An Islamic organization that controls much of southern Somalia, excluding the capital, Mogadishu. It has waged an insurgency against Somalia's transitional government and its Ethiopian supporters since 2006. Originally the militant wing of the Islamic Courts Union, the group that controlled Somalia prior to the country's invasion by Ethiopian forces, al-Shabaab leaders have claimed affiliation with al-Qaeda since 2007. Though most analysts believe al-Shabaab's organizational links to al-Qaeda are weak, in February 2008 the United States added the group to its list of foreign terrorist organizations.
Al Shabaab's strength has grown since then, but many experts say the withdrawal of Ethiopian forces from Somalia in January 2009 could diminish the group's basis for popular support. In what marked the group's first major attack outside of Somalia, al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for twin bombings that killed more than seventy people in Kampala, Uganda (NYT) during the World Cup final on July 11, 2010.