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Counterterrorism in East Africa: The Death of Yusuf Jiis

April 10, 2020

Episode Notes:

On Tuesday, the U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) announced that one of the founders of the Al Shabaab terrorist movement, Yusuf Jiis, was killed by a U.S. airstrike in Somalia.  Jiis was a senior leader in the Al Shabaab movement, and is believed to have been the driving force behind a series of attacks on aid organizations and workers between 2009 and 2011.  The U.S. has conducted numerous airstrikes in Somalia over the recent past, garnering criticism from some human rights groups who allege civilian casualties as a consequence.  USAFRICOM indicated that three militants and no civilians were killed in the strike that killed Jiis.

To explain more about Jiis, Al Shabaab, and the ongoing conflict in the region, we are joined by Dr. Christoper Anzalone.  Anzalone is a visiting Scholar at the Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies at George Mason University. He received his Ph.D. in Islamic Studies with a focus on Africa and the Middle East from McGill University.  His research focuses on Islamic political thought, Shi'ite Islam, religion and violence, and the intersection of social movement dynamics with ideology and symbolic power. He previously was a predoctoral and a postdoctoral research fellow with the International Security Program at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.

[ 01:31 ] Who was Yusuf Jiis, what role did he play in Al Shabaab, and what importance does his death have for the counterterrorism campaign in East Africa?

[ 02:55 ] What is the "Jaysh al-Hisba" that Yusuf Jiis reportedly was a part of?  What is Amniyat?

[ 04:49 ] What is the current status/situation (overview) of the civil conflict in Somalia & regional issue of jihadi militancy in East Africa?

[ 06:37 ] How transnational is Al-Shabab and what is its relationship with Al-Qaeda? With the Islamic State?

[ 08:33 ] To what extent do criticisms over civilian casualties affect the legitimacy or effectiveness of the US counterterrorism campaign in East Africa?

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