January 10, 2012: Kenyan forces inside Somalia have noted al Shabaab sharply declining in numbers and lethality. In the last week Kenyan troops took control of several towns (Fafadun and Eladeand) that al Shabaab withdrew from without much of a fight. It is believed that al Shabaab moved forces from the Kenyan border in order to retake the larger town of Baladwayne to the north. Baladwayne was taken with the help of Ethiopian troops, which al Shabaab finds particularly humiliating. Now al Shabaab is concentrating forces outside Baladwayne for what appears to be a counterattack. Al Shabaab is also waging a propaganda offensive, using twitter and slickly produced videos to portray themselves as victims of various foreign plots to destroy virtuous Somali Moslems (al Qaeda) as part of a Western war on Islam. Meanwhile, al Shabaab continues to become less popular among Somalis. The Islamic terror group is also having a hard time recruiting, and has been caught enticing kids as young as ten to take a gun and join the fighting.
Al Shabaab has established an armed presence in the refugee camps of eastern Kenya. The al Shabaab gunmen have been terrorizing Somali leaders in the camps (causing some of these men to flee the camps) and also attacking Kenyan security forces that guard the camps (from bandits, especially Somali ones.)
January 8, 2012: Kenyan air strikes on al Shabaab bases near the Kenyan border have killed over fifty al Shabaab gunmen and destroying several vehicles armed with heavy machine-guns.
January 7, 2012: Kenyan troops in Somalia are now officially part of the AU (African Union) Somalia peacekeeping force. This will save Kenya a lot of money, as peacekeepers receive lots of cash and material support from donor (mainly the U.S. and other Western nations, but also China).
Ethiopia will withdraw its forces from Somalia (particularly the recently captured town of Baladwayne), and be replaced by AU (African Union) peacekeepers. Ethiopian troops entered Somalia in 2006 and helped keep Islamic radicals out of Mogadishu for three years, before withdrawing to Ethiopia. They moved in again in late 2011.
Off the coast, a Danish warship identified and seized a seagoing fishing boat that was being used as a mother ship for pirates. The 14 fishermen on board were freed and 25 pirates arrested. This is a common occurrence, as the pirates need the ocean going fishing boats to get out where less well guarded merchant ships are. The fishing boats also provide some cover, although, as this case demonstrated, warship crews are now trained to spot a captured fishing boat.
January 6, 2012: an American warship came across an Iranian fishing boat 280 kilometers southeast of Oman and determined that the crew of 12 was being held captive by 15 Somali pirates. The pirates surrendered and the Iranians were checked over by medical personnel, given food and fuel, and sent on their way.
January 5, 2012: In Mogadishu, a group of al Shabaab gunmen got into a battle with peacekeepers and government troops, leaving at least twelve civilians dead.
In Kenya, police found bomb making equipment in a refugee camp for Somalis. Al Shabaab has been increasingly active in the camps, which hold nearly half a million Somalis fleeing famine and violence in Somalia.
The AU asked the UN to authorize the Somali peacekeeping force to be increased from 12,000 to 17,700. The AU believes that al Shabaab is growing weak and can be wiped out with the addition of more peacekeepers. There still remains the problem of divisions within the TNG (Transitional National Government), which has seen several brawls in the TNG parliament as factions fight, literally, over who shall run parliament. The TNG is also incredibly corrupt, despite demands from foreign donors that the stealing stop.
Britain warned its citizens to stay away from northern Kenya and the Somali border because of the risk of terrorist activity.
January 2, 2012: In Mogadishu there was another brawl in parliament as members fought with fists and furniture because of a dispute over who should be the leaders of parliament. Three members of parliament were hospitalized after the fight. This is the third time in the last month that this kind of violence has broken out in parliament.
December 31, 2011: Kenyan police killed three al Shabaab Islamic terrorists on the Somali border and arrested three others. The Somalis were trying to sneak into Kenya to carry out terror attacks during New Year's celebrations. The six men had tried to enter Kenya via the sea, but the navy spotted their boat and the six men went ashore the day before and tried to cross the border on foot. Police reported that they had detected and prevented similar attempts to launch attacks during Christmas (December 25) celebrations. However, someone did toss a grenade into a bar in eastern Kenya today, and opened fire as well, killing five people. Al Shabaab was believed responsible.
In central Somalia, Ethiopian and TNG troops captured the town of Baladwayne, near the Ethiopian border. This key town has been held by al Shabaab for over three years. Four years ago, al Shabaab raided the town and killed four foreign teachers (two Britons and two Kenyans). The Islamic radicals are particularly hostile to non-religious education. The two Britons were Somalis who had migrated to Britain, gotten an education, and returned to establish a school. One of the dead teachers had converted to Christianity and such conversions are punished by death by Islamic radicals. Al Shabaab sees the loss of Baladwayne as a major defeat.
December 30, 2011: In Puntland, clan elders have publicly blamed al Shabaab for the murder of an Islamic scholar earlier in the month. This is the first time this has happened.
In Mogadishu, gunmen shot dead two foreign aid workers. The attackers were believed to be al Shabaab.
December 28, 2011: In the south, al Shabaab fought Kenyan troops and TNG gunmen, leaving ten dead. The Kenyan forces were supported by fighter-bomber attacks on the terrorists.
December 27, 2011: Somali pirates seized an Italian cargo ship, and its crew of 18, off the coast of Oman.