Peer Response Week 3


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Peer Responses Week 3

HSE 470: Modern Terrorism

Response #1 (Johnathan): Somalia is a country in Africa that is big on the unification of Somali-speaking people under one country. In other words, the Somali government has the goal of uniting all five Somali inhabited regions under one country. These goals have led to many conflicts in the country. throughout its history all due to revolving around Somali nationalism. This sense of Somali nationalism has undoubtedly influenced groups like Al-Shabaab to drive out infidels in the region and the religion. This sense of Somali national pride also has helped bolster Al-Shabaab's influence in the region due to foreign actors like the UN, the U.S., and Ethiopia failing to realize the Somali government cannot survive without legitimacy which seemed to be undermined by the perceived notion that orders were being taken by outside actors. Therefore Al-Shabaab due to this huge foreign policy and counter-terrorism failure of these foreign actors has been able to appeal to Somali national pride and gather more and more forces against the Mogadishu government. Al-Shabaab is not just motivated by Somalia's unification either.  Much of this group's motivation also seems to come from Wahhabist ideology going so far as to drive out traditional elders out of the Bay, Nakol, and Lower Shabelle Regions who do not share this belief. Due to this, it is believed that Al-Shabaab's goal of uniting Somalia under one country will fail due to them pitting nationalism and religion against each other. Clan identity is a huge part of Somalia society and Al-Shabaab has infringed on many clans since its formation leading many to believe many Somalians will turn against Al-Shabaab. 

I find it interesting that despite our failures in our approaches to Al-Shabaab and their clear show of being able to adapt to the counter-terrorism measures that have been put into place in Somalia as well as their shortcomings such as Al-Shabaab taking huge financial losses we still have yet to change our approach to the escalating situation. Additionally, given the use of military intervention seemingly leading only to more problems in Somalia let alone the entire Middle East we continue to think more troops will quell conflicts in the region. We are surely in dire need of a better approach to Al-Shabaab to prevent their agenda from gaining more traction. 


Solomon, H. (2015). Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism in Africa. Springer Nature.

Response #2 (Brandy): Al-Shabaab emerged with the objective of challenging the Ethiopian armed forces. In 2009, Ethiopia withdrew its forces, leading to Al-Shabaab gaining control over significant parts of southern Somalia, including the capital, Mogadishu. Concerned about its increasingly radical Islamist orientation, evident in its public allegiance to Al Qaeda, Western states adopted a proactive counter-terrorism approach against Al-Shabaab. This approach involved the formation of AMISOM with Western support and the establishment of the East African Counterterrorism Initiative by the US. The US set up a military base in Djibouti. Initially, this strategy appeared effective, as Al-Shabaab experienced a decline in control over substantial portions of its territory.

The influence of clan loyalties in Somali politics despite efforts to establish a modern political system persist. The introduction of Western education and urbanization did not weaken traditional clan ties; instead, clans became central in the struggle for political power. The clan system provided a platform for the emerging political class to organize and mobilize. Even with the introduction of a political party system, clan competition shifted from grazing fields to state resources.

The assassination of Somali President Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke in 1969, linked to a clan dispute, highlights the power of clans over political allegiance. The subsequent coup by General Mohammed Siad Barre in 1969 aimed to modernize Somalia and diminish clan influence. However, Barre's regime faced accusations of favoring his own Darod clan, leading to the concentration of power within his clan and allies. The Barre regime's legacy diminished the idea and practice of central state government. The period following Barre's departure was marked by incessant clan conflicts which contributed to a shattered political landscape.

Observers of the intricate clan dynamics within Al-Shabaab  often misunderstand the group's offensives. For example, the 2009 offensive to seize Baidoa from the Transitional Federal Government was not solely an Al-Shabaab attempt but also involved elements specific to other clans, such as Laysan, Mirifle, and Rahanweyn, with aim to establish control over the city.

The 2010 UN Security Council Report describes Al-Shabaab as a complex coalition involving jihadists, business interests, and clan militias. This characterization goes beyond viewing Al-Shabaab as a possible procurator to Al Qaeda, recognizing the group's diverse composition, with various clan militias pursuing conflicting business interests alongside common jihadist activities.


Solomon, H. (2015). Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism in Africa. Springer Nature. 

HSE 460: European Union

Response #1 (Patrick): "Reducing the vulnerabilities of critical infrastructure and increasing their resilience is one of the major objectives of the EU" (Critical Infrastructure, n.d.). The European Union can definitely increase critical infrastructure protection against terrorism. Some measures to protect against terrorism include information sharing, risk assessment, legislation, and technology. If the European Union was to enhance their information sharing among the different member states, they would be able to identify and address potential threats to critical infrastructure more easily. Conducting comprehensive risk assessments, the European Union would be able to identify vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure. The role of the European Court of Justice is responsible for ensuring the interpretation and application of EU law. They key responsibilities include interpreting and enforcing the law and legal disputes. The European Court of Justice interprets the law to ensure consistency among all member states and ensures the law is applied and enforced correctly. The ECJ also resolved legal disputes between national governments, EU institutions, and individuals. The monetary union exists as a symbol of the adoption of euro currency, promotes economic stability, and facilitates trade. The primary goal of the monetary union is to create a stable and prosperous economy among all member states. When the economy is strong and stable, it can indirectly contribute to national security by promoting political stability. 


Critical infrastructure. Migration and Home Affairs. (n.d.).

Response #2 (Keryn): To enhance critical infrastructure protection against terrorism, the European Union (EU) can implement collaborative measures among member states. This involves sharing intelligence, establishing joint threat assessment mechanisms, and developing EU-wide legislation and standards for a unified approach to security. Investing in advanced technologies, conducting training programs, and fostering public-private partnerships are key components in fortifying critical infrastructure.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) plays a pivotal role in interpreting and ensuring the application of EU law. In the context of critical infrastructure protection, the ECJ examines the legality and compliance of EU actions, serving as a legal arbiter for cases related to security measures and legislation. Individuals or entities affected by EU actions can bring legal challenges before the ECJ, contributing to the legal framework governing security measures within the EU.

The monetary union within Europe, leading to the creation of the Eurozone and the common currency (Euro), is primarily driven by economic considerations rather than security. The monetary union aims to foster economic integration, streamline financial transactions, and promote stability in cross-border trade. While economic stability indirectly influences political and social stability, the establishment of the monetary union is not directly related to security concerns. Instead, it reflects the EU's commitment to achieving economic cohesion and cooperation among member states.

HSE 450: Individual and Cultural Perspectives of Terrorism Radicalization

Response #1 (Kanysia): From a homeland security perspective, the concept of a radical jihad can be described as when individuals use threats of violence or even actual violence in order to get whatever they may want and claim that they follow Islam. They may attack certain places or individuals in different countries. Fundamentalism is a form of religion where individuals strictly follow their religion. This means that they do not accept or follow any other religious views or lifestyles. Certain people may get radicalized and believe they must support or join violent jihad because they feel excluded or angry at Western nations as a result of fundamentalism. The belief that using violence is their obligation or a means of worshiping God is another effect of fundamentalism. Groups that adhere to the ideology and objectives of ISIS are known as Islamic State movements. These groups, however, have different adversaries, objectives, plans, and methods. While some of them go against other Muslims and minorities, local governments, and security forces, others target the West and its supporters. There are many that aspire to establish an Islamic state on a global, regional, or local scale. Certain groups employ terrorist acts, traditional armed conflict, or a combination of both. Using social media and incentives, suicide bombs and kidnappings, or vicious brutality and propaganda are some of their tactics. These variations have an impact on how they endanger homeland security as well as how to combat them. References: Taylor, R. W., & Swanson, C. R. (2019).  Terrorism, Intelligence, and Homeland Security (2nd ed.). Pearson. Sachs, N. (2016, July 28).  Comparing al Qaeda and Isis: Different goals, different targets. Brookings. 

Response #2 (Ramada): The concept of a radical jihad, particularly in the context of homeland security, involves the pursuit of an extreme and militant interpretation of Islamic teachings to achieve political or ideological goals. From a homeland security perspective, the term encompasses the actions of individuals or groups who engage in violent acts, often against perceived enemies, with the aim of establishing a particular form of Islamic governance. Fundamentalism plays a pivotal role in shaping radical terrorism, as it involves a strict adherence to traditional Islamic principles and a rejection of modern secular ideologies. This uncompromising stance fosters an environment where individuals may be more susceptible to radicalization, viewing violence as a justifiable means to achieve their objectives. Differences among Islamic State movements further complicate the landscape of homeland security. Various factions may have distinct goals, tactics, and regional focuses, making it challenging to devise a one-size-fits-all counterterrorism strategy. The emergence of splinter groups or localized branches may pose unique threats to different regions. Understanding these differences is crucial for effective homeland security, as it allows for targeted and context-specific responses to mitigate the diverse challenges posed by Islamic State movements. A nuanced approach that considers the intricacies of each group's ideology, structure, and capabilities is essential to address the dynamic and evolving nature of radical terrorism originating from the Middle East.






International Crisis Group. (2016, March 14).  Exploiting Disorder: al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. International Crisis Group.