The Limits of ‘Shabaab-CARE’: Militant Governance amid COVID-19

Published by Combating Terrorism Center - CTC at West Point


Many terrorist groups have released statements advocating weaponizing COVID-19. Those entities exercising some form of territorial control, such as the Taliban and al-Shabaab, also face wider questions over the capacity and inclination of their administrative systems to effectively respond to the crisis. In Somalia, al-Shabaab has proactively established an isolation center and is issuing health advice, the latest extensions of a long-running experiment in militant governance. Previous humanitarian disasters revealed the group’s largesse to be ad hoc and rather mercurial. While recent strategic setbacks could change how it navigates this latest challenge, the pandemic may nevertheless expose intrinsic limitations in al-Shabaab’s approach to civic administration. The key issue is whether the authorities the group is fighting can do any better.