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Al-Ittihad al-Islami (AIAI)


Somalia’s largest militant Islamic organization rose to power in the early 1990s following the collapse of the Siad Barre regime. Its aims to establish an Islamic regime in Somalia and force the secession of the Ogaden region of Ethiopia have largely been abandoned. Some elements associated with AIAI maintain ties to al-Qaida.


The group is believed to be responsible for a series of bomb attacks in public places in Addis Ababa in 1996 and 1997 as well as the kidnapping of several relief workers in 1998. AIAI sponsors Islamic social programs, such as orphanages and schools, and provides pockets of security in Somalia.


Estimated membership is roughly 2,000 persons, of which a small percentage is considered militant. During the 1990s, AIAI sustained significant losses at the hands of the Ethiopian military, from which the group never fully recovered. Members now operate in small cells or groups.

Location/Area of Operation

Primarily in Somalia, with limited presence in Ethiopia and Kenya.

External Aid

Receives funds from Middle East financiers and Western diaspora remittances and suspected of receiving training in Afghanistan in the past. Past weapons deliveries via Sudan and Eritrea.

Sources and Resources

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Created by John Pike
Maintained by Steven Aftergood
Updated May 21, 2004