What is Somalia's Al Shabab?

The international community has more questions than answers about the Somali militant group Al Shabab, the target of Kenya's military incursion into Somalia. But they know how it affords food for its troops – and it's not from piracy.

Is Al Shabab really affiliated with Al Qaeda?

It is easy to claim a relationship with a high-profile terror group, just as it is easy to wear a Manchester United T-shirt on game day. But how much contact do the Somali militia fighters in Mogadishu and Kismayo really have with the ideologues, funders, and operations men within the various Al Qaeda affiliates scattered across the Arabian peninsula, the Afghan borderlands, the African Sahel, and elsewhere? Western security experts say there is evidence that Al Qaeda provides some training on use of suicide bombings, but area experts question whether this is simply skills sharing from freelance jihadists traveling from war zone to war zone on their own initiative.

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