Al-Ittihad al-Islami (AIAI) a.k.a. Islamic Union


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.


Conducted terrorist attacks against Ethiopian forces and other Somali factions in the 1990s. 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 at some 2,000 members, plus additional reserve militias


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

External Aid

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