Continuity and Change: Al-Shabaab’s Media Insurgency

November 10, 2016 - 9:00 am

Atlantic Council, 1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor
Washington, DC
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Continuity and Change: Al-Shabaab’s Media Insurgency


A conversation with:

Christopher Anzalone
Author
Continuity and Change: The Evolution of Al-Shabab’s Media Insurgency, 2006-2016
Research Fellow, International Security Program, John F. Kennedy School of Government
Harvard University

Dr. Stig Jarle Hansen
Research Fellow, International Security Program, John F. Kennedy School of Government
Harvard University
Author
Al-Shabaab in Somalia

Introduced and Moderated by:
Bronwyn Bruton
Deputy Director, Africa Center
Atlantic Council 

Somali terror group Al-Shabaab has menaced Somalia for nearly a decade, at its height occupying and controlling nearly all of southern Somalia. As part of its broader military and governance strategies, al-Shabaab leaders recognized early on the need for a multi-faceted and flexible media apparatus to share their message and build relationships with other jihadist organizations. Casting themselves as a reliable alternative to the international news media and official media organs of its enemies, al-Shabaab’s media operatives are engaged in a form of “jihadi journalism,” an active attempt to influence and even direct the news cycle, especially during times of major upheavals and crises. Adeptly using new and social media technologies, insurgent media acts as a force multiplier by amplifying perceptions of al-Shabaab’s power even during a time of territorial decline and mounting battlefield and economic setbacks.  

A new report from Hate Speech International (HSI) authored by Christopher Anzalone provides in-depth analysis of al-Shabaab’s media operations and information warfare, utilizing a diverse array of sources to provide a comprehensive account of the rise and modus operandi of the media wing of one of the most successful jihadi-insurgent organizations in recent times.

Please join the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center, in coordination with HSI, for a conversation on this media strategy and its impact on the fight against al-Shabaab in Somalia. Anzalone will speak alongside Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government Research Fellow Stig Jarle Hansen. Africa Center Deputy Director Bronwyn Bruton will moderate the panel.  
 

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Atlantic Council
1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor (West Tower Elevator) 
Washington, DC 

This event is open to press and on the record. 

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Christopher Anzalone is a research fellow with the International Security Program at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and a PhD candidate (ABD) in Islamic and Middle Eastern studies at McGill University.  He has published widely on al-Shabaab and other Islamist militant groups including al-Qaeda and its regional affiliates, Tehrik-i Taliban Pakistan, Shi’ite militias in Syria and Iraq, and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. He has also consulted for the US, Canadian, and British governments and has been interviewed by news outlets including the BBC, The Telegraph, The Washington Times, the CBC, PBS, NPR, Al-Jazeera English, Reuters, and the Associated Press.

Dr. Stig Jarle Hansen works primarily within the fields of organized crime; religion and politics (including religious terror) and political theory, with a special interest in the British idealist and Islamic political thought processes. Geographically, his main focus is in the wider Red Sea region, Yemen, Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Kenya. Hansen conducted field research in Mogadishu annually between 2005 and 2014, and he has also conducted field research in the Middle East. His latest book, ‘Al-Shabaab in Somalia’ was critically acclaimed by Foreign Policy and The Economist, among others. Hansen is a world expert on Islamism in the Horn of Africa and al-Shabaab, and he has commented for CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, Reuters, CCTV 4, and many other international media outlets. He is currently leading Norway’s only master’s program in international relations.

Bronwyn E. Bruton is the deputy director of the Atlantic Council's Africa Center. Previously, Bruton held an International Affairs Fellowship at the Council on Foreign Relations and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Prior to her fellowship appointment, Bruton managed the National Endowment for Democracy’s multi-million dollar portfolio of small grants to local and international nongovernmental organizations operating in East and Southern Africa, and managed post-conflict political transition programs in Africa for the US Agency for International Development.   

 

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