Somalia's fragile central government, protracted state of violent instability, long unguarded coastline, porous borders, and proximity to the Arabian Peninsula made the country an attractive location for international terrorists seeking a transit or launching point for conducting operations in Somalia or elsewhere. Despite the late 2006 defeat of the Council of Islamic Courts (CIC) in Mogadishu by Ethiopian and Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces, the ensuing low-level conflict that engulfed Mogadishu and parts of south central Somalia for the remainder of the year continued to make Somalia a permissive operating environment and safe haven for both Somali and foreign terrorists. The extremist al-Shabaab (The Youth), the militant "shock troops" of the CIC whose radicalism and violent means led to the CIC's undoing, initially dispersed and fled south along the Kenyan border. Al-Shabaab, some of whom are affiliated with AQ, consists of radicalized young men, between 20 and 30 years of age. A few of its senior leaders are believed to have trained and fought with AQ in Afghanistan. Al-Shabaab extremists participated in attacks against Ethiopian and TFG security forces. Al-Shabaab and other extremists were also behind suicide bombings, the use of landmines, remote controlled roadside bombs, and targeted assassinations against Ethiopian and TFG security forces, other government officials, journalists, and civil society leaders. The African Union Peace Support Mission (AMISOM), which deployed in March to secure the air and sea ports and presidential compound, lost six soldiers to extremist attacks during the year.
Among the foreign AQ operatives believed to have enjoyed protection by the former CIC and al-Shabaab leadership were individuals wanted for the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania and a 2002 hotel bombing in Kenya, including Fazul Abdallah Mohammed (aka Harun Fazul), and Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan. At the end of the year, Ethiopian and TFG forces remained nominally in control of Mogadishu and southern and central Somalia, though institutions of government remained weak and ineffective. Regional efforts to bring about national reconciliation and establish peace and stability in Somalia are ongoing. The capability of the TFG and other Somali local and regional authorities to carry out counterterrorism activities was limited.