A Pentagon report blames Ethiopian regime’s atrocities for the creation of Al Shabab
April 7, 2015 (Joint Special Operations University and the Center for Special Operations Studies and Research) — Ethiopian soldiers were accused of committing a wide range of atrocities, including firing mortars on civilian hospitals, press institutions, and houses, and rape, theft, kidnapping, and murder of Somali civilians. Among many Somalis, these strikes established the U.S. as an instigator of the Ethiopian invasion, which provided a propaganda opening for al Qaeda and precipitated a flood of foreign jihadi fighters into Mogadishu. By early 2008, confidential Somali sources estimate that some 2,000 foreign fighters had entered Somalia, approximately 40 percent of them from the Somali diaspora. While the moderate members of the SCIC fled into Eritrea and Djibouti—where they established allied political movements called the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia—the hardline elements of the SCIC regrouped, and more were trained by the new foreign fighters in the use of remote-controlled detonations. Suicide bombings and other un-Somali tactics became increasingly common.
On 21 March 2007, a Somali mob dragged the bodies of Ethiopian and TFG soldiers through the streets of Mogadishu and set them on fire. Over the next two years, outrage over Ethiopian atrocities—particularly the systemic use of rape—prompted more than 20 members of Minnesota’s Somali diaspora to return to Mogadishu to fight the Ethiopian and TFG forces. Their possession of U.S. passports raised the specter of home-grown terrorism and heightened concerns about Somalia’s conflict in Washington.18 Even members of AMISOM began to hear the name of al-Shabaab, which emerged in the midst of the public anger as a popular resistance movement.
By the end of 2007, Ethiopian casualties escalated to an unsustainable level: Somali sources living throughout Mogadishu at that time estimate that Ethiopian forces suffered approximately 200 casualties (wounded and fatalities) each week. The TFG remained hopelessly swamped in political infighting—Prime Minister Gedi was fired and in his place came a parade of four prime ministers over the next five years. Ethiopia, losing patience with the TFG and increasingly doubtful that the African Union would succeed in deploying an adequate peacekeeping mission to relieve Ethiopian forces, began to look for an exit strategy. By the end of March 2008, the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) claimed to have drawn down to approximately 2,500 troops, mostly based in Mogadishu and Baidoa (although Somali sources dispute this figure). Nevertheless, the operation was still a financial drain for Ethiopia, which prompted the government in Addis Ababa to call for international assistance to reimburse its costs. Ethiopia was also thought to have concluded by early 2008, in the face of rising public support for al-Shabaab, that a military solution in Somalia would not be possible.