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Al Shabaab is one of the century’s most successful violent jihadist movements. It has governing power, ruling over millions of Somalis and vast swathes of territory, and kinetic power, committing spectacular acts of violence. But what lies behind the headlines and the bloodshed? Who are Al Shabaab, and why do people join? How does this organisation govern, educate and indoctrinate?

Reporting on Somalia for twenty-five years, Mary Harper has gained extraordinary access to members of Al Shabaab—and, disturbingly, they in turn have access to her. In this engrossing book, she paints the complex picture of life for ordinary people in the group’s shadow—stories of tremendous loss, unbearable compromise, and unexpected profit. She reveals a resilient movement with many faces, and discovers that it can be difficult to know where Al Shabaab begins, and where it ends. An intimate look at everyday life under, within and alongside a notorious terrorist group.

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Somalia is the world’s most comprehensively failed state, representing a threat to itself, its neighbours, and the wider world. In recent years, it has become notorious for the piracy off its coast and the rise of Islamic extremism, opening it up as a new ‘southern front’ in the War on Terror. At least that is how it is presented by politicians and in the media.

In Getting Somalia Wrong? Mary Harper presents the first comprehensive account of the chaos into which the country has descended and the United States' renewed involvement there. In doing so, Harper argues that viewing Somalia through the prism of al-Qaeda risks further destabilising the country and the entire Horn of Africa. She also shows that though the country may be a failed state, it is far from being a failed society. In reality, alternative forms of business, justice, education, and local politics have survived and even flourished. 

Provactive and eye-opening, Getting Somalia Wrong? shows that until the international community starts to ‘get it right’, the consequences will be devastating, not just for Somalia but for the world.

Getting Somalia Wrong? is available as an e-book, in bookshops or can be ordered directly from Zed Books or Amazon by clicking on the links below.

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