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Last updated: June 2022

Formed in October 2015, the Islamic State in Somalia (ISS or otherwise known as ISIS-Somalia) is a jihadist Islamist group. Since December 2017, it is affiliated to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria/Levant (ISIS/ISIL/Daesh). [Actors, 6; Security 2021, 1.1]

The group secured a base in Puntland and has expanded its activities to other parts of Somalia, including Mogadishu mostly in the period 2017 - 2018. However, ever since, the activities of the group in Mogadishu have been very limited. Bari region in Puntland is the cradle of many ISS fighters, and reportedly the group has support networks within the governing structures. In Somaliland, ISS has established links with human traffickers and considers the region as a collection and transit hub for new recruits. [Actors, 6.1]

In 2020, the group conducted small-scale IED attacks and killings in Puntland, Mogadishu and Lower Shabelle and used violence against business leaders who did not meet their extortion demands and carried out assassinations against security or government figures. [Actors, 6, 6.3]

The group has regularly clashed with Al-Shabaab, while operationally and ideologically challenging its dominance. While the group conducted few attacks compared to Al-Shabaab, it continued to engage with propaganda and other media activities. [Actors, 6.1]

In terms of clan composition of the group, Mumin, ISS leader, a clan elder from the Ali Saleban/Majeerteen/Darood, gave prevalence to the Ali Saleban/Darood clan and progressively tried to include individuals from the Hawiye clan. As of mid-2018, it was estimated that the group had 200 fighters throughout the country, almost all in Puntland. In 2020, 30 fighters, including seven foreign fighters, joined the group in Bari region. [Actors, 6.2]

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For further information on human rights violations committed by ISS and their relevance as potential exclusion grounds, see chapter Exclusion.