Introducing the Recorded Future Workbook - Analysis of the Kampala Bombings
By Chris on July 19, 2010
On July 11 at the very end of the soccer World Cup, Al-Shabaab carried out multiple bombings in Kampala killing over 70 people. We’ve mentioned Al-Shabaab previously in the pattern of life analysis on Omar Hammami but now examine the organization more broadly as it takes violence outside of Somalia.
Kampala is usually a pretty quiet city on the “world scale,” but clearly online Momentum for the city rose sharply around the bombings.
We might ask ourselves, who are these Al-Shabaab guys, and can we predict/monitor what they may be planning?
We conduct the query Person Career Al-Shabaab in Recorded Future to find titles/descriptions of people and display a network chart which allows exploration of the organization over time. For example, we could look back into their early history when Aden Hashi ran the organization.
Organizing our analysis
We use the new Recorded Future Workbook functionality, which will soon be deployed to all Premium users, to structure our analysis.
The workbook allows users to organize and annotate queries into analytic products that easily can be shared with colleagues or turned into Futures (our alert system).
[We believe shared workbooks will become one of the most powerful aspects of Recorded Future.]
Using this we may now take a look at the head of Al-Shabaab – Mukhtar Abdurahman Abu Zubeyr – and in particular look at whether he had indicated Uganda as a target.
In fact he did, and not only that, but he very explicitly threatened the country a week prior to the attack. Below, you can see the excerpt from AFP reporting on the statements one week (July 4/5) ahead of the bombings.
Who should feel threatened? What’s in the Future?
In the wake of Al-Shabaab’s actions outside Somalia, the obvious question appears to who/where may be next. Exploring in Recorded Future we find Mukhtar Abdurahman Abu Zubeyr as well as his spokesperson Ali Mohamud Rage speaking about:
- July 4th – peace keepers in Somalia: “…released an audiotape that was broadcast on Somali radio stations in which he vowed to attack in Uganda and Burundi for sending troops…”. The peace keeping operation is organized by the AUO – and they have a key meeting in Uganda during late July.
- June 24th – democracies: “…The reality is that democracy is something Allah made unlawful, and someone else cannot make it lawful…”. Next year’s election in Uganda is a danger zone.
- June 26th – Somaliland voters: “…Days before Saturday’s presidential polls in the self-declared state, another key democratic test for Somaliland, the militant Islamist movement’s overall leader Ahmed Abdi Godane issued a chilling warning to voters…”
- May 1st – Foreign security companies – “… blamed the attack on the work of ‘foreign security companies’ whose aim, he said, was to massacre Muslims…”
- Jan 17th – American troops: “…He also warned that if American troops are ever sent to Somalia they will end up dead…”
Al-Shabaab has proven that they can execute sophisticated and coordinated attacks beyond their borders, attract foreigners like Omar Hammimi, and are making threats (and executing upon them) against a broad set of targets.