Former CIA Officer Jason Hanson Reveals...

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Survival lessons from “5-Percenter” terror group

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Al-Shabaab is a Somali-based Islamist terror group with past links to al-Qaeda. The group is known for its strict following of Islam.

In 2006, the group joined with other forces to fight a coalition of warlords that the U.S. had been supporting.

Eventually, the warlords lost.

The victory strengthened al-Shabaab and they took control of the warlord’s weapons.

This was a worst-case scenario for the U.S.

After this, al-Shabaab carried out attacks against civilians, aid workers, journalists, and the African peacekeeping force that was backed by the UN.

During this time, the terror group refused to compromise or agree to cease-fires.

By 2010, al-Shabaab had expanded the area under its control. It carried out its first major attack outside Somalia when a suicide bomber killed 75 people in Uganda.

In 2011, the terrorists banned aid groups from assisting famine-ravaged areas of Somalia. In 2013, the group launched an attack on a mall in Nairobi killing 75 people.

In 2015, they struck again.

This time, the terrorists killed 140 people after attacking a university.

The reality is that most terrorist groups fail within a year and 95% of them no longer exist within a decade.

But al-Shabaab has been terrorizing Africa for over 15 years.

Today, the terror group has members in Somalia and Kenya. It’s estimated they have a fighting force between 5,000 and 10,000.

So, why has al-Shabaab lasted so long and hasn’t been wiped off the earth yet?

(Even though they are terrorists who should all be dead…. You can still learn lessons from criminals and terrorists.)


The reason that al-Shabaab has lasted is because of its intelligence operations.

One British reporter said that when he returns home from Somalia, al-Shabaab calls him and tells him details of his trip.

In other words, al-Shabaab was watching him the entire time and he didn’t know it.

Their intelligence unit operates independently of other parts of the group, with its own logistical and financial resources.

The intelligence men have carried out crimes against high-level members of the Somali government.

One thing we can learn from this is that you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket.

The intelligence services help the entire organization but are separate.

This compartmentalizing ensures that if one part of the group is compromised, other parts can continue carrying on.

In a similar way, you should have multiple back-ups to your survival gear, and multiple emergency supply caches, in case one fails or is found.

Organizational structure:

The terror group has a well-organized command structure. The way they fight and gain money is organized from the top down.

It’s a cell-based structure that consists of only a few hundred top men.

The top-level leaders handle internal security, covert actions, and information collection.

They generate money for the terror group by enforcing taxation, and they send members into big cities where they extort money from people.

But the group avoids clashes with military forces and uses guerrilla warfare tactics.

Organization is an important life skill, and even more critical during a disaster situation.

Be sure your survival gear and plans are organized so you are ready to respond.


Many people believe that al-Shabaab’s intelligence wing is more efficient than the Somali governments.

The group has had success in targeting Somali military leaders and politicians.

Their counterintelligence operations have a human intel network for offensive and defensive actions.

The fact is that al-Shabaab has people everywhere. And if people aren’t an actual member of the terror group, they are at least relaying information to them.

When you are out in public, talking on your cell phone, or on the internet, always keep in mind that someone could be watching or recording you.

Take steps to limit your exposure and to keep your personal data safe.

Look, Al-Shabaab is an evil terror group.

But the group’s flexibility, intelligence, and organization have made it a difficult enemy for African governments to fight.

And there are lessons for survival in how this group has survived so long.

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