The conflict in Somalia has gained a position in the world’s top 10 countries for terrorist attacks, with al-Shabaab becoming Africa’s most prominent terrorist group. Over half of al-Shabaab’s forces are now children. Nearly 30 years of conflict has resulted in a ‘lost generation’- children who have only experienced chaos and violence, left with few opportunities to survive. Over half of the population of Somalia is under the age of 25, indicating youths’ preponderancy in the future of stability in the country. This paper analyzes al-Shabaab’s strengths, factors that contribute to the ‘lost generation’, the use of child soldiers in Somalia, atrocities by the SNA and AMISOM, US involvement and the rehabilitation of children. This paper argues that there is a direct relationship between the youth of Somalia and terrorism, with youth being the determinant in either the acquirement of stability or the growth of terrorism in Africa and worldwide.
Natasha Louis is a Master of Science in Global Affairs with a concentration in Transnational Security from New York University. Her specialization is in Africa, counter-terrorism and conflict. Natasha is originally from Detroit, completing a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Wayne State University in photography and journalism. In 2014 she moved to Tokyo and worked for Kamonohashi Project, a nonprofit that focused on ending child sex trafficking in India and Cambodia. She has had several works published nationally and internationally, including articles in the Perspectives on Global Issues journal. Her recent travels include North Korea, Peru and Ireland and she is currently working as a security analyst in New York City.