A Department of Homeland Security Emeritus Center of Excellence led by the University of Maryland

BAAD - Islamic Courts Union (ICU) - 2007


Islamic Courts Union (ICU)

The Islamic Courts Union (ICU) was founded in 2000 in order to create an Islamic state in Somalia after more than a decade of anarchy.[2] The ICU is a coalition with its origins stemming back to the mid-1990s when religious courts attempted to bring order to Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, which had not had a stable government since 1991.[3] Before the ICU alliance, 11 autonomous courts in Mogadishu provided governance and criminal justice within Islamic jurisprudential frameworks. After the ICU alliance coalesced, the ICU increasingly played the role of a police force as well as set of courts.[4] Part of the responsibility for policing fell to the youth military wing of the ICU, Al-Shabaab, now a separate terrorist organization.[5] In June 2006, ICU gained control of Mogadishu, as well as most of southern Somalia.[6] The ICU publically declared that it wanted to portray itself as a moderate force capable of stabilizing Somalia; however, in practice, the ICU showed evidence of strict religious rule.[7] The major turning point for the ICU came in December 2006 when the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in Somalia and the Ethiopian military, both with support from the United States, forced the ICU out of Mogadishu.[8] The ICU fled to bordering countries and slid into obsolescence, with the moderates of the ICU in exile and the extreme militants migrating to Al-Shabaab.[9] In 2008, the ICU retook parts of Somalia such as Beledweyne on the Ethiopian border and Giohar, north of Mogadishu.[10] However, they remain weakened and have nearly been made obsolete due to the strength of Al-Shabaab.  View full narrative

Quick Facts for 2007


0 (Total of 1998 through 2012)


Several thousand

Territorial Control:
Does Not Control Territory (0)

Funding through Drug Trafficking:

Sorry, but there are no organizational details available for this group at this time.


Primary Ideology

  • Ag = Anti-Globalization
  • An = Anarchist
  • En = Ethnic
  • Ev = Environmental
  • Le = Leftist
  • Re = Religious
  • Ri = Rightist
  • Se = Separatist
  • Su = Supremacist
  • Vi = Vigilante


  •  Ally
  •  Suspected Ally
  •  Rival
  •  Violence
  •  Mixed Relations


  •  Blue 0 - 1479 fatalities
  •  Green 1479 - 2958 fatalities
  •  Yellow 2958 - 4437 fatalities
  •  Orange 4437 - 5916 fatalities
  •  Red 5916 - 7396 fatalities

Lethality is calculated as the total number of fatalities from 1998-2012.


Icon sizes depict approximate relative sizes of the organizations.

  • Smallest 0 - 10 members
  •   11 - 100 members
  •   101 - 1000 members
  •   1001 - 10000 members
  • Largest > 10000 members

Other Notes

Icons with no color coding or ideology icon have no detailed data at this time, and are provided as relationship information only.