Ahlu Sunna Wal Jamaa

The Ahlu Sunna Wal Jamaa (“People of the Sunna and Community,” ASWJ) is a militia that represents Somali Sufi orders in opposition to Islamist groups such as Hizb ul-Islam and al-Shabaab. In 2010, the ASWJ joined forces with the Transitional Federal Government (TSG) with the expectation that they would be granted positions cabinet positions, though not all members supported the move and some have complained that the TSG reneged on their offer.

The ASWJ was founded in 1991 under the guidance of General Mohamed Aideed who saw the group as a counterforce to radical Islamism. Originally a non-violent defensive alliance of traditionalists from the Qadiriyya, Salihiyya, and Ahmadiyya Sufi orders that preached the “foreignness” of Salafi ideology, the ASWJ changed tactics in 2009 to actively combat militant Islamist groups. The ASWJ is not clan-affiliated, but has rather drawn membership from a number of sub-clans that had been targeted by Islamist groups for their Sufi practices and beliefs.


“Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama,” Mapping Militant Organizations, Stanford University, July 18, 2012, accessed February 18, 2014.

Karl Sandstrom, “Contextual disconnect: The failure of the ‘international community’ in Somalia,” Globalizing Somalia: Multilateral, International and Transnational, eds. Emma Leonard and Gilbert Ramsay (New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013), pp. 49-70.

Kenneth J. Menkhaus, “Somalia and Somaliland,” Battling Terrorism in the Horn of Africa, ed. Robert I. Rothberg (Baltimore: Brookings Institution Press, 2005), pp. 23-47.