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Islamic Courts Union (Somalia)

Last modified: 2022-10-22 by bruce berry
Keywords: somalia |
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  image by Garry M. Borgacci, 05 May 2008

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Islamic Courts Union (ICU)

The Islamic Courts Union (Midowga Maxkamadaha Islaamiga in Somali) was a group of Sharia Courts which united themselves to form a rival administration to the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia with Sharif Sheikh Ahmed as their  leader.  They are also known as the Joint Islamic Courts, Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), Supreme Islamic Courts Council (SICC) or the Supreme Council of Islamic Courts (SCIC). Western media often refer to the group as the Somali Islamists.

The flag has a black background on which is written the "shahada" in white.
Garry M. Borgacci, 05 May 2008

The Reuters  new agency reported on 08 December 2009 violent fighting erupted in a Somali town after the national flag had been removed by rebels.

The director of a secondary school based at Elsaha, a town located 15km of Mogadishu, recently hoisted the Somali national flag over his school. Rebels of the "Hizbul Islam" group arrested the director and replaced the national flag by their black flag.  Upset by this event, the inhabitants of the town shot at the rebels,
who subsequently randomly shot on the demonstrators gathered in the streets. At least three demonstrators were killed, while ten teenagers, who in the meantime had torn down the Islamic flag, were arrested.  The rebels eventually released the director and withdrew from the town.

While not specified, the "black Islamist flag" is assumed to be the flag reported as the "flag of the Somali Islamists" as shown on FOTW.
Ivan Sache, 09 Dec 2009

Al-Shabaab flag

image by Bruce Berry, 26 Oct 2008

In the ongoing Somali armed conflict, there is a faction that supports the ICU called Al-Shabaab.

"Al-Shabaab" ("The Youth" in Arabic) is also known as Hizbul Shabaab ("The Party of Youth") and the Popular Resistance Movement in the Land of the Two Migrations (PRM) is an Islamist insurgency
group in Somalia. The group developed in the wake of the loss of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) at the hands of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and its backers, primarily the military of Ethiopia,
in the War in Somalia (2006–present). An estimated 3,000 or so members of the ICU went underground to form an insurgency and armed cells across Mogadishu and elsewhere in Somalia, and are conducting attacks against the government and the allied Ethiopian forces. The term "Shabaab" is common in the Islamic world for youth groups and it should not be confused with other more peaceful endeavours." (Source:

This groups flag appears to be based on that of the ICU, having a black background with Arabic script in white and crossed swords in saltire, also in white, in the centre.
Esteban Rivera, 17 Aug 2008