In Somalia and the Philippines, Al Shabaab and MILF boosted their legitimacy using similar strategies. Both groups provided social services, with a particular emphasis on justice and security. Both groups drew on Islamic narratives to promote unity among disparate ethnic groups (in the Philippines) and clan-based groups (in Somalia). The Tamil Tigers (LTTE), Al Shabaab and MILF all drew on nationalist (and in the case of Al Shabaab and LTTE), xenophobic narratives to boost their legitimacy. Al Shabaab and LTTE both promoted social transformation; the promotion of equality between classes/clans which appealed to the younger generations and disenfranchised groups. Al Shabaab was much more active in using social media to bolster its legitimacy. The LTTE, at its height, was operating in a time before widespread internet access and relied more on symbolic media such as the use of the symbols of the Chola kings to highlight the long history of Tamil military prowess (Nithiyanandam, 2001) and instigating a tradition of publically venerating fallen heroes that hearkened to earlier traditions of Tamil heroism (Roberts, 2005). In short, their strategies to increase their legitimacy are not very different from strategies used by states or, indeed, development agencies.
- Nithiyanandam, V. N. (2001). Changing scenarios of Tamilian culture: Some thoughts on the cultural dimensions of the ethnic war in Sri Lanka. Asian Ethnicity, 2(1), 35–54. See document online
- Roberts, M. (2005). Tamil Tiger ‘martyrs’: Regenerating divine potency? Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, 28(3), 493–514. See document online