In May 1988 a civil war erupted. The last official national leader in Somalia Siad Barre began targeting innocent civilians since he was against clans. Rebellion began and a full scale war escalated. The leader of this Militia was General Aidid. From 1991 to 1992 Aidid's and Barre's forces exchanged fire. This caused a great famine in South Central Somalia. As they fought many innocent civilians were claimed in the cross fire. By May 1992 Barre was forced to retreat into Kenya and later on to Nigeria.
After Barre was overthrown all the clans who once grouped together to defeat this common foe each wanted the power to rule. They divided into factions based on clan and personal preference. This escalated into more fighting forcing more than half a million Somalis to flee to Kenya as refugees. More fighting raged on with the two strongest clans, Abgal and Habr Gidr. Ali Mahdi Mohamed led the Abgal while Mohamed Farah Aidid led the Habr Gidr. Mahdi was stationed in North and Aidid in the South. Fighting erupted for control over Muqdisho. Most of the city had been eradicated due to constant shelling at night, rockets, and missiles. 1000 people were dying per week due to the rampant fighting. Even though Aidid's men were better equipped since he had some weapons from former leader Barre's warehouses both sides ended up fighting to a stalemate. Gangs of young Somalis with guns began patrolling streets and all law and order had been lost. More factions emerged with men who were armed to the teeth.
When U.S. forces decided to intervene they were stepping into a danger zone. They were in the wrong place at the wrong time with angry, armed, battle hardened Somalis ready to do battle. During Operation Gothic Serpent and Task Force Ranger the U.S. Soldiers opposition was not just one clan, but all the Somalis. The U.S. thought if they captured Aidid the fighting would stop. The reality was that it wouldn't since Aidid's faction had its own leaders and there was still war to be waged over leadership. When U.S. Soldiers dropped in they ended up fighting a militia composed of all the clans and angry civilians.
Hirsch, John, and Robert Oakley. Somalia and
Operation Restore Hope. 1st. Washington, D.C.: Institute of Peace Press, 1995.