This paper examines the role of Islamic fundamentalists in Somalia from the colonial period to the present. The analysis takes into account factors that (are said to) inspire Islamic movements worldwide as well factors specific to the region, namely the four “elementary pillars” of Somali society (Sufism, nationalism, clanism, and Islamism). The paper pays particular attention to the key players within Somalia and to the influence external (i.e. non-Somali) actors exert on them. The combined approach used here offers considerable explanatory power in accounting for why the political influence of Islamic fundamentalists in Somalia has varied over time. The fluctuation of Islamic fundamentalist influence shows that there exist certain ideologies in Somalia that have shaped the country’s history through all political periods. The paper draws on these overarching ideologies to draw (tentative) conclusions on current events (2006/07) in Somalia.