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Somali al Shabaab rebels join Twitter

Somalia's al-Qaeda-linked al Shabaab militants have apparently opened a Twitter account, using the handle @HSMPress.
Somali al shabaab rebels join twitterEnlarge
Al Shabaab's Twitter profile. (From Twitter/Screengrab)

Somalia's al-Qaeda-linked al Shabaab militants have apparently opened a Twitter account, using the handle @HSMPress.

HSM is the English acronym of the full length version of al-Shabaab’s name, the Harakat al Shabaab al-Mujahideen, the Wired news site reported.

Most followers are understood to be either journalists, aid workers or researchers of terrorism.

More on GlobalPost: Al Shabaab changes name, not tactics

The account, although still unconfirmed as being authentic, was opened on Wednesday – when six tweets were sent, Wired reported.

Although most tweets were in English, the first, in Arabic, said “In the name of God the most merciful,” which Deutsche Presse Agentur reported was a common Islamic invocation that is made before beginning something new.

Another tweet referred to a “three-hour battle” with African peacekeepers, during which al-Shabaab caused “some #Amisom casualties+base burnt.” #Fail.

In a third tweet, al Shabaab welcomed the surrender of seven Somali government soldiers after they “proclaim[ed] repentance from apostasy.”

The Twitter account was then used on Thursday to claim responsibility for attacks on African Union, or AMISOM, forces, Deutsche Presse Agentur reported.

The tweet read:

“Ugandan soldiers killed in a raid on AMISOM base in Huriwaa District, Mogadishu, early morning; Ugandan soldiers desert their posts.”

Al Shabaab's foray into the Twittersphere comes days after the rebels announced they were changing their name to Imaarah Islamiya, or “Islamic Authority,” in order to project a more mature image.

Mukhtaar Robow, one of the group's leaders, said the change came about because the name al Shabaab means “the Youth” and that “many of us, including the leaders, are very old.”

Meanwhile fresh fighting hit Mogadishu Thursday morning, with violent clashes erupting between al Shabaab and government forces in Hilliwa and Karaan districts.

Information on casualties was not immediately released.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/news/regions/africa/somalias-al-shabaab-rebels-join-twitter