Connect to share and comment

Riots rage in Mombasa, Kenya over killing of Muslim cleric Aboud Rogo Mohammed (VIDEO)

Hundreds of angry youths threw stones, barricaded roads with burning tires and looted shops in Kisauni, a predominantly Muslim area of Mombasa.

Kenya churches hit by deadly attacks

Garissa is home to a military base used to deploy ground forces to Somalia to fight al Shabaab insurgents.

Triple threat: Coordination suspected between African terrorist organizations

Despite scant evidence, government officials are concerned by potential operational links between Al Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb, Boko Haram in Nigeria, and Al Shabaab in Somalia.
Al qaeda boko haram al shabaab terror coordinationEnlarge
A car lies upside-down, vandalized on June 17 by Christian mobs in reprisal for a suicide bomb attack. Nigeria's Boko Haram Islamists claimed responsibility for suicide attacks on three churches that sparked reprisals by Christian mobs who rampaged and burned mosques, killing least 52 people. (Victor Ulasi/AFP/Getty Images)
NAIROBI — The top US military commander for Africa has warned that Al Qaeda affiliates are seeking to strengthen ties across the continent. General Carter Ham, commander of the US Africa Command (AFRICOM), described Nigeria's Boko Haram, Somalia's Al Shabaab and the Saharan Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb as "dangerous and worrisome" but added that there were signs the groups were trying to coordinate their activities.

Mombasa terrorist attack 'imminent,' warns US Embassy in Kenya

The warning comes shortly after police in the port city seized chemical substances that they suspect were to be used to make explosives.

Explosion in downtown Nairobi, Kenya leaves many wounded (VIDEO)

The prime minister claimed that the blast was the work of terrorists.

Somali radio journalist gunned down in Mogadishu

A Somali radio journalist, and former head of a private radio station in the country's capital Mogadishu, was gunned down in front of his home Tuesday.

Somalia's Al Shabaab losing ground in Africa

Al Shabaab faces a stronger military onslaught in Ethiopia and Kenya.
Somalia shabaab al qaeda 2012 2 22Enlarge
African Union soldiers fire off during a heavy firefight with Al Shabaab near Bakara main market in Mogadishu on May 22, 2011. (Abdurashid Abikar/AFP/Getty Images)

NAIROBI, Kenya — Somalia's Islamist militants, Al Shabaab, which recently announced its formal incorporation into Al Qaeda, seems to be losing ground.

On Wednesday Ethiopian and Somali soldiers took the central town of Baidoa which is a key strategic city that had once served as a seat of government.

More from GlobalPost: Kenyan and AMISOM forces aim to expel Al Shabaab

Ethiopian soldiers backed by government-aligned militia have pushed Al Shabaab out of other towns and villages along Somalia's western border in recent months adding to the pressure Al Shabaab is under elsewhere in the country.

In the south Kenya's army is making slow progress in its advance on Kismayo, a port town and militant stronghold, while in the capital Mogadishu African Union peacekeepers are forcing Al Shabaab ever further from the center of the city.

It is too early to count Al Shabaab out but they are facing a stronger military onslaught than at any time since their insurgency began five years ago.

More from GlobalPost: Somalia News: Schools raided for child soldiers


Al Shabaab and Al Qaeda co-produce video

A joint video message from Al Qaeda and Al Shabaab leader was posted on jihadist websites on Thursday.
Somali militia serving with amisomEnlarge
Militia allied with the Federal Government of Somalia and Kenyan Defence Force soldiers walk along the coast near Burgabo village, Southern Somalia on December 14, 2011. Burgabo is a Somalian port village which has been secured by Kenyan forces as they advance further up the Somali coastline in search of Al-Shabaab fighters. (Carl de Souza/AFP/Getty Images)

NAIROBI, Kenya — A joint video message from Al Qaeda's head Ayman al-Zawahri and Al Shabaab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane was posted on the web on Thursday declaring that the Somali Islamist militants are now formally part of the Al Qaeda terror network.

This should not come as a surprise. Al Shabaab pledged its allegiance to Al Qaeda in early 2009, a year after it was designated a Foreign Terrorist Organisation by the US. But the connection has always been loose.

Al Shabaab has employed Al Qaeda style tactics — roadside bombs, individual suicide bombers and coordinated suicide attacks — which indicate links in terms of training and therefore personnel. Some senior Al Shabaab commanders (including Godane) are Afghanistan veterans with personal connections to Al Qaeda leaders. And Al Shabaab has provided support to Al Qaeda operatives including Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, one of the masterminds of the US embassy bombings in 1998 who was shot dead in Mogadishu last summer.

More from GlobalPost: Al Shabaab bans Red Cross in Somalia

In the 15-minute video message translated by the Site Intelligence Group Zawahri is quoted as saying:

"Today, I have glad tidings for the Muslim Ummah that will please the believers and disturb the disbelievers, which is the joining of the Shabaab al-Mujahideen Movement in Somalia to Qaeda al-Jihad, to support the jihadi unity against the Zio-Crusader campaign and their assistants amongst the treacherous agent rulers."

Zawahri's message was preceded by an audio recording of Godane in which he pledged allegiance:

"We will move along with you as faithful soldiers... In the name of my mujahedeen brothers, leaders and soldiers... I pledge obedience."

More from GlobalPost: UN re-establishes a presence in Mogadishu after 17-year hiatus

There are likely to be two impacts for Al Shabaab, one weakening and one strengthening.

On the one hand Godane's declaration will exacerbate existing divisions within Al Shabaab between those with a nationalist Somali agenda and those who wish to fight a more global jihad, thus weakening the group which is already under growing regional military pressure.

At the same time becoming a fully-fledged Al Qaeda franchise might bring Al Shabaab greater resources, more fighters and greater ambition to launch attacks outside Somalia, most likely in neighboring Kenya or Ethiopia, both of which have sent troops to Somalia in recent months to fight Al Shabaab.


Al Shabaab bans Red Cross in Somalia

The suspension of the ICRC’s food distribution could worsen the humanitarian crisis already hitting the country, a Somali government minister said, Reuters reported. According to the United Nations, 250,000 Somalis already live in famine conditions and 4 million are in need of aid.
Syndicate content