Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Al-Shabaab's intentions to expand their operations beyond Somalia

As I wrote in my last post, the Somali Islamist group al-Shabaab has now partnered with a smaller rebel group, the Ras Kamboni Brigade. Bill Roggio at Long War Journal has been following the situation in Somalia for some time and has posted the English-language text of the merger of the two groups that was announced last Friday via the internet. As the announcement states, the two groups are now to be known as "Al Shabaab Mujahideen Movement", with a focus on continuing, "[T]he fight against enemies of Allah and to seek the establishment of an Islamic government," presumably in Somalia.

Though the group's press release doesn't deal with Shabaab's intention to cement their allegiance to al-Qaeda, it does allude to a broader campaign. Near the end of statement, the two groups (Shabaab and Ras Kamboni) agreed, "To counter the international crusaders' war against Muslims and to combine the jihad of the Horn of Africa with the international jihad."

In case anyone's interested, this is a clear indication that a relatively small group of Somalis, aided by foreign assistance, mean to expand their until now localized campaign into something broader. And the implications of this for both the international community as well as the Somali people are serious. If Shabaab's fighters carry through with their threat, Somalia is no longer about about famine, lawlessness and piracy.

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