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Yesterday Harakat Al Shabaab Almujahideen’s media wing Al- Kataib (the brigades) released a new professionally produced documentary video,the first since the groups merger with Al-Qaeda , the documentary depicts a battle in the early hours of the 16th of September last year, (almost a month before Kenya’s incursion)between it and the Kenyan backed Azania Militia in the border town of ‘el waq.
The video is “dedicated to the martyr of da’wa (propagation) Shiekh Anwar Al awlaki” – a US born Muslim cleric killed in a CIA drone strike in his country of origin Yemen- the cleric regarded by the US authorities as an influential leader in Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) was linked to several plots against western targets according to the Obama administration.
The cleric who features prominently in the documentary, closely followed and was an ardent supporter of Al-Shabaab and regarded their insurgent state a model worthy of emulation by other jihadi groups, in a letter dated in late 2008 to the group he stated;
“We are following your recent news and it fills our hearts with immense joy. We would like to
congratulate you for your victories and achievements.”
….“I would like to take this opportunity to advise my brothers to be kind and soft with the masses; to excuse them for centuries of ignorance and false beliefs; to teach first and hold responsible last. I would advise you to go by certainty and to leave doubts; to prefer forgiveness over revenge. The masses of the people are suffering from the illnesses of tribalism, ignorance, and a campaign of defamation of Sharia. Therefore you need to win the hearts and minds of the people and take them back to their fitrah.”
Imam Anwar Awlaki who increasingly adopted Al Qaeda’s rhetoric since his move to Yemen, was not indicted in a US court of law nor did he admit to being part of AQAP , sparking debate in the US as to the legality of his killing.
Al Shabaab military spokesman Sheikh ‘abdulaziz abu mus’ab describing the reason for choosing location of the attack is seen standing in front of a seemingly brand new military water tanker – khaki coloured vehicles and olive green uniforms are the trademark Kenyan backed Somali forces.
Interestingly for the first time, apart from the usual English accented narrator who is perhaps the same person behind Al Shabaab’s twitter account (@hsmpress) , a new narrator with American accent this time is heard doing the “voice over translation” on sheikh ‘abdulaziz abu mus’ab’s interview with Al-kataib.
With the rise if the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) and later enraged by Ethiopian brutal invasion of Somalia back in 2006, Americans and other foreign fighters have been disappearing from western cities, to join the ranks of Somalia’s islamist insurgents. Notably, many US citizens the vast majority of whom have ancestral ties with Somalia have played increasingly prominent roles within the Islamist militia both on and off the field.
A former assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted suspected al Shabaab supporters in Minnesota stated to the Associated press (AP) ;
“They are being deployed in roles that appear to be shrewdly calculated to raise al-Shabab’s international profile and to recruit others, especially those from the United States and other English-speaking countries,”
Al-shabaab in this battle recovered significant amounts of military hardware including, radio communication equipment, 91 AK47 assault rifles , 25 PKM machine guns , six 82mm rocket launchers , 8 battle wagons with anti aircraft guns , 3 large transportation vehicles and 2 “stores” of ammunition. vehicles that rendered of no immediate benefit were set alight.
Although out gunned by the Kenyans, Ethiopians and AMISOM, there’s no doubt about the Islamist insurgent’s prowess on field against local rivals supported by foreign governments. Below are pictures released by Somali language news sites sympathetic to Al Shabaab of a number of vehicles , rifles and ammunition recovered , after battle that took place between the Islamist militia and forces backed by Kenya, in early December last year near Xayo in the lower jubba region. (Click to enlarge)
For the first time in a battle setting, towards the end of the video, a man Identified as “brother Abu ahmed from kenya” ,whose facial features which can be seen through the kifyah mask has been blurred out ,is seen speaking in Swahili describing the war booty, talking to the camera and clearly addressing fellow Kenyans Abu Ahmad states;
“Dear brothers in faith , in and out of Somalia: infornt of us is booty of war that Allah has provided us, and these are among the blessings of jiahd, this war booty was taken from the enemy of Allah our enemy, and this was provided to the enemy by the infidel government of Kenya, over here are PKM bullets and they are quite a lot as you can see….”
Since the beginning id the Islamist insurgency in its northern neighbour Kenya has witnessed rise of a shadowy group of Al Shabaab proxies in Kenya, namely The Muslim Youth Council (MYC) more commonly known as the Pumwani Muslim Youth(PMY) ,described in the UN monitoring group report on Somalia as having;
“developed a strong network of members and sympathizers in areas such as Eldoret, Garissa and Mombasa”
Sheikh Ahmed Iman Ali leader the MYC chapter in southern Somalia is evidently a rising star , recently the sheikh featured for the first time in a video entitled (But If They Seek Your Help In Religion, It Is Your Duty To Help Them “ produced by Al Shabaabs media wing Al-kataaib and released on 7th January 2012, in it sheikh Ahmed called his supporters to wage jihad on Kenya for its incursion into Somalia, and “seeking help from the jews” in reference to a government statement, in which Kenyan prime minister Raila Odinga asked Israeli President Shimon Peres, for assistance in building the capacity of the Kenyan police to deal with militant threats from Somalia.
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