A senior al Shabaab commander and about 20 of his followers have pledged allegiance to Islamic State, the first move of its kind to emerge in the Somali militant group.
There was no immediate reaction from al Shabaab’s overall leadership, which aligned itself in 2012 to al Qaeda, a group that has declared Islamic State’s leader illegitimate.
Experts have been watching to see if the rise of Islamic State in Syria, Iraq and other battlefields, would draw al Shabaab’s public support, but said the impact of any such alliance would be largely symbolic given geographical distance would hinder an exchange of material supplies.
“We, the mujahideen of Somalia, declare allegiance to the caliph as Ibrahim ibn Awad ibn Ibrahim al-Awad al-Qurashi,” Abdiqadir Mumin, an al Shabaab commander in the Puntland region of Somalia, said in an audio tape published on YouTube.
Nigerian militants Boko Haram also pledged allegiance to Islamic State this year, a move seen as highlighting a desire by African jihadists to link up with others in the Middle East and elsewhere.
Islamic State has accepted pledges of allegiance from groups in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan and North Africa.
A follower of al Shabaab’s Mumin confirmed the veracity of the recording declaring allegiance to al-Qurashi, better known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Islamic State and self-proclaimed caliph of the Muslim world.
“Senior leader Abdiqadir Mumin and his 20 fighters, including me, joined ISIS,” one of Mumin’s supporters told Reuters by telephone, using one acronym for Islamic State.
Mumin had been based in the Galgala hills in Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region, said the supporter, who asked not to be identified. The 20 came from a group of 300 in Galgala, he said, adding that his group had now moved to another area.
“The other fighters rejected us and remained in the Galgala hills,” he said.
There are no clear figures for the strength of al Shabaab, but diplomats put it at several thousand fighters. One expert said the announcement suggested a small split in the ranks.
Al Shabaab, which ruled much of Somalia for several years until 2011, was driven out of most urban centers by an offensive launched by African Union forces and Somali troops last year. Some were driven north to Puntland, experts say.
Puntland’s security minister dismissed Mumin’s declaration. “Puntland forces are ready and determined to eliminate ISIS,” Abdi Hirsi Ali said.
Somaliland Head To Polls For Councillors And MPs On May 31, 2021 Last updated May 31, 2021
Voters in the self-proclaimed republic of Somaliland are heading to the polls on May, 31 to choose their member of parliament for the first time since 2005.
Somaliland broke off from mainland Somalia after the regime of Siad Barre in 1991.
The 5.2 Million citizens of Somaliland will be making yet another stab at global recognition as some 1.3 million voters head to the polls to choose 82 members of parliament and 247 local councils.
An election whose measure of democracy Somaliland hopes to use in its quest to certify its sovereignty.
Somaliland’s three political parties in the polls are opposition politicians Faisal Warabe’s UCID, Wadani led by another opposition leader Abdirahman Erye and President Muse Bihi Kulmiye party.
The elections is observed by over a hundred international observers including Uganda’s former opposition leader, Kizza Besigye and ex-president of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Korma.
”Our visit to the headquarters of the Somaliland National Electoral Commission left us with a good impression about the Commission’s preparedness to conduct peaceful and credible elections,” said in a Twitter post.
The elections are taking place in six regions of Somaliland, namely Awdal, Sahil, Marodi-Jeeh, Toghdeer, Sanaag and Sool.
3 Somalia Regional States Say No To Farmaajo Term Extension.
The regional state leaders of Southwest, HirShabelle, and Galmudug allied with incumbent President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo have opposed to any form of extension on Tuesday evening.
In a joint statement Galmudug and HirShabelle called for dialogue based on 17 September pact.
“We agreed that the country should hold elections as soon as possible and that any form of extension should be abolished,” read part of the joint statement by HirShabelle and Galmudug.
Southwest leader Abdiaziz laftagaren also opposed the term extension of the President just an hour after Galmudug and HirShabelle released a joint statement.
The move by the three regional states allied to President was welcomed by Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble who also instructed the military commanders to pull back forces to their locations and barracks.
“I would like to welcome the press statements made by Galmudug and HirShabelle federal states, ” PM Roboe said in a statement.
“I call on the FMS states of Puntland and Jubaland and Benadir region to fully commit to a peaceful process in our efforts to hold free and inclusive election, ” he added.
United Nations, United Kingdom, United States and opposition leaders including former President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud commended the move by the regional states.
“The UN in Somalia noting statements by Qoorqqor, Ali Gudlawe, PM Roble and others recalls int’l partners position: consensus is vital for any electoral process; only 17 September model can be endorsed by FGS and all FMS; all parties must reject violence and resume dialogue, ” the United Nations said.
The development comes as families in some parts of Mogadishu fleed from their residences and moved to other district followings clashes.
Somali Gov’t Warns Al-Shabaab & ISIS Will Capitalize On SNA Faction Clashes.
Somali National Security Minister Hassan Hundubey has warned opposition groups to be wary of “unknown elements” including Al-Shabaab and Daesh who might seek to use the current crisis to inflict harm to the public.
Speaking to the media on Tuesday said that the government may take action to confront people with the “behaviour of militias” who are taking advantage of the situation.
“The government has enough troops to take control of the city. It is Ramadan, but more actions need to be taken to prevent it.” mr. Hundebey said.
”The reason the prime minister called for dialogue is that the government does not want the fighting to affect the residence,” he added.
The remarks by the interior minister come hours after the international partners strongly condemned the outbreak of violence in the capital.
“We are alarmed especially by the emerging fragmentation of the Somali National Army along clan lines, which detracts from its primary task of combating Al Shabab and protecting the Somali population. Use of security forces for the pursuit of political objectives is unacceptable” the statement read in part.
As tensions increase in Mogadishu following Sunday clashes between government soldiers and those who were against President Farmaajo’s two years term extension.