Nairobi: The Somali militant group al-Shabab
has formally joined al Qaeda, according to a video translation
released on Friday of a message from al Qaeda's leader.
Ayman al- Zawahiri gave "glad tidings" that al-Shabab had
joined al Qaeda, according to the translation of the 15-minute
video by the Site Intelligence group.
"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 Qaedat al-Jihad, to support the jihadi unity
against the Zio-Crusader campaign and their assistants amongst
the treacherous agent rulers," he said.
Al-Shabab leaders have pledged allegiance to al Qaeda in
the past, releasing a video in 2009 called "At Your Service
Osama!" The same year, former al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden
released a video in which he made encouraging comments about
the Somali insurgency.
But the new al- Zawahiri video which was posted on an
Islamic Internet forum on today is the first formal welcoming
of al-Shabab by the new al Qaeda leader. The new video also
featured al-Shabab chairman Mukhtar Abu Zubeyr, also known as
Godane, pledging allegiance to al- Zawahiri.
Somalia's al-Shabab militia is a mix of conscripts, paid
fighters, clan militias, and ideologues. It counts a few
hundred foreign fighters among its ranks. Most are drawn from
other East African nations but a few have traveled from as far
afield as Pakistan and Chechnya.
The foreigners brought cash and tactical and bomb-making
knowledge to al-Shabab, but the extent of al-Shabab's formal
links to al Qaeda have often been unclear.
Clan allegiances are still an important part of the
21-year-old Somali civil war, which currently pits al-Shabab
against the weak UN-backed government. The government is
supported by some 10,000 African Union troops and allied
First Published: Friday, February 10, 2012, 22:32