Intelligence sources indicate that senior Al-Shabaab Chief Abu Ubaidah and other leaders of the Somali based militant group are discussing to turn their loyalty to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) amid Al Shabaab setbacks. In this course, they are also laying down strategies to cut off ties with Al-Qaeda and its leader Ayman al-Zawihiri.
Al-Qaeda formally dissociated itself from ISIS in February 2014 with Al Qaeda’s top command formerly announcing that ISIS would no longer be a branch of the former. This meant that Al Qaeda was no longer responsible for any actions that accrued to ISIS, which emerged to be composed of highly radical militants.
Al Shabaab merged with Al-Qaeda in 2012. In March, ISIL leader sent invitation to Al-Shabaab Chief Abu Ubaidah, encouraging the Somali militant group to wage Jihad on neighboring countries, notably Kenya, Ethiopia and Tanzania.
Early indicators of Al Shabaab interest in ISIS
Earlier intelligence reports indicated a trend in Al Shabaab aping the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in their terrorism strategies. The reports highlighted the possibility of the Al Qaeda linked Harakat Al Shabaab Al Mujahideen (HSM) trying to fit in ISIS.
- ISIL beheading style– some recent videos released by the Al Shabaab militants have shown the militants beheading some of their victims.
- ISIL recruitment strategies on social media– this is another style aped by Al Shabaab though it is a strategy, originally identified with ISIS.
- Propaganda videos– It is also an ISIS strategy that has been imitated by Al Shabaab militants to issue terror threats in a bid to remain relevant.
Al Shabaab has also copied Boko Haram strategies of looting their subjects. Boko Haram pledged allegiance to ISIS early March.