23rd October 2015: The Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen Movement, Al-Qaeda’s branch in Somalia, Puntland arm issued an audio statement pledging allegiance to the Islamic States caliphate.
Former UK-based Al Shabaab spiritual leader, Abdul Qadir Mumin pledged allegiance to the Islamic State alongside other militants of the Puntland arm based in the mountainous region of northern Somalia.
The Al Shabaab has deployed its Amniyaat wing and a special fighters unit to kill him and his small army asserting their allegiance to al Qaeda.
Al-Qaeda’s branch in Somalia, Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen Puntland arm issued an audio statement pledging allegiance to the Islamic States caliphate.
Sheikh Abdul Qadir Mumin, a high-ranking Al Shabaab spiritual leader formerly based in the UK officially pledged allegiance to the Islamic State alongside other jihadis.
This comes after months of rumored splits within the Somali based Harakat al Shabaab al Mujahideen purported to be fueled by the current leader, Ahmad Umar Iron-Fist rule and depleting finances.
Mumin commands a small faction of about 100 fighters of the current fighter estimate of 1400 strong al Shabaab fighters.
However, according to intelligence by the Somali Intelligence, NISA, this doesn’t come as a surprise as the Al Shabaab’s Amniyaat and a special unit of fighters have already been dispatched to kill Mumin and his units.
The massive crackdown on al Shabaab has depleted its money flow with most of its financial-generating activities held down by the AMISOM troops.
Additionally, the co-principles of the Harakat al Shabaab al Mujahideen have been revolved around the ability to attract foreign fighters as well as diaspora pledgers who in the recent past have seemingly inclined to leave the group creating tensions as the harakah (leadership) seeks to retain them to maintain its legitimacy.
Al Shabaab’s leadership has strongly re-asserted their stand as pro-al Qaeda as viewed in recent propaganda videos as the quotes from fallen leader Osama bin Laden and current leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri are used.
The move and pledge to ISIS has attracted mainly the younger population which is easily impressionable by the ruthlessness of ISIS as well as the attractive package upon pledging allegiance.
The move is viewed as inconsequential seeing as the odds of the numbers, the crackdown on the defectors and as well as the stringent rules and maintained pledge to al Qaeda by the al Shabaab’s harakah (Leadership).
The move by the Puntland arm to join ISIS is likely to trigger infighting in the group which has been widely viewed as both inconsequential and of little benefit to the militants in Somalia. The move clearly outlines the division in ranks in the terror organization that could fuel its ultimate annihilation.
Strategically, the pledge of allegiance to ISIS by any faction of the al Shabaab is hardly beneficial in terms of heavy weaponry and skills/expertise acquisition, rank-gaps filling to the militants attributed to the geo-location of the caliphate and Somalia.
The in-fighting brewing in Al Shabaab is an advantage to the peacekeeping troops as the focus of the al Shabaab will shift to dealing with the in-house attacks leading to their defeat sooner rather than later.