The Islamic States has recognized Somalia as part of its prefecture. In the latest online publication of the terror groups magazine Nabha, an info-graphic, ISIS has included ‘wilayat al-Somal’, an indicator of Abnaa Ul-Calipha’s growth in Somalia. Strategic Intelligence demystifies Abnaa Ul-Calipha, besides seeks to understand what this development means to the fluid situation in East Africa and what regional states can do well to combat the multiple threats. The Islamic State in Somalia (ISS) or Abnaa ul-Calipha is a Jihadist terror organization in Somalia or ‘Wilayat al Somal’. Abnaa ul-Calipha sprouted in the northern part of Somalia after splintering from al-Qaeda branch Al Shabaab. Abnaa Ul-Calipha was founded in October 2015 by Sheikh Abdul Qadir Mumin after he pledged bay’ah to Emir Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Swearing fealty to ISIS, orchestrated a war between the splinter and its parent and eventually a vicious campaign targeting the defectors. While the pledge of allegiance to ISIS was not recognized or accepted until late 2017, the organization regrouped and conducted several high-profile attacks mainly in the north semiautonomous state of Puntland that was used as a honeypot for recruits in the region.
In early 2018, Abnaa ul-Calipha released a video shot in Galgala Mountains that showed the recruits singing and taking baths in natural fresh water streams, combat training as well as a number of recruits receiving religious teachings. The video was posted on ISIS’ propaganda website as a way to appeal to Jihadists. As of the end of 2017, SI reports indicated at least 300 soldiers of Somalia’s Province of ISIS were active in Somalia with most concentrated in the northern mountainous region of Puntland with some active cells in central and south Somalia. Abnaa Ul-Calipha conducted its first attack in Somalia in April 2015 when an IED hit an AMISOM convoy which was followed by others like the Qandala campaign and numerous assassinations of security officers and elders in Mogadishu.
Mumin’s Reason For Allegiance Shift To ISIS
Sheikh Mumin was aggrieved by the laxity of al Shabaab especially in the northern part of Somalia which in turn prompted him to seek a more radical position as advanced by ISIL. Moreover, the al Shabaab leadership in the south seemed to neglect the north which created a vacuum that would only be filled by a new leader with proactive ideologies. Mumin’s target was the youth from some of the most marginalized clans and as such he felt allegiance to ISIS would offer them the technical, financial and logistical capability to establish an all-inclusive caliphate. Also, shortly after pledging allegiance to ISIS, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – Yemen Province started to send experts, trainers, money, weapons and other materials to ISS which further propelled the organization. Mumin felt that aligning himself with ISIS would offer the new organization the much-needed international acclaim, and support that would offer resources much needed to propagate their agenda in Somalia.
Recent propaganda info-graphic recognizes Abnaa ul-Calipha’s operatios in Somalia, a strong indication that the Al-Baghdadi ISIS holds its Somalia’s province with higher esteem than previously anticipated. This automatically multiplies the threat in the already fluid situation in East and Horn of Africa region.
Repercussions Of Abnaa Ul-Calipha’s Recognition By ISIS To Horn/East Africa
Increased violence and attacks on both civilian and security agencies targets- The recognition by ISIS is projected to fuel and revamp the terror organization’s activities potentially because of increased resources and morale boost. Also, ISS is likely to feel the need to prove itself as a formidable province and advancing the supreme agenda of its parent-organization in Iraq and Syria.
- An Upsurge in radicalization- a spike in activity by the organization is likely to appeal to a lot of people seeking to join the organization. Hence, the need to expand is likely to increase recruitment and radicalization in the region with cells being created across the region.
- Infighting between Al Shabaab and ISIS’ Wilayat al Somal- currently, al Shabaab, which is affiliated to Al Qaeda is the dominant terror organization and as such the entry of ISS is likely to spur a rivalry wars over territory and resources which could yield numerous cases of collateral damage on the citizenry of the countries in the region.
- Insecurity- a growing presence of ISS operatives in the region will actively and negatively affect the security of the region. As aforementioned, indiscriminate attacks would increase as well as retaliatory military action and locally mobilized militias.
Economic degradation- without a doubt the economic development of regions marred by terror groups and activities are gravely affected by attacks both offensive and counterterrorism campaigns and as such the region would suffer greatly. The region which is tourist hub would suffer majorly because of travel advisories and lack of foreign investments plunging further into destitution.