Al-Qaeda and Islamic States cells will launch a spate of attacks during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Already a spate of attacks have been recorded on the 1st day of the holy month. In East Africa, particularly in Somalia and Kenya, the Al-Qaeda branch in the region Harakat Shabaab Mujahideen has lined up weekly terrorist activities aimed at killing both security officers and unarmed civilians. The region is at high alert and Great Lakes Chiefs of intelligence have agreed to share more intelligence on terrorism to stymie the increasing risk posed by both Al-Qaeda and ISIS, a brilliant and much needed counter terrorism move at the right time.
We briefly examine the carnage often caused by the Somali based Islamist group, Harakat Shabaab Mujahideen (HSM) during this Holy period, besides, put a lens on possible ISIS activity in Kenya to rump up ISIS Central watershed moments this year.
To begin with, we must understand that Shabaab Mujahideen is morphing its strategy and at the same time, undergoing a transition period after significant losses and fiscal decline. The group’s capability to orchestrate and conduct terrorists operations in Somalia and along the Kenyan border have been significantly weakened by surgical and precision clandestine airstrikes in Gedo and Juba prefectures. These developments have however made insurgency to be at the top of the Islamists agenda list. At the core of the surge is a desire to remain Al-Qaeda’s most valued branch and usurp the authority of the Federal Government of Somalia and the regional military power, specifically Kenya. This, HSM, believes is achievable with its thousands of fighters across the country, significant quantities of military equipment that match African Mission in Somalia AMISOM, and large swathes of territory under its control. More so, within this core is a significant cadre of quite expreinced militants from Yemen, Pakistani, Syria, Afghanistan, and the Islamic Maghreb, all who are capable of conducting devastating terrorist operations and cross-border terrorist operations, albeit its heavy losses in Central and Southern Somalia.
The Islamic States branch in East Africa, Abnaa Ul Khalifaa hasn’t made any significant forays beyond Somalia. However, the Islamic States Central latest video could have the terrifying consequences envisaged by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, activate and embolden overseas cells and groups. The video came at a time when ISIS affiliates desperately deeded morale boost. The resurfacing of their Emir will most certainly birth the terrorist groups’ resurgence. The mere appearance on camera of the head could also boost the terror groups’ manpower and revive the Jahbah East Africa cells in Tanzania, Burundi, Uganda, and Kenya. In the video, Baghdadi beseeches militants and supporters to continue fighting and to reinforce ISIS affiliate groups while expanding the terror groups’ footprints. IS Somalia will attempt to surge and with it, supporters and cells will try to reinforce the group as Baghdadi wishes.
However, with military and civilian intelligence agencies across the region this forewarned, it’ll prove difficult for the two terrorist groups to conduct terror attacks and if they do, they’ll not achieve core objectives. And that’s the truly profound. Their failure and decline will continue over time.