Strategic Intelligence has been gathering available data on the fabled Jaysh Ayman, Al-Hijra and its propaganda machine whose cog wheels were under the stewardship of Shaykh Ahmad Iman Ali and subjected the coarse intelligence to systematic empirical analyses. There are two biases from the analysis, our lead analyst’s project, the publisher of Gaidi Mtaani docked his ship in the Araby to learn about strategic leadership. Two, the man could be in Jiliib providing PsyOps solutions to Al-Shabaab’s war council. And if none of these possibilities suffice to make sense, then Ali is still in the bush along the Kenyan border with Somalia lecturing, planning, and preaching jihad.
Interestingly though, the designate Harakat al-Shabaab Mujahideen (HSM) Branch in Kenya Al-Hijra (Islamic for new-year), under the auspice of an ex-convict has been named as foreign terrorist organization (FTO) by the Americans. In a statement through the State Department, Washington amended the designation of al-Shabaab – an al-Qa’ida affiliate in Somalia – to include al-Hijra and other aliases, as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO).
Why Al-Hijra is Now an FTO
Al-Hijra, formed in 2008 in Nairobi, Kenya serves as a wing of al-Shabaab. Al-Hijra, which is extensively interconnected with al-Shabaab both organizationally and operationally, consists primarily of Kenyan and Somali followers of al-Shabaab in East Africa. The Al-Hijra’s terror unit primary tasks was to entrench the terrorists’ ideology around Lamu and broader coastal region and conducting attacks in Kenya. Strategic Intelligence analysis shows that, Al-Shabaab objective through Al-Hijra’s ‘Jaysh Ayman’ is to grab control of the largely Muslim North Eastern prefecture and the Coastal Counties sectarian violence and sabotaging the tourism industry.
However, there’s has been speculation that the group and its Emir are dead. Iman Ali’s Al-Hijra is not dead though. S.I has traced its publications at virtual jihad shops and moderate terrorism monitoring publications. The outfit is taking up an active role in reporting and providing updates about outcomes of terrorist activities in Somalia, Middle East, and the Maghreb. Though not as reliable, some credible publications cite and quote Al-Hijra as their source of information, an indicator the outfit is still in existence and good books with the parent organization, Harakat Al-Shabaab Mujahideen. The group has also managed to build capacity among its mid-level command in North Eastern Kenya. Every area has a commander able to plan, co-ordinate, and carryout operations in the prefecture. The increased attacks in the prefecture besides active role in recruiting and distributing jihadists in Tanzania and beyond add to the list of factors that make Al-Hijra an FTO.
The group was founded in December 2008 Founded in December 2008 by Ahmad Iman Ali, an engineering graduate from the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. Firstly, known as Muslim Youth Center (MYC). It was based in Pumwani, Nairobi’s outskirt and was originally a positive influence on Muslim youth around the country with its model of economic and social activism combined with charity work. The Pumwani-based Muslim Youth Center (MYC), identified as Pumwani Muslim Youth Centre or Al Hijra later turned to a recruitment ground for terrorist group and has been on Kenyan security radar.
The outfits’ roots are traced to Majengo, in Pumwani, a shanty slum located a few kilometers from Nairobi‘s city Centre. It is from this slum that the highest number of Kenyan fighters for Al-Shabaab in Somalia originated. Al-Hijra cells are responsible for devastating attacks in Lamu, Garissa, Wajir and Mandera areas of Kenya’s North Eastern Prefecture, besides the hijacking of vehicles which the terrorists then modify as tactical vehicles for terrorism activities along the porous border and in Somalia.
Though a number of its senior leaders and founder members have been killed in Somalia, the Al-Shabaab offshoot has increased the number of ideological moves in mentioned Kenyan counties through intimidation of residents and radical preaching. The young Al-Shabaab fighters drawn from Jaysh Ayman (Al-Hijra) are accused of planning to wage jihad ‘holy war’ in Kenya and across the East African region.