Islamic Emirate of Somalia imminent as Shabaab races to consolidate power
Imagery of a Shabaab fighter from the terror groups' website.
Leaders of Shabaab, the Young Mujahideen Movement in Somalia, stated Friday that the group is preparing for the establishment of an Islamic Emirate and that an announcement is expected within days. The statement came as the group consolidated power in the Lower Juba region, which borders Kenya, and formed a sharia-based administration in Kismayo.
Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Mukhtar Robow, who is also known as Abu Mansur, and top leader Sheikh Fuad Mohamed Qalaf told a Paltalk forum organized by the radical al Qimmah Forum that fighters "are close to uniting their ranks" and would integrate under the rule of the Islamic Emirate of Somalia. They said that the formation of the emirate is "imminent" and that an announcement would be made "very soon."
Shabaab also announced on its official Web site that it set up an administration in Kismayo, Lower Juba's strategic port city. The seven-seat administration will be governed by Sheikh Abubakar Al Zeylici with three seats provided to Shabaab, three seats to the Islamic Courts, and a single seat to clan elders. Shabaab will control the offices of the District Commissioner, Information Secretary and Police Chief, while the Islamic Courts will control the offices of Finance Secretary, Head of Islamic Protocol and Chief Justice, Garowe Online reported.
Although Kismayo remains calm, elders and Islamic Courts commanders who were not included in the administration voiced criticism. "Shabaab appointed its people to top posts without inviting other local people and the ICU that played a military role in taking over Kismayo," Courts commander Sheikh Ibrahim Shukri, who is also known as Abu Seynab, told AFP today. The process, he said, was "hijacked by elements who met in a small room."
"The administration should include the local clans," he told Garowe Online. It is only "composed of al Shabaab and some former members of the Islamic Courts."
According to the Somaliweyn Media Center, the administration in Kismayo will be broken down as follows:
Provincial Commissioner: Sheikh Abubakar Al Zeylici (Shabaab)
Deputy Commissioner: Abdulqani Mohamed Yussuf (Shabaab)
Head of Security: Abdurahman Ali Ahmed (Shabaab)
Deputy Head of Security: Mohamed Sahal Eidle (Shabaab)
Finance Secretary: Abdiweli Adan Dheriyow (Islamic Courts)
Deputy Finance Secretary: Abraham Ahmed Isse (Islamic Courts)
Head of Islamic Protocol: Khalid Mohamed Adan (Islamic Courts)
Deputy Head of Islamic Protocol: Adurahman Ahmed Adan (Islamic Courts)
Information Secretary: Sheikh Hassan Yacqub Ali (Shabaab)
Deputy Information Secretary: Abdifath Abraham Ali (Shabaab)
It is unknown what position within the administration will be provided to the clan representative.
The administration, according to rebel communiqués, was formed after weeks of deliberations between Shabaab fighters and clan elders after Kismayo fell to Shabaab on August 22. Elders of four influential clans in Juba - the Beesha Sade, Beesha Gaaljecel, Cawromale, and Sheekhaal clans - pledged an oath of bayat to Islamist leaders on Friday and promised both financial and military assistance.
A breakthrough took place over the weekend when a high-level delegation from the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) traveled from Asmara, Eritrea to Kismayo to negotiate with Islamist warlord Hassan Abdullah Hersi al Turki, whose militia controls Ras Kamboni. They delivered a personal message to al Turki from Islamist leader Hassan Dahir Aweys, according to multiple Somali press accounts, and brought supplies for Kismayo hospital. Aweys was designated by the US as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Executive Order 13224 in 2001 and has close links to senior al Qaeda leaders.
Shortly after the meeting, Shabaab announced that al Turki rejected support for ARS and declared his alliance to Shabaab. It is believed that Aweys - looking ahead to the establishment of the Islamic Emirate - instructed al Turki to formally distance himself from ARS and its peace negotiations with the secular Transitional Federal Government (TFG) based in Baidoa and Mogadishu. Although the ARS and Shabaab ultimately share the same goal there remain differences over process. Al Turki was designated by the US as a financier of terrorism under Executive Order 13224 in June 2004 and was recently targeted by US AC-130 gunship attacks in March 2008.
"These developments are extremely serious," a source close to the TFG told The Long War Journal. "This will invite more money, weapons and fighters to come to Somalia. We have lost Lower Juba to al Qaeda. It is becoming a mini-Waziristan in East Africa," the source said referring to the lawless, Taliban and al Qaeda controlled tribal agency in Pakistan.
Shabaab, which has formally reached out to al Qaeda with a request for full integration into the terror network, has also stepped up attacks on Mogadishu. The attacks are part of "Operation No Peace Without Islam," Shabaab spokesman said last week, and will continue through the holy month of Ramadan.
For more information on the resurgence of Shabaab and the Islamic Courts in Somalia, see:
• Al Qaeda-linked Shabaab in control of southern Somalia,
Aug. 25, 2008
• Shabaab reaches out to al Qaeda senior leaders, announces death al Sudani
Sept. 2, 2008