A senior leader of al Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia has declared jihad against neighboring Kenya for supporting the weak Somali Transitional Federal Government.
The declaration of jihad against Kenya came from Sheikh Hussein Abdi Gedi, the deputy leader of Shabaab in the strategic southern port city of Kismayo. During an interview on Al Andalus Radio, Shabaab’s radio station, Gedi accused Kenya of arming and training Somali’s disorganized military.
“Kenya has prepared troops that comprise of Kenyans and Somalis, who are trained to attack and take over the regions,” Gedi said, according to Garowe. “They are planning to attack us on the land, sea and air. We are urging people to be ready and defend our land.”
Gedi’s statement comes just days after the Ras Kamboni Brigade, formerly one of the four groups in the Hizbul Islam alliance, broke ties to the group and joined Shabaab. Both Shabaab and the Ras Kamboni Brigade pledged support for al Qaeda and the international jihad.
Kenya has trained more than 2,500 troops to fight against Shabaab and other anti-government Islamist terror groups such as Hizbul Islam, according to a Feb. 6 report in Garowe. The troops “are expected to complete the trainings in the coming days,” a Kenya military official involved in the training told the newspaper.
The Somali government has promised that it will launch yet another offensive in Mogadishu in an attempt to eject Shabaab and Hizbul Islam from the capital. Previous offensives have failed to dislodge the Islamist groups.
The weak Transitional Federal Government, backed by thousands of African Union peacekeepers, controls only small enclaves within the capital of Mogadishu, and little else. The South is firmly in the hands of Shabaab and Hizbul Islam, although Shabaab has gained the upper hand since the merger with the Ras Kamboni Brigade.
A pro-government Sufi Islamist militia called Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama’a controls some regions in central Somalia, however, and often clashes with Shabaab and Hizbul Islam.