1 The Long War Journal: Alleged Shabaab operative to stand trial in New York
Written by Thomas Joscelyn on July 6, 2011 1:06 PM to 1 The Long War Journal
Available online at: http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2011/07/alleged_al_shabaab_o.php
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced the indictment of a Somali man who allegedly worked for Shabaab and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame was arrested on April 19 and, according to multiple press reports, held for questioning on board a US Navy ship for two months before being transferred to New York to stand trial.
The unsealed indictment contains multiple allegations linking Warsame to both the al Qaeda-affiliated Shabaab and AQAP. According to the DOJ, Warsame fought for Shabaab in Somalia, received explosives training from AQAP in Yemen, and helped broker an arms deal between Shabaab and AQAP. The DOJ also announced that Warsame is "charged with conspiring from about 2009 until April 2011 to teach and demonstrate the making of explosives, destructive devices and weapons of mass destruction and to distribute such information to others."
Shabaab's ties to AQAP
The indictment of Warsame follows a series of reports connecting Shabaab to AQAP. In late June, the US targeted two Shabaab leaders in a drone attack. An anonymous US military official told the Washington Post that the two had "direct ties" to AQAP cleric Anwar al Awlaki.
Awlaki, like other senior al Qaeda leaders, has praised Shabaab in his propaganda messages. In December 2008, Awlaki called on Muslims to financially support Shabaab and prayed for the group's success inside Somalia. While cheering on Shabaab's efforts to implement Sharia law, Awlaki also advised the group to be patient with Muslims who "are suffering from the illnesses of tribalism, ignorance, and a campaign of defamation of sharia."
"Therefore you need to win the hearts and minds of the people and take them back to their fitrah [natural predisposition]," Awlaki cautioned, according to a translation provided by the NEFA Foundation.
In a January 2010 interview, Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamoud Rage explained that his group had received fighters from Yemen and that Shabaab would return the favor. "We have received fighters from the Arabian Peninsula...I mean in Yemen to bolster our fighters on the ground, and there is no [sic] any other alternative for us to do, but to do as the saying goes One Good Turn Deserves Another," Rage said.
Sheikh Rage's synopsis of Shabaab's ties to its Yemeni jihadist brethren was borne out in December 2010 when 13 foreign fighters were killed during a gunfight with Somali government forces in Mogadishu. The dead fighters included a Yemeni al Qaeda commander named Rajah Abu Khalid. [See LWJ report, Yemeni al Qaeda commander reported killed in Mogadishu clash.]
American officials have repeatedly expressed concern over the growing indications of collaboration between the two groups. In November 2010, NPR cited government officials who were worried about the "markedly increased" coordination between AQAP and Shabaab. "They have been sharing personnel, ammunition and training in a way they had not before," NPR reported.
The Obama administration highlighted Shabaab's "growing transregional ties" in its National Strategy for Counterterrorism, which was released in June.