American al Qaeda operative distributes aid at Somali relief camp
Al Qaeda "representative" Abu Abdullah al Muhajir [left]; and Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage, Shabaab's top spokesman. Image from Reuters.
An al Qaeda "representative" who is said to be an American recently distributed aid to a group of Somalis at a relief camp just south of the capital of Mogadishu.
The al Qaeda representative was identified as Abu Abdullah al Muhajir. Shabaab released an audiotape and a written statement promoting Muhajir's activities. On his audiotape, which was provided by the SITE Intelligence Group, he spoke with a clear American accent. Muhajir is photographed with his face covered, along with Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage, Shabaab's top spokesman, at the al Yassir camp, which is about 30 miles southwest of Mogadishu.
Muhajir "distributed relief packages that came from al-Qaeda Organization to help those who were in need as a result of the drought in Somalia," according to the SITE translation of Shabaab's statement accompanying his audiotape. He is said to have handed out food, clothing, and Korans to Somalis. Muhajir said he was distributing the aid on behalf of Ayman al Zawahiri, al Qaeda's new emir.
In his statement, Muhajir praised slain al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and claimed he had always sought to aid Muslims in need.
"Sheikh Osama was always deeply concerned about the plight of the Muslim Ummah all over the world, including the situations in Palestine, Iraq, Kashmir and Afghanistan, to name a few of the places. Having actively participated in assisting various parts of the Ummah with everything that he had [unclear] through the years, the Sheikh also focused his attention specifically on the hardships and tests that have afflicted the Muslim Somali people for the past decade," Muhajir said.
Muhajir also praised bin Laden for waging jihad in Somalia for three decades. He alludes to the infamous two-day-long First Battle of Mogadishu, in which 18 US soldiers and hundreds of Somalis were killed. Al Qaeda claims to have trained the local Somali militia and participated in the fighting and the shoot-down of a US Army Black Hawk helicopter.
"He, as the leader of al Qaeda Organization, played a major role in repelling the invading forces of the Muslim land of Somalia from the American invasion during the early 90s to the recent invasion by the Ethiopians, as well as the current AMISOM [African Union Mission in Somalia] invasion," he stated.
Muhajir is one of dozens of Americans who have gone to Somalia to fight the government and African Union forces. Several have carried out suicide attacks. The most infamous is Omar Hammami, also known as Abu Mansoor al Amriki, who serves as a Shabaab military commander and propagandist. In July, the US added him to the list of specially designated global terrorists.
Hammami has appeared on multiple propaganda tapes for Shabaab. In May, he spoke at a public rally with other top Shabaab leaders to eulogize Osama bin Laden just 10 days after the death of the al Qaeda leader. During the rally, Hammani appeared with other top al Qaeda-linked Shabaab leaders, including Sheikh Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansour and Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys. Hammami and the other top Shabaab leaders were seen sitting in the open for hours, unafraid of being targeted by Somali or African Union forces.
"We are all Osama," Hammami told the crowd as he spoke at a podium. He also said that Shabaab and al Qaeda would continue their jihad to establish a global Islamic caliphate.
"Today, we remind the Muslims that the caliphate [Islamic rule] shall soon be reborn," Hammani said. "May Allah accept our dear beloved sheikh [Osama bin Laden] and cause our swords to become instruments of his avenging."
For more information on Shabaab's links to al Qaeda, see LWJ report, Somalia's Shabaab vows allegiance to new al Qaeda emir Zawahiri.