Shabaab claimed that an American citizen was one of two suicide bombers who were part of an assault team that attacked an African Union base in Mogadishu yesterday.
On Oct. 29, two suicide bombers “disguised as Somali Army troops,” according to an African Union press release, along with an estimated 10 heavily armed fighters attacked the Ugandan and Somali troops based at the German Steel Factory in northern Mogadishu.
The result of the Shabaab attack is unclear. The African Union maintained that the attack “failed” and “the suicide bombers blew themselves” up before reaching their targets. “The extremists were unable to take control of the AMISOM position,” the press release stated.
But witnesses in Mogadishu said several African Union and Somali troops were killed during the fighting. Shabaab claimed that it overran the base and killed 80 Ugandan troops, including the base commander.
“The Mujahideen have today stormed an AMISOM compound, killing 80 Ugandan soldiers,” Shabaab said in a statement released in English on the pro-Shabaab website Somali Memo. “In a fierce battle that lasted over two hours, the Mujahideen have yet again dealt another fatal blow to the African Crusaders. Two martyrdom seekers infiltrated the AMISOM compound – the former metal factory – situated along the Industrial Road, near Mogadishu Stadium, and where divisions of the Ugandan soldiers and TFG militia were based, successfully killing the commander as he addressed the Ugandan forces along with several other soldiers.”
Echoing the rhetoric of al Qaeda, Shabaab said that it will continue to wage jihad and “will sacrifice everything in the attainment of a global Islamic Caliphate.”
Shabaab also released audiotapes at Somali Memo of the two suicide bombers, who were identified as Cabdi Salaam al Muhajir and Aden al Ansari. Al Muhajir is described as an American citizen, and he delivers his speech in English.
On his tape, al Muhajir urges Muslims not to “just sit around and be a couch potato and
just chill all day,” but to “put your trust in Allah, come to the land of jihad where your Muslim sisters and brothers are.”
“My brothers and sisters, do jihad in America, do jihad in Canada, do jihad in England [and] anywhere in Europe, in Asia, in Africa, in China, in Australia – anywhere you find kuffar [infidels]. Fight them and be firm against them,” al Mujahir said, according to a transcript of the statement which was provided by the SITE Intelligence Group.
The Oct. 29 suicide attack is the third of its kind in Mogadishu this month. On Oct. 4, a suicide bomber detonated a car bomb outside a building where scholarships were being awarded by the Turkish government to Somali students. More than 100 Somalis, mostly students and their families, were killed in the massive blast. And on Oct. 17, a suicide bomber killed 15 people in an attack near the old foreign ministry building in the Somali capital.
Shabaab has stepped up terror attacks in the capital since its forces withdrew from most of its bases in Mogadishu at the end of the summer. Shabaab also has claimed it killed more than 100 Burundian soldiers in an ambush in the Daynile suburb of Mogadishu on Oct. 20. The African Union contested the claim, saying that photographs of the dead soldiers were faked by Shabaab and denying that large numbers of AU troops were killed during the clash.
While Shabaab is fighting African Union and Somali troops in the capital, the Kenyan military is moving forces toward the port city of Kismayo, Shabaab’s de facto capital, and the town of Afmadow. The Kenyan government invaded southern Somalia in mid-October and vowed to drive Shabaab from bases along the border. A Kenyan Army spokesman said that his country’s forces would take control of Kismayo and would remain in the south until Shabaab was no longer a threat.
Americans join Shabaab in Somalia
Although al Muhajir’s identity as an American citizen has not been confirmed, Shabaab has used Americans to carry out suicide attacks twice in the past, according to J.M. Berger, the editor of Intelwire. In October 2008, a Somali man from Minneapolis named Shirwa Ahmed was one of five suicide bombers who attacked four compounds in the semi-autonomous regions of Somaliland and Puntland, killing 28 and wounding scores more. Three suicide car bombers struck the presidential palace, the UN Development Program compound, and the Ethiopian Consulate in the city of Hargeisa in Somaliland; and two bombers targeted an intelligence facility in the city of Bosasso in Puntland.
And in May of this year, Mohamad Beledi, another American citizen, was one of two suicide bombers who attacked a base in Mogadishu, killing two African Union troops and a Somali soldier. Shabaab had identified Beledi as Abdullahi Ahmed.
Shabaab has also claimed that Americans have conducted other suicide attacks. An American from Seattle, who was not named, is said to have been one of two suicide bombers who penetrated the main base in Mogadishu in an attack in September 2009. The deputy military commander for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) was among the 21 people killed.
Americans are known to hold senior positions in Shabaab and al Qaeda’s network in Somalia. Scores of Americans are also known to serve as foot soldiers for Shabaab.
Omar Hammami, who is also known as Abu Mansoor al Amriki, serves as a military commander, propagandist, “recruitment strategist, and financial manager” for Shabaab, and is closely linked to al Qaeda, according to the US government.
Hammami 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.
“We are all Osama,” Hammami told the crowd as he spoke at a podium, according to a translation of the speech, a portion of which was published by National Post. He also said that Shabaab and al Qaeda would continue their jihad to establish a global Islamic caliphate.
And Abu Abdullah al Muhajir, an al Qaeda “representative” who is said to be an American citizen, recently distributed aid to a group of Somalis at a relief camp just south of the capital of Mogadishu. Muhajir said he was distributing the aid on behalf of Ayman al Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s new emir and praised slain al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. While Muhajir’s real identity is not known, he spoke with a clear American accent.