Fighters from Shabaab’s Jaysh Ayman walking to the ambush point in Lamu County, Kenya
A newly released video by al Qaeda’s branch in East Africa, Shabaab, showcases two separate ambushes of Kenyan troops in Lamu County, Kenya. It is unclear when the ambushes took place, however, the jihadist group has perpetrated several attacks in the region recently. The jihadist group also calls for attacks on Israel and Jews in Palestine in the last few minutes of the propaganda.
The video begins with a quote from Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the founder of al Qaeda in Iraq, the predecessor to the Islamic State. The statement is meant to provide justification for “killing non-believers” as the video is focused on this subject. “Every disbeliever therefore, who does not enter a peace accord with Muslims either through dhima, a ceasefire, or a covenant of protection, is considered a hostile disbeliever possessing absolutely no protection with the exception of those whom the Shari’ah has prohibited killing such as women and children,” Zarqawi states.
The video then shows the Shabaab fighters crossing into Lamu County and talking with residents of a nearby village. A jihadist is shown asking a resident “Are there any kuffar [apostates] in this place?” before being assured by the civilian that “only Muslims live here.” Another jihadist then makes a speech to the village warning them against “allying with the kuffar.”
“Keep in mind that allying with them is a form of disbelief,” he says. “We are in need to take up arms and fight them. Know that the Kuffar are terrified when they hear that the Muslims have taken up weapons.”
After the speech, the video shifts gears to show the preparation of the ambushes while an audio recording plays in the background of the American-born Anwar al Awlaki, who was a senior official in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula before his death. The first ambush shows an attack on at least two troop transport vehicles, while the second depicts an attack on Kenyan police. At least four police vehicles are shown to have been destroyed or damaged in the fighting.
The end of the video features clips of recent Palestinian attacks on Jews in Israel and Palestine, while audio statements from three prominent al Qaeda leaders – Osama bin Laden, Abu Laith al Libi, as well as bin Laden’s mentor Abdullah Azzam – play in the background to incite attacks on Israelis.
Shabaab does not specify when the ambushes took place, however, it has conducted several attacks in Lamu County. This includes an attack earlier this month when a convoy from the General Service Unit, a paramilitary branch of the Kenyan police, was hit with improvised explosive devices (IED’s) leaving at least one dead. On Dec. 25, 2015, Shabaab targeted two police vehicles in Lamu, killing one police officer.
Additional attacks in Lamu include an ambush on Kenyan Defense Force (KDF) soldiers on June 14, 2015. That attack was conducted by Shabaab’s specialized fighting force, Jaysh Ayman, which is responsible for carrying out attacks in Kenya. An American member of Jaysh Ayman, Maalik Alim Jones, was recently charged for supporting Shabaab and his role in several attacks in Kenya. [See LWJ report, American charged with supporting Shabaab, serving in ‘specialized fighting force’]
Lamu County was also the scene of a Shabaab attack in mid-2014 when the jihadists targeted police stations, hotels, and a restaruant in the town of Mpeketoni. At least 40 people are believed to have been killed in these attacks.
The jihadist group has also attacked elsewhere in Kenya, including an attack on Dec. 27 in Mandera County. In an ambush on a Kenyan security vehicle, four police officers were killed and their weapons were stolen, according to Shabaab. In late November, Shabaab claimed an ambush on KDF troops and to have temporarily taken control of a town in Garissa County.
The main university in the region, Garissa University, was the scene of a brutal massacre perpetrated by Shabaab in early 2015. The jihadists stormed the university and killed 148 people and wounded many more. A spokesman for Shabaab said the gunmen deliberately separated Muslims from non-Muslims during the attack. [See LWJ report, Shabaab massacres dozens in attack on Kenyan university.]
Screenshots from the video: