Sheikh Abu Mukhtar Robow

Sheikh Abu Mukhtar Robow (left) and Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan (face covered) in a propaganda video acquired by The Long War Journal.

Sheikh Abu Mukhtar Robow, who is also known as Abu Mansur, is the most visible member of Al Shabaab, the Somali terrorist group with close links to al Qaeda. The US Treasury department designated Robow as an international terrorist in November 2008.

Robow is a senior military commander and also served as the group’s spokesman. He frequently appears in Arabic and Somali-language propaganda videos posted on the Internet, often visiting training camps alongside senior al Qaeda operative Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, who is wanted for the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

Robow admitted Shabaab is closely aligned to al Qaeda, and seeks to merge with the terror group. “We are negotiating how we can unite into one,” Robow said in interview with The Los Angeles Times in 2008. “We will take our orders from Sheik Osama bin Laden because we are his students. Al Qaeda is the mother of the holy war in Somalia.”

Robow is believed to be in his 40s and hails from the Rahanwein clan native to Baidoa in central Somalia. In the 1990s he worked in Mogadishu for the Al Haramein Saudi foundation, which served as a conduit for al Qaeda, and later trained and fought with al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Robow frequently connects with hardcore supporters in the Somali Diaspora through weekly Paltalk forums. In September 2008 he told a forum that the establishment of the “Islamic Emirate of Somalia” would be “imminent.”

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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