Shabaab calls on al Qaeda to ‘expand the East Africa jihad’


Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage.

Shabaab, al Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia, has called for the global terror group to send more fighters to “expand the East Africa jihad.”

Shabaab’s top spokesman, Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage, who is also known as Ali Dheere, issued a call for al Qaeda fighters to come to Somalia. Rage made the statement during a joint press conference held in Mogadishu on Friday with Sheikh Abdifatah Mohamed Ali, Hizbul Islam’s spokesman.

“We call on our brothers [Al Qaeda] to come to Somalia and to help us expand the East Africa jihad,” Rage told reporters, according to Garowe Online.

Rage and Ali held the press conference to formally announce Hizbul Islam’s merger with Shabaab. On Dec. 19, Hizbul Islam’s top leader, Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, announced he had joined forces with Shabaab after his forces lost control over much of their traditional strongholds south of Mogadishu during a Shabaab onslaught and the subsequent defection of local Hizbul Islam leaders.

On Dec. 23, Rage also held a press conference to “inform our brothers in Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria and Uganda” of the Shabaab/Hizbul Islam merger, and he threatened the eastern African nations of Uganda and Burundi, which make up the African Union forces fighting in Mogadishu.

“We, al Shabaab and Hizbul Islam have united and we warn Uganda and Burundi forces and their people that we shall redouble our attacks,” Rage said, according to Reuters. “We also inform our brothers in Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria and Uganda, that we have united in one name — al Shabaab.”

Rage’s call for a wider jihad in East Africa echoed Aweys’s call back in 2006 for the creation of a “greater Somalia” in the Horn of Africa.

Shabaab’s takeover of Hizbul Islam puts an end to more than two years of fighting between the two terror groups. Both groups have vowed to wage jihad in eastern Africa and have sought al Qaeda’s support. The merger has freed up fighters and resources to battle the weak Somali government and African Union forces struggling to retake control of Mogadishu. Fighters formerly loyal to Hizbul Islam have poured into Mogadishu to swell the ranks of Shabaab.

For more on Shabaab’s links to al Qaeda and the takeover of Hizbul Islam, see LWJ report, Hizbul Islam joins Shabaab in Somalia.

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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  • dmouse says:

    Almost need a score card just to keep up on the players there.

  • James says:

    What is happening in Somalia is a serious threat to US interests. I don’t understand why we seem so disengaged. This is a situation that begs for Special Forces on the ground and drones in the air. If we do have a presence there it so far has been unhelpful and unsuccessful. People are dying, women are being raped, children are homeless and hungry. We should be hunting the perpetrators night and day.

  • John N Florida says:

    @ James; Just where do you think all of these US troops are going to come from? Many of these kids have already served multiple tours in Afghanistan or Iraq.
    Those are 13 month tours. By contrast, my Uncle landed in France on D+1. He served until the end of the war, 11 months later.
    The average Marine in the Pacific served in no more than 3 Island campaigns. The longest of these was Guadalcanal which lasted about 7 months.
    We already have overwhelming problems with PTSD. Many of these young people will NEVER be able to return to a normal civilian life.
    IF we are to continue the level of interference in world combat theaters as you subscribe, we need to triple the size of our ground combat forces immediately.
    The problem is, we’re more worried about cutting taxes (something never considered during WW II) than we are with the welfare of the kids at the pointy end of the stick.
    No soldier should be required to serve more than 1 combat tour in a 4 year enlistment. It’s not fair to the soldier OR their family.

  • ArneFufkin says:

    @John N: Your history seems a bit convoluted and colored by pacifist ideology.
    Are you arguing that American military engagement in the European Theater during WWII began with D-Day or that Pacific Theater Island Hopping didn’t entail long sail times and staging duty?

  • ArneFufkin says:

    @John N Florida: Here’s something I found online that sheds a little light into the “points system” the War Department used to determine when deployed personnel came home during and after WWII:

    Advanced Service Rating Score

  • TLA says:

    More to the point really, with the world in a financial armageddon, why should, or how can, the U.S. continue to be Sugar Daddy to every tinpoy regime that won’t help themselves (read the whole of Africa).
    Saying which, it would be even more fertile turf for al-Qaeda and Co.’s backers.
    Time for another Cold War (if we can find the means of getting ourselves off our oil fix).

  • James says:

    This isn’t a question of “all these U.S. troops” or of playing “Sugar Daddy.” It’s about who we are, and doing what is right. A unit of 150 -200 special forces charged with giving tactics, logistics, and air (drone) capability to the AU troops already there would effectively change everything in Somalia. Al-Shabaab relies on fear and terror. They will not stand and fight. If they are pushed out of Kismaayo and Baidoa, and denied any safe haven, or rest, in Mogadishu then Somalia has a chance to begin moving in a more positive direction for its people. Women and children who have suffered all these years while the world looks the other way deserve that chance. And they deserve our help.

  • ArneFufkin says:

    @James: It’s unfortunate but it is likely venal politics within the AU that is hindering our ability to influence events and support the good guys in Somalia with our Special Operators and enablers.
    I remember a Marine Colonel assigned to CENTCOM back in 2007 or so saying he could take a USMC Regiment into Mogadishu and establish law and order there quickly if he got the green light to do so – but that he didn’t anticipate such an authorization because it was an AU operation for what he intimated as sensitive political considerations.
    Africa is a disaster in countless political and socio-economic ways and it is illustrative that we haven’t yet found a friendly continental host country yet for the Africa Command we instituted in 2007. We run AFRICOM out of Stuttgart, Germany. It’s maddening but that’s the zany, destructive world of Geopolitics I guess.

  • blert says:

    The real problem is permitting, nay encouraging, immigration from Somalia.
    It’s too risky.
    They are the crowd that the islamists will use to attack America.
    We are already seeing white non-muslim converts jumping straight into jihad. They’re a handful.
    Alienated immigrants are even worse. They will attack in groups.

  • J-dub says:

    I can tell you from 1st hand experience that unfortunately it isn’t the AU, UN, or anyone else but our complacent and risk averse government keeping us from doing anything in Somalia. Somalia is Afghanistan about 14-15 years ago. You have an organic radical islamic group (just like the Taliban) with both historic and developing ties to al-Qa’ida who serve as the governing and taxing body of a country. We have no strategic interests there, just as we had none in Afghanistan. We are watching, doing nothing, and continuing to come up with excuses for inaction just like we did in Afghanistan. We even have some of the same leadership in place making the same excuses for inaction that did the same with Afghanistan – read the 9/11 Commission Report and see what Richard Clarke had to say, and how inept and complacent Deputy Steinburg was during 97-2000 timeframe. You now have Steinburg using the same excuses to do nothing in Somalia….amzing how we never remember our own history.


Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram