Islamic State leader Abdiqadir Mumin shown in a video promoting the “Commander Sheikh Abu Numan training camp.”
The Islamic State touted a small training camp and announced its first attack in Somalia as part of the its push establish a presence in the country. Islamic State followers in Somalia have been ruthlessly pursued by Shabaab, al Qaeda’s official branch in East Africa, thwarting their attempt to gain traction in Somalia.
The Islamic State released a video on April 14 of the “Commander Sheikh Abu Numan training camp,” which is likely located in the Puntland region in northwestern Somalia. The video, which was produced by the Islamic State’s Al Furat Media, featured former Shabaab commander Abdiqadir Mumin, who is known to be based in Puntland.
The video depicted just over a dozen fighters training in the camp, which is named after Bashir Abu Numan, a former commander who was killed by Shabaab’s Amniyat – the rival group’s internal security and intelligence branch – after he defected to the Islamic State in late 2015.
The Commander Sheikh Abu Numan camp does not appear to be a permanent facility. The fighters were shown undertaking physical and weapons exercises before listening to a speech from Abdiqadir Mumin, who likely holds a senior leadership position within the Islamic State’s fledgling branch in Somalia.
Mumin blessed the camp as the “first camp of the Caliphate in Somalia” before he and the fighters shown in the video renew their pledge of allegiance to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. Mumin originally defected to the Islamic State late last year with just 20 of the 300 jihadists based in the Galgala hills of Puntland. The other jihadists are said to have remained loyal to Shabaab. [See LWJ report, Shabaab’s leadership fights Islamic State’s attempted expansion in East Africa.]
In addition to promoting its camp, the Islamic State claimed its first attack inside Somalia. In a statement released on social media accounts today, the Islamic State claimed it detonated an IED against a “a Military Vehicle of the African Crusader Forces in Mogadishu,” according to the SITE Intelligence Group.
The Islamic State has struggled to gain a foothold in Somalia despite a concerted effort to woo Shabaab fighters into its ranks. Shabaab’s Amniyat has been tasked with hunting down and killing any members who seek to or have defected to the Islamic State. Last December, the Amniyat gunned down Mohammed Makkawi Ibrahim, a veteran jihadist who was responsible for killing a diplomat for the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and his driver in Khartoum, Sudan in January 2008. [See LWJ report, American jihadist reportedly flees al Qaeda’s crackdown in Somalia.]
Screenshots from the video: