The media arm for Shabaab, al Qaeda’s branch in East Africa, has released a video of a graduation ceremony for foreign fighters who attended a training camp. Sheikh Ali Mahmoud Rage, a spokesman and senior figure in Shabaab, delivers a speech during the ceremony. He focuses mainly on Kenya, claiming that Christians oppress Muslims in that country and throughout East Africa.
Rage says that “many” of the camp’s graduates come from Kenya. “You have to be the army that will conquer Kenya so that we may return to our families and relatives in a state of honor and glory, and uplift them from the humiliation, by the permission of Allah, the Exalted,” Rage says.
Kenyan forces have long battled Shabaab’s jihadists inside Somalia. Shabaab, in turn, has launched spectacular terrorist attacks inside Kenya, including the June 2014 raid in Mpeketoni, during which dozens were slaughtered, and the Apr. 2015 massacre at Garissa University College, which left more than 140 people dead and dozens more wounded. Shabaab has struck elsewhere throughout Kenya as well. Many of the operations, including the attack in Mpeketoni, were carried out by the group’s Jaysh Ayman, a commando unit that specializes in cross-border raids. [See FDD’s Long War Journal report: American charged with supporting Shabaab, serving in ‘specialized fighting force’.]
In Jan. 2016, Shabaab overran an AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia) base in the Somali town of El Adde, killing approximately 150 Kenyan soldiers. The UN later described the operation as “the largest military defeat in Kenyan history.” The UN also found that 11 Kenyan soldiers were taken hostage. On May 18, Shabaab released a video featuring one of them. The hostage, Alfred Danyi Kilasi, was made to plea for his life and ask the Kenyan people to force their government to take action. Shabaab did not specify what it wanted from the Kenyan government, if anything, in return for the hostages. But the al Qaeda group is all too happy to remind people of its success in El Adde.
In the new video, Rage ties the jihadists’ war with Kenya to the training camp’s mission.
He thanks the “Muhajireen brothers who have endured the hardships of Hijra [emigration] and were patient during the training camps.” They “endured the intense training sessions” and “exerted a great effort to learn the different ways of combating the enemies of Allah.”
“You, my dear brothers, have made Hijra from faraway lands and have completed intense training courses and have endured great hardships,” Rage continues. “Know that your trainers and the Mujahideen have a noble objective behind all the hardships that you have endured.”
Rage spells out the “main objectives” for the jihadists now that they’ve completed their training. “You are well aware of the situation of the Muslim Ummah in general, and particularly, the Muslims of East Africa, and the humiliation and suffering they are faced with,” Rage says. “Therefore, what is needed from you…is to uplift the humiliation from the Muslims and repel the oppression of the disbelievers from the Muslims of East Africa, particularly the countries you’ve made Hijra from, including Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and even Somalia.”
He focuses on the Kenyan foreign fighters, in particular, saying the “Kenyan crusaders” have “occupied our Muslim lands” and “have transgressed against the honor of our Muslim sisters.”
“So it is upon you to protect with your weapons the honor and chastity of our Muslim sisters that is being violated by the disbelievers,” Rage says. “It is upon you to protect the Muslim women, children and elderly who continue to be mercilessly killed by the disbelievers, whether they are in Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania and even here in Somalia.”
Their ultimate mission is “to work towards the implementation of the Shari’ah of Allah so that it governs the entire world.”
“We have to eliminate all other systems of governance and laws of Kufr such as democracy, communism and secularism enforced upon us by the pagans and govern the land according to the Qur’an and Sunnah of the Prophet,” Rage argues. “We have to wage war until we either elevate the banner of Tawheed [monotheism] or meet Allah.” The jihadists will achieve either “victory or martyrdom” and they “should not be content with anything less than that.”
Inciting against Christians
Rage spends much of his speech inciting against Christians in Kenya, claiming they have forcibly replaced Muslims in a number of areas.
“We know and the Kenyan crusaders also know the oppression and immense atrocities they have perpetrated against the Muslims who live under the occupations of the Christians,” Rage says.
He goes on to claim that the coastal town of Mpeketoni “used to be a Muslim land,” but the “Kuffar [nonbelievers] then transferred the Christians and settled them in Muslim lands, forcefully occupying the land.” Today, Rage adds, the town is home to one “hundred churches and perhaps only one mosque,” because “the land is occupied” and “the disbelievers erected churches in the place of mosques.” Shabaab attempted to justify its June 2014 attack in Mpeketoni with the same argument, claiming that the Kenyan military was occupying Muslim lands.
Rage claims the disbelievers “burned down the town of Garissa and killed many Muslims simply for being Muslims” in 1980. “In addition to that, they carried out a mass massacre of Muslims in Wagalla.” He adds that “they’ve built churches at the entrance of Mombasa, a historically Muslim city, giving the perception that it is a Christian dominated city.” And the call to prayer “has been replaced by the chiming of the church bells” elsewhere.
The Shabaab spokesman says the prisons in Kenya “are filled with Muslims – many Muslim youth who’ve been detained without due court process and left to linger in the prisons without mercy.” According to Rage, the “disbelievers” have also “occupied Muslim lands,” “invaded” parts of Somalia where “they still have a military presence,” and “mercilessly bombed the Muslim lands of Somalia.”
The video of Rage’s talk was produced by Shabaab’s Al-Kataib Foundation for Media. It is part 1 of the production and includes English subtitles.
Shabaab is locked in a long battle with the Kenyans and its propaganda will undoubtedly continue to focus on the Kenyan government in the coming months.
Images from Shabaab’s video (“Muhajireen’s Graduation Ceremony Address”):