The Islamic State’s Amaq News Agency released a video earlier today that allegedly provides visual evidence of its fight with Shabaab on Dec. 16.
Two days ago, the Islamic State reported its men in Somalia had clashed with Shabaab, al Qaeda’s branch in the country, in the northern region of Puntland. According to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s men, 14 members of Shabaab were killed in the battle.
Amaq’s video shows the Islamic State ambushing fighters in what appears to have been a small skirmish. The self-declared caliphate’s footage doesn’t confirm its claimed casualty count, but it does appear to show an exchange of fire with its jihadist rivals.
Today’s video shows only four dead bodies of men who are presumably Shabaab fighters. At least eight Kalashnikov rifles are displayed, however, hinting that the Islamic State’s men did kill at least eight militants. Screenshots of the bodies are too graphic to be republished by FDD’s Long War Journal.
The clash on Dec. 16 was the first time the Islamic State officially claimed an attack on al Qaeda’s men in Somalia, despite earlier exchanges between the two. Moreover, today’s video is the first time one of these clashes has ever been recorded and released to the world.
At the height of the infighting between Shabaab and Islamic State-loyal cells in southern Somalia in 2015, neither side publicly commented on the matter. Later that year, when Shabaab and the official Islamic State faction in Puntland clashed, the two continued to be radio silent on the event. Indeed, Shabaab has still not commented on Sunday’s battle.
Despite its rivalry with Shabaab, the Islamic State in Somalia is unlikely to unseat the al Qaeda group as Somalia’s top jihadist threat. The Islamic State in Somalia does not operate a full-scale insurgency like Shabaab and its forces are far outnumbered by the al Qaeda branch’s men.
Screenshots from the Islamic State’s video from Somalia: