Shabaab released a two-page statement saying the Jan. 15 attack at a hotel in Nairobi was conducted in accordance with Ayman al Zawahiri’s “guidelines.” The al Qaeda arm has other reasons for striking inside Kenya as well, including the government’s role in the guerrilla war in Somalia.
The State Department has amended the terrorist designation of Shabaab, al Qaeda’s branch in East Africa, to include Al-Hijra, which has served as Shabaab’s “wing” in Kenya. In the past, according to the UN, Al-Hijra has played a key role in Shabaab’s planning of terrorist attacks.
The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) says that 12 Ugandan soldiers were killed in an ambush by Shabaab yesterday. The al Qaeda branch claims the casualties were much higher and a local official told the press that 24 bodies were carried away from the scene.
Shabaab, al Qaeda’s branch in Somalia, released a nearly hour-long video celebrating al Qaeda’s legacy and promoting its war as part of the global jihad. The group also advertised its “Mohamed Atta Training Camp for Martyrdom Seekers.”
Shabaab’s leadership has actively opposed the Islamic State’s expansion in East Africa. The Islamic State has made a major push via propaganda videos to encourage defections, but only a small cadre of Shabaab fighters has switched allegiance to the “caliphate” thus far.