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The Horn of Africa is now hosting a rather unpleasant guest: a new ISIS affiliate. Jahba East Africa distinguishes itself from al-Shabaab by vowing to not follow or keep itself within the “prison” of al-Qaeda. Its fighters, the organisation claims, are ready and willing to sow terror to achieve its goals
Within al-Shabaab, the main terror group in war-torn Somalia, there has been tension and dissension regarding the question of whether to remain under the umbrella of the more veteran al-Qaeda, or whether to follow the lead of Boko Haram and join forces with ISIS.
Pledging allegiance to ISIS would greatly enlarge al-Shabaab’s geographical reach beyond somalia and would expand its ideological aims beyond al-Shabaab’s current focus of establishing a Sharia state in Somalia.
The reasons for the split may be more practical than declared, however, as al-Shabaab is not faring well in Somalia. Allied African forces have managed to drive the organisation out of cities and population centres into rural areas, where it is less effective.
Jahba East Africa has pledged allegiance to Bakr al-Baghdadi, ISIS’ leader, declaring him to be the “rightful Khalifa [caliph] of all Muslims.”
“We pledge our obedience to him in times of ease and hardship, and Allah is witness to our pledge.”
Jahba East Africa’s statement goes on to call on fighters from al-Shabaab and other groups to join forces with them.
“Sadly, Al-Shabaab has forgotten the resolve needed to work for the establishment of the rule of Allah,” they said. “Many Kenyans, Tanzanians and Ugandan Mujahideen have been accused without evidence of working against Islam and the Mujahideen. Many have been detained for accepting the declaration of the Khalifah [caliphate].”
The group called out to followers on social media: “All Mujahideen must accept the Khalifah,” they tweeted.