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Kenya is coming for al Shabaab!

Interesting Article: Kenya: Army in for 'Mother of All Battles' by ABDULKADIR KHALIF / Mogadishu published Monday, October 17, 2011
A recent article highlighted that Kenyan forces are likely to see action in a major battle in the Somali town of Afmadow, 620 kilometers south of Mogadishu, in the coming days. Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) soldiers, together with allied combatants from Ras Kamboni Brigade and units of the Kenyan military were headed there to fight the Al Shabaab (see my blog post that speaks more about this organization-blog post: What Terrorists can gain from Piracy!).


According to the article, Al Shabaab spokesman threatened to launch terror attacks in Kenyan cities if Nairobi does not withdraw its troops. Al Shabaab fighters were on Monday said to be boosting defenses and sending "hundreds" of fighters towards Kenyan and TFG positions. Kenya has been under growing pressure to take action and attempt to restore confidence that it could safely host tourists and one of the world’s largest aid communities. The troop movements have heightened tension in the area with villagers and pastoralists in the affected district fearing battles between the coalition forces and the fighters of al Shabaab. As mentioned previously in other blog posts, al Shabaab has been gaining momentum in the last couple of months. The most recent being on October 4 when a truck carrying explosive was driven into a government ministry killing 139 and injuring 93. What is interesting is that an ideological split reportedly emerges within Al-Shabaab's leadership. Muktar Ali Robow, Sheikh Hassan Dahir and other southern commanders who hail from the areas of the country worst-hit by the effects of the drought, reportedly want to extend relief efforts to the impacted peoples. However, they are overruled by Ahmed Abdi Godane, a northern commander credited with strengthening the group's ties with Al-Qaeda. In 2009, Al-Shabaab witnessed a number of its fighters, including several leaders, defect to Somalia's Transitional Federal Government. One such high profile defection was that in early November 2009 of Sheikh Mohamed Abdullahi (also known as "Sheikh Bakistani"), who commanded the Maymana Brigade. Sheikh Bakistani told Voice of America (VOA) Somali Services that he found the group's suicide missions and executions unbearable. He also indicated that his father, a well-known local religious leader, had visited him several times and helped convince him to defect. However, a spokesman for Al-Shabaab denied that Sheikh Bakistani was a member of the group. During the same month, in an interview with Agence France-Presse (AFP) in Villa Somalia arranged by the Somali federal government, one former Al-Shabaab fighter reported being disillusioned with the group's direction, indicating that while he began fighting in 2006 "to kick out the Ethiopian invaders", he defected a month ago, "disgusted by the false interpretations Al-Shabaab give of Islam". Similarly, a former Hizbul Islam commander recently defected to the Somali government; one of his family members (another Hizbul Islam commander) had been murdered by Al-Shabaab militants as punishment for having escorted a UN convoy. He said in the VOA interview that "if you don't want to fight anymore, there's no point. That's why I quit". An internal rift has appeared, and it is important to take the opportunity now to play to those that are walking away from the al Qaeda mentality and want a more moderate state of affairs. With this upcoming battle, could we possibly see the defeat of al Shabaab as an al Qaeda-esque organization? I would hope so. 

References:
"Somalia 'suicide' car bomb kills dozens in Mogadishu". BBC. October 04, 2011.
"Somali Government Displays Defecting Al-Shabaab Commander". .voanews.com. 2009-11-09.
"If you don't want to fight anymore, there's no point". Mg.co.za. Retrieved 2010-03-17.
"Senior Al-Shabab Commander Defects to Govt". Allafrica.com. 2009-12-02.


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