Harakat al-Shabab says Somali-American Killed in Brazen Assault on AMISOM Base in Mogadishu Today

-Christopher Anzalone (Institute of Islamic Studies, McGill University)

Harakat al-Shabab al-Mujahideen’s Radio Al-Andalus aired what is reportedly two audio segments, in Somali and English, of an interview with “the martyr” (al-shahid) ‘Abdi Salaam (‘Abdi Salaan), one of the insurgents killed in a brazen attack on an African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) military base near Mogadishu’s sports stadium today.  The name of the Somali-American that insurgents claim carried out a “self-martyrdom” (istishhadi) operationas part of the attack was earlier given by insurgent-connected sources as “Asadullah al-Amriki,” meaning the “American Lion of God.” One of the suspects wanted by the FBI on allegations of providing material support to Harakat al-Shabab is ‘Abdi Salaan Hussein ‘Ali.

In the audio message, the young man argues that military jihad as defined by Harakat al-Shabab has become an individual obligation (fard ‘ayn) as opposed to a communal obligation (fard kifaya) in today’s world.  He urges Muslims in every country, whether it be “America, Canada, China, Australia,” to wage this type of “jihad” since, he says, “the Ummah [worldwide Muslim community] is waiting for us….Our goal is to die as Muslims and help the other Muslim brothers and sisters in the world, help the Ummah, and establish khilafa [the caliphate] soon…”  He urges his listeners to come to Somalia “soon.”

In a statement, Harakat al-Shabab claims to have killed 80 Ugandan soldiers in this attack, though these numbers have not been verified.  AMISOM sources say that at least 10 people were killed in a heavy battle between insurgents disguised as soldiers of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and AMISOM forces.  Two suicide bombers reportedly detonated their explosive vests near the gate while other insurgents stormed the base, though details remain contested and reports are confused as to what actually happened.  This latest attack, together with heavy casualties AMISOM reportedly suffered earlier this past week in fighting in the district of Daynile in Mogadishu, clearly show that Harakat al-Shabab remains capable of carrying out operations inside the capital city, even in districts supposedly “secured” by AMISOM and the TFG. AMISOM says it only suffered 10 dead in the Daynile fighting, though eyewitness accounts and new reporting from inside Burundi suggest that its casualties were much higher.

More details will likely emerge in the coming days about the Somali-American, as they did in June with the last Somali-American would-be suicide bomber killed fighting for Harakat al-Shabab, Farah Mohamed Beledi.

IN PICTURES: Harakat al-Shabab Leaders Host Rally against Kenya’s Incursion

-Christopher Anzalone (Institute of Islamic Studies, McGill University)


Approximately, “Somalia, Graveyard of the Crusaders”


Hasan Dahir Aweys, a senior Harakat al-Shabab leader


\Mukhtar “Abu Mansuur” Robow, a senior Harakat al-Shabab leader from the Rahanweyn clan

*Sourced from insurgent media

Al-Qa’ida Representative Delivers Humanitarian Aid to Harakat al-Shabab Refugee Camp in Lower Shabelle

-Christopher Anzalone (Institute of Islamic Studies, McGill University)


Harakat al-Shabab’s chief spokesman, ‘Ali Mahamoud Rage (left), with the alleged “Al-Qa’ida” representative Abu ‘Abdullah al-Muahjir

Yesterday, at a carefully choreographed media event, the Somali Islamist-insurgent movement Harakat al-Shabab al-Mujahideen (Movement of the Warrior-Youth, “Al-Shabaab,” Xarada Mujaahidiinta Al-Shabaab) welcomed in a significant amount of humanitarian aid for victims of the severe drought afflicting the country and the Horn of Africa at large.  The aid was delivered by a young man, “Abu ‘Abdullah al-Muhajir” (The Emigrant), who claimed to represent the “Al-Qa’ida organization (Tanzim Qa’idat al-Jihad, literally “the Jihad base organization”), to the Al-Yasir refugee camp in the region of Lower Shabelle, immediately to the south of the capital city of Mogadishu.  Al-Yasir has become Harakat al-Shabab’s flagship refugee relief center, the place at which it stages much of its aid distribution, much of which is carefully recorded by the insurgent’s own media office or by sympathetic or affiliated media outlets.

‘Ali Mahamoud Rage & Abu ‘Abdullah al-Muhajir

In an official press statement issued today by Harakat Al-Shabab’s Al-Kata’ib (The Brigades) Media Foundation, the aid delivered to Al-Yasir by Abu ‘Abdullah al-Muhajir included rice, dates, cooking oil, 4,000 packets of powdered milk, medicines, and 1,500 copies of the Qur’an and 1,500 books of du’a (prayers of supplication to God) for teaching and religious purposes, and $17,000 in local currency.  The relief mission was dubbed the “Charitable Campaign of the Martyr Bin Laden for the Relief of Those Affected by the Drought” and professionally-printed banners announced that “Tanzim al-Qa’ida” was the donor.

Abu ‘Abdullah al-Muhajir was accompanied by Harakat al-Shabab’s chief spokesman, ‘Ali Mahamoud Rage, who is also known as ‘Ali Dheere.  Al-Muhajir extolled the life and career of Usama bin Laden, who he said had sacrificed his wealth and ultimately his life for “the Muslims” in the “path of jihad.”  Rage praised the donation and said that it was accepted because of the “shared monotheism” of Harakat al-Shabab and Al-Qa’ida Central (AQC).  Al-Muhajir urged Muslims outside of Somalia to donate aid to assist Somalis suffering from the worst famine to hit the Horn of Africa in 60 years.

Harakat al-Shabab’s affinity for Bin Laden and other Al-Qa’ida ideologues is well known and not something that the movement’s leaders have attempted to hide.  However, yesterday’s delivery of aid by al-Muhajir is the most public acknowledgment by the insurgents of the presence of alleged Al-Qa’ida operatives in Somalia.  Al-Muhajir seems to be a fluent English speaker, based on poor quality audio of his short speech at Al-Yasir.  He wore a kaffiyeh scarf over his face and nothing but his eyes were visible.  His voice, in my opinion based on the audio, is different from that of Omar “Abu Mansur al-Amriki” Hammami, the American Harakat al-Shabab member, though the two have similar lanky builds.  In a video produced by Harakat al-Shabab’s media office and released in the late summer of 2008, the late AQC East Africa operative Saleh ‘Ali Saleh al-Nabhani urged Muslims from outside Somalia, particularly those in Sudan and Yemen, to join insurgent ranks.

The exact meaning of this public unveiling of a continued AQC presence in Somalia is currently unclear.  It is telling that Harakat al-Shabab leaders have apparently decided to maintain a separate identity, despite talks of unity through belief in monotheism (Tawhid), from “AQ” in Somalia.  The relief delivery was, according to banners at Al-Yasir, “coordinated by Harakat al-Shabab” but from “AQ.”

“Qa’idat al-Jihad Organization: The Charitable Campaign of the Martyr (al-shahid) Bin Laden for Relief of Those Affected by the Drought, with the coordination of Harakat al-Shabab al-Mujahideen”

I discuss Al-Yasir camp and its place in Harakat al-Shabab’s media campaign and famine relief efforts in a forthcoming article on the insurgent movement, which should be published by the end of the month.  I will also be following this development in future posts here at Al-Wasat.  It remains to be seen, for example, if AQC itself will announce the aid delivery in its own statement.


*All photographs in this post were released by Harakat al-Shabab’s media office*

IN PICTURES: Some Harakat al-Shabab Leaders, a Photo Essay Sourced from Insurgent Media: Part 2

-Christopher Anzalone (McGill University)
Part 1 can be viewed HERE.


‘Abd al-Qaadir Mu’min, a prominent Harakat al-Shabab preacher and former resident of Britain, and Muhammad Hasan ‘Umar Abu ‘Abd al-Rahman, the insurgent movement’s governor of Banaadir, at a meeting between Harakat al-Shabab leaders and district leaders in Mogadishu this summer

Muhammad Abu ‘Abdullah, governor of Lower Shabelle

Spokesman ‘Ali Mahamoud Rage (‘Ali Dheere), second from right, at the graduation ceremony from Harakat al-Shabab’s ‘Abdullah ‘Azzam Military Academy in 2010

‘Ali Mahamoud Rage (third from left) and, possibly, Muhammad Abu ‘Abdullah, governor of Lower Shabelle (second from left) inside a Harakat al-Shabab court in Lower Shabelle

Hasan Dahir Aweys, a senior leader and the former leader of Hizbul Islam

Hasan Dahir Aweys (in white hat) visiting Harakat al-Shabab’s flagship drought relief center, the Al-Yasir camp in Lower Shabelle

Muhammad Hasan ‘Umar Abu ‘Abd al-Rahman, governor of Banaadir, at a conference following the killing of Usama bin Laden that was held in May in Afgooye

Muhammad Hasan ‘Umar Abu ‘Abd al-Rahman, governor of Banaadir, at a meeting between Harakat al-Shabab leaders and district leaders in Mogadishu this summer

Mukhtar “Abu Mansur” Robow, a popular leader from the Rahanweyn clan at a recent event for the children of Harakat al-Shabab martyrs

Suldaan (Sultan) bin Muhammad Al Muhammad, the former head of Harakat al-Shabab’s Emergency Relief Committee and head of its Zakat Office, which oversees the collection and distribution of the charity required of financially capable Muslims to aid the poor and other groups, such as soldiers