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

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

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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.

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

About Ibn Siqilli
Ph.D. Student in the Institute of Islamic Studies at McGill University

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

  1. Pingback: al-Katāi’b Media presents a new statement from Ḥarakat al-Shabāb al-Mujāhidīn: “Charitable Campaign of the Martyr Bin Lādin for the Relief of Those Affected by the Drought” « JIHADOLOGY

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  3. Pingback: Al-Qaida targets Somalia drought victims with cash handouts Unit arrives at camp as FBI reports up to 30 US nationals have joined al-Shabaab militant group, linked to al-Qaida | ikners.com

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