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August 29, 2014 0

ISIS Succeeds Al Shaabab as Foremost Recruiter of American Militants

Con­fir­ma­tion by U.S. offi­cials that two Amer­i­can men with links to Min­nesota were killed this past week­end in Syria while fight­ing for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) serves as the lat­est indi­ca­tion that ISIS has replaced Al Shabaab in Soma­lia as the ter­ror­ist des­ti­na­tion of choice for Amer­i­can mil­i­tants. 

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Abdi­rah­maan Muhumed

As the num­ber of Amer­i­cans join­ing Al Shabaab, the Al Qaeda affil­i­ate in Soma­lia, has steadily decreased over the past few years (more than 60 U.S. cit­i­zens and per­ma­nent res­i­dentshave trav­eled to or attempted to aid or joinAl Shabaab since 2007, Amer­i­cans trav­el­ing to or attempted to travel to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS or fight with other ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions in the region has increased.

Over 100 Amer­i­cans are believed to have trav­eled to Syria and Iraq to join the fight­ing over­all. In 2013 and 2014, 13 Amer­i­cans have been arrested for trav­el­ling or attempt­ing to travel to the region to join ISIS, Jab­hat al Nusra (Al Qaeda in Syria) or other ter­ror­ist groups.

Six oth­ers have report­edly been killed, includ­ing Abdi­rah­maan Muhumed, the 29-year-old Somali-American from Min­nesota killed this past week­end with Dou­glas McAu­thur McCain from San Diego/Minnesota, Moner Abu Salha from Florida, Nicole Mans­field from Michi­gan, Amir Farouk Ibrahim of Penn­syl­va­nia, and a man using the pseu­do­nym Abu Dujana Al-Amriki, whose back­ground is unclear.

Abdi­rah­maan Muhumed was appar­ently one of 15 Somali Amer­i­cans from Min­nesota under inves­ti­ga­tion by the FBI for trav­el­ling to Syria. ISIS has report­edly sent rep­re­sen­ta­tives to recruit from the Twin Cities, alarm­ing com­mu­nity leaders.

Muhumed and McCain report­edly inter­acted on social media before their deaths; McCain allegedly wrote on Muhamed’s Face­book wall, telling him to “con­tinue pro­tect­ing our broth­ers and sis­ters.” McCain was also friends with at least one other indi­vid­ual who appar­ently trav­eled abroad to joina ter­ror­ist organization.

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Troy Kasti­gar

McCain’s appar­ent high school friend, Troy Kasti­gar, became a mem­ber of Al Shabaab and was fea­tured in an English-language pro­pa­ganda video called “The Path to Par­adise,” in which he encour­aged Amer­i­cans to join the ter­ror group. “This is the best place to be,” said Kasti­gar in the video, “This is the real Dis­ney­land and you should come here and join us, take plea­sure in this fun…. Come here and join us so that we can die for the sake of Allah.”

Mohamed Abdul­lahi Has­san, who was indicted on ter­ror­ism charges in 2008 for join­ing Al Shabaab, was also an appar­ent friend of McCain’s. Hassan’s state­ments on Twit­ter after McCain’s death included, “The Hard­est thing in Jihad is when a brother u (sic) love is granted Sha­hadah [mar­tyr­dom]. Today im (sic) expe­ri­enc­ing those feel­ings. May Allah accept @iamthetooth [McCain].”

Has­san, who is believed to still be a mem­ber of Al Shabaab in Soma­lia, has encour­aged other extrem­ists to con­sider join­ing ISIS. In one response on Ask.FM, he wrote, “Fight­ing Jihad in other Jihadi fronts is good. I’m not say­ing you shouldn’t, but I rec­om­mend Sham [Syria] because our prophet pbuh [peace be upon him] rec­om­mended sham so i’ll (sic) go with that.”

Al Shabaab itself appears to have taken a sim­i­lar strat­egy of encour­ag­ing travel to any ter­ror front. In the sixth install­ment of its English-language video series Mujahideen Moments, released August 27, an appar­ent Al Shabaab mil­i­tant called on “Mus­lims, those that are liv­ing the U.S., espe­cially in Min­nesota, and Great Britain, Ger­many, and many parts of the kuf­far [apos­tate] world” to travel abroad to join the fight in ter­ror­ist con­flict zones includ­ing Soma­lia, Iraq and Afghanistan.

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May 13, 2014 0

Al Shabaab English Video Includes Calls For “Lone Wolf” Attacks

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Image from the con­clu­sion of Al-Shabaab’s new video

A new English-language video issued by Al Shabaab, the Somali Al Qaeda affil­i­ate, calls on Mus­lims liv­ing abroad to either under­take “a lone wolf mis­sion” in their home coun­tries or to travel abroad to join for­eign ter­ror­ist organizations.

Al Shabaab has long been active in recruit­ing West­ern­ers, and par­tic­u­larly Amer­i­cans, to its cause. Between 2007 and 2012, over 60 U.S. cit­i­zens and per­ma­nent res­i­dents attempted to aid or join the ter­ror­ist organization.

The video comes in the midst of an upsurge in sophis­ti­cated English-language pro­pa­ganda dis­sem­i­nated by ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions over the inter­net that is aimed at encour­ag­ing Amer­i­cans and other West­ern­ers to under­take vio­lent actions.

Other Al Qaeda groups, such as Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula, have long advised their ide­o­log­i­cal adher­ents to under­take lone wolf attacks and domes­tic rad­i­cal­iza­tion rather than travel abroad.

How­ever, Al Shabaab had pre­vi­ously been more focused on strength­en­ing its orga­ni­za­tion in Soma­lia. By pre­sent­ing Mus­lims abroad with a choice between mate­r­ial sup­port and lone wolf action rather than only call­ing on them to travel to Soma­lia, though, this video may mark a shift in Al Shabaab’s strategy.

The video is the fifth in a series called “Mujahideen Moments” but is the first to be pre­sented exclu­sively in English.

In addi­tion to its call for vio­lent activ­ity, it also ref­er­ences Al Shabaab’s 2013 attack on the West­gate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, as a pos­i­tive exam­ple for those con­tem­plat­ing ter­ror­ism abroad.

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February 26, 2013 0

Al Shabaab Highlights Global Role in New Video

Al Shabaab, the Soma­lia branch of Al Qaeda, released a new English-language and English-subtitled video yes­ter­day directed at West­ern audiences. 

The video, “Mujahideen Moments,” high­lights the role of for­eign fight­ers in the ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion, fea­tur­ing state­ments and speeches by two Kenyans and an Amer­i­can, iden­ti­fied only as “Abu Ahmed al-Amriki.”

Abu Ahmed’s face is obscured in the video and it is impos­si­ble at this point to ver­ify his true iden­tity.  Abu Ahmed urges lis­ten­ers to join the bat­tle­fronts “whether it’s here in Soma­lia, whether it’s in Mali, whether it’s in Afghanistan, whether it’s in Iraq, or whether it’s in Al-Maghrib Al-Islami [North Africa],” say­ing that they should fight because there are no excuses from the oblig­a­tion of jihad.  He also promises vic­tory and that “Amer­ica is going down, and the Khi­lafah [Caliphate] is rising.”

The video encour­ages for­eign­ers to join jihad, or if they can­not travel, to “fight the ene­mies of Allah where you find them.”

While Al Shabaab has long used for­eign fight­ers in its pro­pa­ganda to attract West­ern recruits, the video seems to be, in part, a response to its for­mer Amer­i­can spokesper­son, Omar Ham­mami. Ham­mami appar­ently split with the group over his belief that it was inter­ested only in local pol­i­tics and the fight in Soma­lia, rather than the cause of a global ”jiahd of the entire Ummah [Mus­lim nation].” In mes­sages released late last year, Ham­mami high­lighted the ten­sions between “the muha­jireen [Arabs and for­eign fight­ers] and the Ansar [local sup­port­ers of Al Shabaab].”

By fea­tur­ing for­eign fight­ers in the video, espe­cially Abu Ahmed, Al Shabaab may be try­ing to counter Hammami’s alle­ga­tions and show that it main­tains a sig­nif­i­cant inter­na­tional sup­port base.

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