Somalia: al-Shabaab leaders in squabble over joining IS

Published: March 5, 2015

Somalia al-Shabaab In recent months, Somali militant group has been embroiled in a row over joining the Islamic State (IS), sources have said.
The fresh row is between the newly appointed leader Ahmed Omar (Abu-ubadd) and Mahad Karatay, a senior long-serving official who many regard him as the indirect leader and currently the most powerful figure.
With the death of its former leader Ahmed Abdi Godane last September and losing strategic towns and ports to the Somali government troops and African Union peacekeepers which were the main source of their economy, the radical organization not only lost its head, but has also experienced rows.
Al Shabaab emerged out of an insurgency fighting against Ethiopia, when its troops entered Somalia in a 2006 US-backed invasion to topple the Islamic Courts Union that was in control of the Somali capital, Mogadishu.
It has claimed responsibility for many attacks in Mogadishu and central and northern Somalia. Its attacks have focused on the TFG and its perceived allies, AU troops and aid organisations. The group has assassinated peace activists, international aid workers and journalists.
According to insiders, Mahad Karatay wants the group to merge with the Islamic State, while Abu-ubayda believes that the group has different principles from those of ISIS and is against to end alliance with al-Qaeda.
Al Shabaab announced to be an al-Qaeda affiliate, which are not in good terms with ISIS in 2012. Al-Qaeda denied it had any ties with the group.
Internal division has weakened the radical Islamist group since 2012.
In 2013, Ibrahim Afghani, a longtime jihadist commander who had close links with al-Qaeda was executed by forces loyal to Godane after Afghani reportedly issued a statement that criticized the Ex-leader. While other hardliners such as Mukhtar Roobow, Hassan Dahir Aweys and their close aides were forced to flee at that time from the coastal town of Barawe.
ISIS has captured the imagination of a new generation of jihadists — from Arab and European states alike — with its ruthless pursuit of a Caliphate, dramatic territorial gains and relentless propaganda machine.
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