Will Somalia’s Al Shabaab take similar steps of Boko Haram to join ISIS

Published: March 12, 2015

Will Somalia’s Al Shabaab take similar steps of Boko Haram to join IS
Over the weekend, Nigeria based militant group Boko Haram pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq. The move which was anticipated came at a crucial moment – the group facing a major battle from the coalition forces of Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger and started to lose territories.
Boko Haram has continued to carry out brutal attacks across Nigerian territory – mostly in the northern part dominated by the Muslims. In fact not only in Nigeria, it has already proved its capabilities by crossing into other borders and labelling attacks such as Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
However, the Somali extremists have not been actively operating in Somalia since losing large territories to the Somali government forces and African Union troops. It no longer controls towns that they used to generate income from though they are still present in large swathes in rural areas.
But they have managed to launch deadly attacks in Mogadishu, targeting government officials and foreign nationals working for humanitarian organisations.
Since its former powerful leader Ahmed Abdi Godane was killed in a U.S airstrike in September last year, members of the group have disagreed on ways of continuing their campaigns with some suggesting new initiatives.
In the past two months, the group’s top officials have been arguing on whether to pledge allegiance to ISIS or bolster the ties with Al-Qaeda which they formally joined in 2012.
There is no indication that IS has a formal presence in Somalia. It certainly would have a rhetorical interest in expanding to Somalia. After all, given its wish to install an Islamic caliphate, it would ideally want to take over Islamic nations worldwide.
Many analysts argue that due to many challenges Al- Shabaab is facing currently, it will move forward to join the so-called Islamic caliphate which has overshadowed Al-Qaeda network due to its harsh actions and drawn media attention.
Areas that al-Shabaab is desperate to fix which they are struggling with for so long are; access to arms and funding.
Commentators believe that a possibility of al-Shabaab – ISIS alliance is highly to happen due to a main reason; Islamic state has one of its agendas to boost its global profile by linking up with other extremist groups. In turn, it will receive recruits from the war-torn state as the group seeks to attract further numbers of young jihadists across the world.
Somalia could become the key state of its Eastern Africa Islamic State caliphate. The appearance of cooperation between the two groups would allow the Islamic State to claim a bigger grip on Eastern Africa than its rival, al Qaeda, which still count in al-Shabaab. That is, the Islamic State could claim its reach extends far beyond al Qaeda, making it the world’s default premier terror group.
Should al-Shabaab fully pledge allegiance to ISIS, they would no longer be seen as the jihadi pariahs. Tactics could shift to mimic the brutality on the immolations, mass beheadings and worse.
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