Halloween may have come and gone, but it brought some horrific news. Some members of al-Shabaab, the al-Qaeda allied group in Africa, has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. It’s not an official position of the terrorist group. In 2012, the group pledged their loyalty al-Qaeda, and CNN reports that the group’s secret police are trying to purge themselves of members suspected of being ISIS supporters. Yet, the fact remains: ISIS has gained more friends in Africa:
A high-ranking member and spiritual leader of Al-Shabaab has pledged allegiance to ISIS, a move that further fractures the Somali-based jihadi group and spreads the reach of ISIS farther into Africa.
The report that formerly UK-based Abdul Qadir Mumin had sworn loyalty to ISIS came from a source familiar with Al-Shabaab and was supported by a U.S. intelligence source, who said Mumin's pledge came in a video that is expected to be released online.
In the video, Mumin, along with several other jihadis based in Somalia's Central Region, swear their allegiance to ISIS. Some known Al-Shabaab members have already done so online.
The Al-Shabaab-linked source told CNN that members of the group now fear for their lives as other political leaders systematically try to root out possible ISIS supporters within their ranks.
Sources within Al-Shabaab say the announcement is not totally unexpected. For weeks, Al-Shabaab's secret police, known as the Amniyat, have been arresting and jailing members within the insurgent group who they believed would switch their allegiance from al Qaeda to ISIS.
In April of 2015, the group executed a horrific shooting in Garissa, Kenya, where they killed over 140 students, mostly Christian, at the city’s University College. It was one of the worst attacks in the country’s history. At the time of the shooting, ISIS and al-Shabaab were fighting for recruits.
At its height, al-Shabaab controlled a portion of Somalia the size of Denmark, until the Obama administration and the African Union stepped in, forcing the group to abandon their ports, cities, and lost thousands of men in the process. Experts say that the April Garissa University College attack was staged to show people that they’re still around. In fact, The New York Times reported that the group has merely adapted to their new strategic situation. They’re not dying off. And after the Garissa attack–it heightened fears from U.S. officials that al-Shabaab could launch an attack on American soil.
For now, it looks as if the group is facing some soap opera drama over loyalties. Still, both factions are opposed to the United States, and one must always be cautious any time ISIS makes new friends.