Al-Shabaab jihad video targets foreign recruits

26 Nov 2010 by CST

In the same week that the Guardian discovered Afghan Taliban fighters who spend most of the year in the United Kingdom, while returning to Afghanistan each summer to fight, the Somali al-Shabaab group has released a new recruitment video explicitly targeting foreigners, and specifically English speakers. Al-Shabaab was designated a proscribed terrorist group in the UK in March 2010.

The video is approximately 35 minutes long and can be watched here. It is a perfect example of how local conflicts fit into the ideology and worldview of global jihad. Very little of the rhetoric in the video relates specifically to Somalia: it preaches a language of jihad and martyrdom which could apply to any of what it calls "the lands of jihad".

The video has English and Swahili subtitles throughout and even features a British Somali mujahid who goes by the name Abu Dujana, amongst other recruits from Sweden, Pakistan, Kenya, Sudan, Ethiopia and Tanzania.

Abu Dujana

Abu Zaid

Abu Dujana makes it clear that the purpose of his jihad is nothing less than to transform the nature of society. He says (at 22:45):

I'd like to use my time to talk about the blessings of living in one of the lands of jihad. First of all, before some of us came here we were living in a society where the people were enslaved by their desires. A place where people were made busy with worldly affairs, and hardly anyone took the time for thinking of the hereafter. A place where what Allah has made forbidden, was sometimes an obligation. And what Allah has made obligatory, was sometimes forbidden. Then Allah guided us for coming to this land, so we have a chance of establishing a society where the laws of Allah would be implemented...A place where the Quran and Sunnah are the settlements of all disputes. A place where we can prevent our women and children from athiest views that sometimes are taken as ideologies...for us, a chance to fight for our beliefs is the best thing that can happen to us in this world. And the fact that we may be killed in this path is nothing but a glad tiding. I'd like to take this opportunity to wish all the Muslims everywhere Eid Mubarak, and to invite all the Muslims who are living in the lands of disbelief, the lands of oppression, to make hijra...to the land of jihad.

The video also features messages from various jihadi figures including al-Qaeda's Abu Yahya al-Libi and the late Abdullah Azzam, the leader of the Arabs who fought in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union in the 1980s.

The presence of a British Somali in the video should not be taken as an invitation to demonise the entire British Somali community. Rather, it is an example of Al-Shabaab's international perspective, which is apparent throughout the video. At one point (20:44), a person identified as Khalid as-Sudani says  that they will conquer "all of Somalia Bi'idnillah until we end up in Palestine."

While Afghanistan understandably remains the focus of debate and concern about the efforts to combat the proponents of global jihad, Somalia and Yemen are becoming increasingly important as arenas in their own right. This video includes extensive footage of jihadi training routines that will be familiar to anyone who has seen similar videos shot in Afghanistan in the 1980s or Bosnia in the 1990s.

The video also identifies the perpetrator of a suicide bombing against Ethiopian troops in April 2007 as "Brother Musa" from Kenya:

Br Musa

It concludes with a rather chilling message from Shaykh Ali Mohamoud Rage, the spokesman for al-Shabaab:

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