The growing threat of Islamic State in Somalia

After more than a year and a half from the oath of allegiance to the Caliphate, Shabaab's splinter faction, become the branch of the Islamic State in the Horn of Africa, has committed its first suicidal action in Somalia.

Abdulqadr Mumim, center, with red beard. Image from an Islamic State video showing a training camp in Puntland.
Abdulqadr Mumim, center, with red beard. Image from an Islamic State video showing a training camp in Puntland.

The attack took place Tuesday in the port city of Bosaso, in the semi-autonomous Puntland region, where a kamikaze exploded against a checkpoint causing the death of a security officer and four civilians.

The Site Intelligence Group, which monitors online activities of jihadist organizations, has reported that the Islamic State has claimed the suicide bombing in Somalia through Amaq News Agency, a news outlet linked to the Islamic State, specifying that in 'Operation was used an explosive jacket'.

Although this is considered the first suicide attack by Abdulqadir Mumin's followers, it should be remembered that on April 25, the Islamic State in Somalia had already claimed its first attack in the country, pulled off against African Union Peace-Keeping Mission (AMISOM) convoy on the outskirts of the capital Mogadishu.

The occupation of Qandala

Amisom, though, denied the claim arguing that members of al-Shabaab were behind the action. However, there is no doubt that at the end of last October, taking advantage of the withdrawal of local forces, some sixty Somali militiamen of the Islamic State had managed to take control of Qandala, a citizen of the administrative district (gobol) of Bari and port over the Gulf of Aden.

The city was completely regained six weeks later by the Puntland government forces, which ended the first major conquest of the local ISIS faction in Somalia's semi-autonomous region.

Pro-Islamic State Somali militants fighters, on April 16, have again attempted to occupy Dasan village near Qandala, abandoned by extremists after a few hours without resisting.

The attempted handshake confirms that the Islamists remain scattered around Qandala, while from last February the group would be established in the area of ​​al-Mishkat Mountains in East Puntland. Here, the Somali branch of ISIS recruited young boys aged 10 to 15, orphans and even some mujahidin, who left al-Shabaab to join the terrorist cell.

The Islamic State in Somalia is also demonstrating the will to build consensus among the local population, as evidenced by the significant increase in media propaganda material used in Somali language.

Who is Abdulqadir Mumin, the Islamic State leader in Somalia?

Very interesting is the profile of the Islamic State leader in Somalia, Abdulqadir Mumin, born in Puntland and hails from the Ali Salebaan sub-clan of theDarod/Marjeteen. In some photos, Mumin appears with round goggles, long and orange beard tinted with henna. After a long stay in Sweden, he was a passionate flamboyant radical preacher in the London and Leicester mosques.

In 2010, the Sunni Islamist returns to Somalia and joins al-Shabaab mujahidin. But after five years clutches with the group leader, linked to al-Qaeda.

Thus, in a video released on the Internet on October 23, 2015, with a group of twenty loyalist’s Marjeteen clan, Mumin proclaims the split from al-Shabaab by swearing submission to al-Baghdadi caliph and producing a fracture within the group.

After Mumin and its proselytes joining the Islamic State, the current intransigent leader of al-Shabaab Ahmad Umar (also known as Abu Ubaidah) remains faithful to al-Qaida and ready to physically eliminate all those who express a contrary position.

The al-Shabaab leader orders Amniyat – the rival group’s internal security and intelligence branch – hunting down and killing any members who seek to or have defected to the Islamic State.

Mumin and his followers, who in the meantime had fled to the Galgala mountain range in Puntland, managed to escape the capture and set up the Somali branch of ISIS, which in the following months set up a training camp and form the first units.

Then, at the end of last August, the Sunni ideologist was put in the US Department State list of terrorists that posed a serious global threat. A designation that has transformed it into the potential target of a drone attack.

Meanwhile, his group has continued to leap in quality with a suicide attack, with the aim of raising the threat to Puntaland and to play a greater role in the panorama of regional jihadist extremism. In which it has now revealed a potential sufficient to constitute a serious danger.


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