Al-Shabaab IS Faction Carries Out First Attacks in Kenya, Somalia
A faction of the Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab that has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) has carried out its first attacks in Somalia and Kenya.The East African terror group has reportedly split into two smaller factions, with one remaining loyal to Al-Qaeda while the other affiliates itself with IS. The new faction is believed to be responsible for a recent wave of attacks in Kenya’s northeastern Mandera County and across the border in Somalia.
News of an Al-Shabaab split won’t come as a surprise to many after small pockets of the group began pledging allegiance to IS in recent months. The shift towards IS has caused an internal division between Al-Qaeda loyalists and the typically younger members who have defected. The two factions are now competing in their recruitment efforts and staging attacks within Somalia and over the Kenyan border.
“They have split,” confirms Kenyan Police Service (KPS) Inspector General Joseph Boinnet. “As a result of the splits, particularly the ones along ideological and religious lines, are very keen to promote that internal competition by proving a point,” he said. “They are competing to spread an international jihadist agenda, which could be deadly if and when their attacks happens,” he added.
Series of attacks in northern Kenya
While the large-scale attacks Boinnet mentions are yet to materialise, a series of smaller attacks on buses, police escorts and other vulnerable targets have occurred in northern Kenya recently. Police say the pro-IS faction of Al-Shabaab has already established itself in Kenya’s Mandera County where the recent attacks have taken place, while the Al-Qaeda loyalists largely operate in the south.
However, the main base for Al-Shabaab still sits across the border in Somalia, where there’s fear IS could now establish its presence in the Horn of Africa. Somali Defense Minister Gen. Abdulkadir Sheikh Ali Dini recently told Voice of America his country will do everything it can to prevent this happening.
The Somali National Army (SNA), with the support of the people will jointly prevent al-Shabab defectors to create Daesh [another name for IS] and its ideology in the country,” he said.