Al-Shabaab Splits, As Faction Pledges Allegiance to ISIS
Somalia-based militant group Al-Shabaab is said to have split further, after its spiritual leader and a small faction pledged allegiance to ISIS.
CNN reports that high ranking member, Abdul Qadir Mumin, has sworn allegiance to ISIS in a video, which is expected to be released online soon. The Al-Shabaab officially pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda in 2012 and the shift appears to have further divided the group.
A gradual shift to ISIS
While this is the highest profile case of a public pledge to ISIS, sources within the group have reportedly been expecting such an incident. Al-Shabaab’s secret police, the Amniyat, has been arresting members suspected of switching allegiance for weeks, according to the report.
Sources close to the militia in Somalia have told CNN that tension is high within the group, describing the current situation as a “state of emergency.”
Despite the high profile pledge from Mumin, Al-Shabaab’s leadership remains largely in favour of Al-Qaeda. The shift in allegiance has been mostly present amongst younger members of Al-Shabaab, who could be more susceptible to ISIS’ recruitment methods.
ISIS looking to expand
A shift towards ISIS from within Al-Shabaab could signify nothing more than the difficult situation the group finds itself in. Somalia and African Union (AU) troops have pinned the militia’s forces into secluded parts of the country, while the pledge of UK troops to aid Somalia’s fight against the group is a major blow.
Regardless of Al-Shabaab’s growing task in Somalia, ISIS has been trying to recruit its members for some time now. If the group were to complete a shift towards ISIS allegiance, it would extend the Islamic State’s reach beyond Iraq and Syria, into Africa.