Fugitive Kenyan Al Shabaab terrorist resurfaces with more threats

Al-Shaabab Leader Ahmed Imam.PHOTO: COURTESY/STANDARD

NAIROBI: The Al-Shabaab have posted a video on YouTube showing Kenyan fugitive militant Ahmed Iman Ali celebrating the killing of KDF soldiers in El Adde in Somalia.

This came even as Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinett warned outlawed groups out to cause mayhem that they will face the full force of the law.

Ahmed, who has a Sh300 million bounty on his head studied at a Kenyan university and has lived in Mombasa, Nairobi and Meru County where he has kin.

Al-Shabaab’s media agency Al Kataib, in the 210-second video, shows the militant holding what he claims to be weapons and ID cards from slain KDF soldiers.

In the video, Ahmed promises to “turn your Kenyan flag into red” with blood and declares that “we are inside Kenya” then threatens more violence in the propaganda video posted on February 22.  The video was posted as Somalia’s Parliament in Mogadishu was preparing to hold a debate on Kenya’s military intervention in Somalia this week.

Legislators in the Somali National Assembly have questioned why President Hassan Sheikh Muhamud attended a memorial for the Kenyan soldiers. On Wednesday the Somali President told BBC that between 180 and 200 Kenyan soldiers were killed in the attack. But KDF spokesman Col David Obonyo denied the reports on Thursday and explained that the camp had fewer soldiers than the death toll announced. In any case, said Obondo, some soldiers survived the raid.

Reports indicate that relations between Kenya and Somalia have deteriorated since January 15 due to hostile statements from Somalia’s political leaders, Parliament and military command. These groups have attributed the massacre to what they have described as laxity by the Kenyans.  “I am telling Kenyans they started a war without knowing the consequences,” Ahmed shouts in the video. Kenyan authorities have not commented on the video which is in Kiswahili. There are reports that security agencies have been trying to pull it down since Monday when it was posted by a Somalia news agency, apparently after receiving it from Al Kataib. Analysts have attached varying degrees of credibility to the video with some saying its timing is intended to raise the stature of Al Hijra. The Al Hijra is a Kenyan offshoot of the Al-Shabaab which Ahmed co-founded, allegedly with slain Mombasa militant Sheikh Abubakar Sharif Makaburi about five years ago.

The fact that the video was prepared by Al Kataib demonstrates Al Hijra’s standing alliance with a faction of Al-Shabaab. But some security analysts say Ahmed released the video to shift focus from Jaysh Ayman, the newest and one of the most violent wings of  the Al-Shabaab in Kenya active in Lamu County.  Jaysh Ayman was blamed for the 2014 Mpeketoni massacre as well as the KDF camp raid in Baure. It was also reported to be responsible the murder of policemen and soldiers in the northern parts of Lamu.

Jaysh Ayman has since declared allegiance to the Islamic State. 

Little has been heard from Al Hijra since Muslim cleric "Makaburi’s"  killing in April 2014. But there are some significant features in the short film which give clues and motivations to Ahmed’s claims, which some security analysts say are exaggerated but significant.

The video starts with about two dozen masked men, including a light-skinned one, stomping from a bush into a clearing under trees in an environment that appears to be forested and coastal Savannah.

They then gather and sit in two rows listening to Ahmed who starts his lecture by showing off the “booty” including the M4 rifle issued under number 0490 to a soldier he claims also owned the combat uniform he took away.

He then warns of more bloodshed while gesticulating wildly with his right palm to his audience and into the mounted camera.

With a two-way radio hanging on his chest, Ahmed displays what he alleges to be ID cards of soldiers he claims “we fried in Al Adde”.

Terror groups often turn to video broadcasts to further their propaganda. Al Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram and now Al-Shabaab have all turned to video technology to broadcast their bloodthirsty events.

SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors militant groups, says Ahmed was named the leader of Al-Shabaab in Kenya on January 10, 2012 following the killing of Fazul Abdullah Mohamed in Mogadishu in 2011.