The faction loyal to top al-Shabaab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane has vowed to use “all legitimate means” necessary to enforce unity within the splintering militant group.
“Those who wish to plant the destructive seeds of disunity among the Mujahideen will be strongly dealt with should they fail to desist,” Godane’s faction warned Sunday (June 30th) on al-Shabaab’s official Twitter account.
Godane and his faction continue to blame “kuffar” (infidels) and “hypocrites” (dissenters) for the growing defections from the top leader.
“The Kuffar and the hypocrites have long been persistent in their attempts to dismember the single Jama’ah [congregation] and the unity of the Mujahideen,” al-Shabaab said via Twitter. “Their aim was to weaken the Mujahideen by keeping them preoccupied with internal strife whilst receiving a much-needed respite from battles.”
“As such, the leadership of HSM [Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen] is determined to take all legitimate measures to safeguard the Mujahideen against such divisions and disputes.”
Godane and his loyalists are attempting to deflect from a deluge of criticism levelled by other al-Shabaab militants. Senior al-Shabaab leaders such as now-dead al-Shabaab co-founder Ibrahim al-Afghani, Hassan Dahir Aweys, Fuad Mohamed Qalaf (or Fuad Shangole), Sheikh Mukhtar Ali Robow and an array of foreign fighters in Somalia have issued statements saying Godane has grown tyrannical and close-minded and strayed from the true path of jihad.
Al-Shabaab’s internal crisis quickly escalated in the southern Somali town of Barawe on June 19th, when unprecedented clashes took place between Godane loyalists and al-Shabaab fighters opposed to his rule. A handful of militants died in the battle, which led to al-Afghani’s arrest and reported execution.
The open warfare between al-Shabaab forces has also caused a number of its senior leaders to flee. Aweys fled Barawe to central Somalia where he was detained by Himan and Heeb authorities and later transferred to Mogadishu and arrested by the Somali federal government.
Reports also suggest that American-born jihadist Abu Mansoor al-Amriki is actually alive and on the run with Robow somewhere near Hudur. He was reportedly killed May 7th by gunmen loyal to Godane, and has not been heard from since he sent his last Twitter message May 3rd.
Godane attempts to defend his faction’s dedication to Islam
Several of the 15 tweets posted by Godane loyalists on Sunday were defensive in nature and attempted to cast his faction as humble servants of God and Islam.
“We pledge to stand firm to protect the fruits of our Jihad, legacy of our Martyrs, methodology of our Prophet SAW & our covenant with Allah,” al-Shabaab tweeted. “We have a responsibility towards our Muslim Ummah to preserve the fruits of this Jihad and by Allah we will not allow anyone to squander it.”
“HSM pledges to continue to fully protect and preserve this Jihad until the light of Tawheed illuminates the darkest corners of this universe.”
These tweets, however, are merely a reaction to the discovery that a statement from Godane posted in Arabic June 17th via Twitter twist the words of Prophet Mohammed and uses a long list of hadiths and Qur’anic verses to shore up obedience within the al-Shabaab rank-and-file and justify his continuing manhunt — all of which is contrary to Islam.
As dissension continues to spread within the militant group, portraying himself as a faithful Muslim leader seems to be one of Godane’s few remaining tactics to instil loyalty among al-Shabaab members. But by corrupting Islamic tenets for his own gain, Godane’s support is bound to be undermined further.