An intelligence report has revealed that the dreaded Al Shabaab is on the verge of collapse due to acute mistrust among its members, leading to emergence of splinter cells.
The report adds that while some splinter groups have confessed allegiance to ISIS, others remain affiliated to Al-Qaeda.
The split has led to infighting and accusations within the insurgent group resulting in the killings of many fighters on suspicion of spying. The brutal conflict between two high ranking commanders; Sheikh Said Balbul and Abu Karim was reported in April in Somalia. The two who had declared allegiance to ISIS were later executed. Following the executions, an Al Shabaab militant identified as Abu Musab, released a video clip condemning the execution while he too pledged allegiance to ISIS.
“The Somalia-based militia group’s dwindling fortunes have led to the leadership trying to align itself with others. Al Shabaab has maintained its allegiance to Al Qaeda for a long time, but the recent alliance with ISIS by some middle level commanders suggests a rift in the group’s governance, further threatening its waning influence in certain parts of Somalia,” the report reads in part.
The document further states that the anxiety and suspicion among leaders and members has seen a vast of younger fighters surrender and pledge allegiance to the government. On May 13, for instance, a senior Al Shabaab commander, Abdullahi Bahar was killed during clashes between two warring factions professing allegiance to rival international terror groups in Baardhere.
The fighting is said to have been triggered when Abdullahi reportedly contacted Somalia government officials in Mogadishu in his quest to surrender.
Abdullahi’s overtures irked Al Shabaab’s radical leadership who decided to launch an attack on his base. Militants loyal to the estranged and slain commander then resolved to surrender to the government to fulfill their slain leaders’ wish and to spite his killers.
In another incident of infighting, two Kenyan Al Shabaab fighters were killed as tension intensified within the terror group’s foreign fighters and their Somalia commanders over spying suspicions. Ahmed Yusuf Hassan and Ahmed Nur Abdi were executed by Al Shabaab’s firing squad on April 2 in Buq Agable within Hiraan region on accusation of collaborating with Somalia National Army troops. Others executed include former Moi University student Jared Omambia and Mombasa born Faraj Abdulmajid. Four other foreign fighters were executed in Lower Jubba in July 2016 on spying allegations.
When the US government removed the militant’s feared leader Abu Mansoor from it’s wanted list and removed the US$ 5 million bounty on his head in June 2017, the terror group interpreted it as a sign that he had defected.
The resultant tension saw Mansoor and his followers move to their new camp in the mountainous region near Abal village.
The quest for leadership positions has also been fueling tension within the terror group.
“It is emerging that Al Shabaab leadership is increasingly targeting to eliminate foreign fighters in the midst and ensure it is the preserve of local fighters,” the report says.
The document adds, the foreign fighters with more funds and weapons pose a major threat that shifts power from the older indigenous Al Shabaab. It notes that the squabbles have further led to several Al Shabaab combat failures and loss of territory in the hands of AMISOM troops.