Somalia: Shabab Becomes Al-Qaeda Franchise
Shabab terrorists staged rallies across Somalia on Monday to celebrate their group's recognition as a franchize-member of the Al-Qaeda terror network.
"The unification of Al-Shabab with Al-Qaeda breaks the hearts of the enemy," Shebab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage told a crowdin rebel-held Afgoye on the outskirts of Somalia's capital, Mogadishu.
"Mujahideen fighters worldwide, I promise you that the unification is a sign of the return of the Islamic caliphate worldwide," Rage added.
Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri announced in a video message posted on jihadist forums last week that Shebab fighters had joined ranks with the Islamist network.
"Sheikh Ayman al-Zawahiri has regional leaders in Iraq, Afghanistan, and sub-Saharan Africa," Rage fomented at the rally. "Here, where we are today, we will strengthen the unification of the mujahideen fighters."
According to reports, terrorists chanting anti-Western slogans and firing guns into the air forced people to close their stores and attend the rallies under duress.
Shabab terrorists seeking to overthrow the Somali government first proclaimed their allegiance to then Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in 2009.
The Western-backed Somali government only controls Mogadishu and northern Somalia with the aid of 10,000 African Union troops from Uganda, Burundi and Djibouti.
Officials in Mogadishu repeated calls Monday for United Nations to lift its arms embargo on the country so it can "defend the country."
"We ask all the young people that have been misled by Al-Shebab to stop working with them," the government statement added.
"The Somali government will not take lightly the danger from their official union and will put all its forces, as well as the general public, on the highest alert."
Shabab controls large swaths central and southern Somalia, but is under pressure from neighboring armies from Kenya and Ethiopia, as well as the AU force in Mogadishu.