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Somalia's Al-Shabaab rebel movement has tightened its ties to the al
Qaeda terror network, with its leader pledging loyalty to al Qaeda
leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.
The Islamist militants control much of southern Somalia and have long
been affiliated with al Qaeda. But in an audio message posted on
Al-Shabaab's website Thursday, the Somali group's leader, Mukhtar Abu
al-Zubair, tells al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri that his followers
"will march with you as loyal soldiers."
Al-Zawahiri took command of al Qaeda after U.S. commandos killed the
movement's founder, Osama bin Laden, last May. Al-Zubair addresses
al-Zawahiri as "my dear commander and kind sheikh" and congratulates him
"for the defeat of the crusaders in Afghanistan and Iraq."
"On behalf of the soldiers and the commanders in al-Shabaab, we
pledge allegiance to you. So lead us to the path of jihad and martyrdom
that was drawn by our imam, the martyr Osama."
And in a video message posted on the site, al-Zawahiri hails the move
as news "that will delight the believers and annoy the crusaders.""The Arab region is slipping from America's grip," he says.
Al-Shabaab is already considered a terrorist movement by the United
States. It has been battling Somalia's U.N.-backed transitional
government and African Union peacekeepers for the past several years,
but has suffered a series of setbacks in recent months.
AU and government forces drove Al-Shabaab fighters from the center of
the Somali capital Mogadishu last year, while Kenyan troops crossed
into southern Somalia in October to hit back for a rash of kidnappings
it blamed on the group.
In November, the leaders of Kenya, Somalia and Uganda reaffirmed
their commitments to battle Al-Shabaab, and U.S. officials say the group
has recruited Somali-Americans to take up arms in their ancestral home.
Tags: Al Qaeda, Al-Shabaab, somalia rebels, terrorism, rebels, africa, afghanistan, bin laden
Location: Somalia (load item map)
Marked as: approved
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