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January 6th, 2010
02:56 PM ET

Al Qaeda's fresh recruits

A photograph of Al-Shabaab circulating online.

A photograph of Al-Shabaab circulating online.

Octavia Nasr | BIO
AC360° Contributor
CNN Senior Editor, Mideast Affairs

They call themselves Al-Shabaab which means 'the Youth' in Arabic.

On several occasions, they pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden and his terror network al Qaeda. They use the internet to propagate al Qaeda's ideology.

In July 2009, an Al-Shabaab propaganda video featured a man speaking English with a clearly identifiable U.S. accent.

He was introduced as Abu Mansoor al-Amriki (the American) claiming that he left the U.S. for Somalia to pursue al Qaeda’s brand of Jihad.

In the video, a bearded al-Amriki says with a smile, "The only reason we’re staying here, away from our families, away from the cities, away from, you know, ice, candy bars, all these other things, is because we’re waiting to meet with the enemy.”

Al-Shabaab's enemy is anyone representing the west: from its leaders to its collaborators and supporters.

In a broken and lawless African country like Somalia, where one million people face death by starvation, the scene is a breeding ground for gangs, pirates and Islamic militants to recruit, train and terrorize freely.

My team and I continuously monitor them online to get a glimpse of what they’re up to. They regularly post propaganda videos andonline statements on radical Islamist websites.

Al-Shabaab has publically announced on various occasions its cooperation with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a terror group that encompasses several others with the same al Qaeda ideology.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is based in the border region between Yemen and Saudi Arabia, but has claimed responsibility for attacks both near and far from its base. The latest claim of responsibility it issued was for the Christmas Day failed bombing attempt on a US airliner. Before that, the group claimed responsibility for a failed assassination attempt against a Saudi Royal in August 2009.

Last week, Somalia's Al-Shabaab released pictures of what it described as a “graduation ceremony” of its fresh recruits, “trained and ready” to head to Yemen to “assist in Jihad their brethren of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula."

Cooperation among terror groups in Africa and the Middle East has been a known fact among counter-terrorism experts within the intelligence community. But the new activities, militant on-the-ground strategies as well as online propaganda, show that the groups are actively recruiting and determined to continue their fight. And for many, it’s a sign that al Qaeda is looking to build and strengthen new fronts for its brand of Jihad.


Filed under: al Qaeda • Middle East • Octavia Nasr • Terrorism
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. aashtan

    realy i'm a young haitian guy who grew up in miami f,l now i'm living in canada ,always watching cnn on the net or my t.v
    what i realy think about this terror peoples is : evry single one of them deserve to be capture and put in prison cause realy this peoples are a threat to life.
    on christmas day inccident about that young guy,they should put him in prison for life
    all my family are in the states specialy miami and n.y city ,i immagine that day if he did acomplished his mission how many families that would being in pain and tears.my mom travel alot and this kind of stuff brought alot of fear to my family,scared of geting on a plane cause we don't realy know who's onbord ,we could have one of them coming from any part of the world...this people kills their own kind think about when it comes to us here in america and n.america they would wipe us out if they have a chance.it's not like they don't know what they doing in fact they choose it and they happy about it.me i live by the law of the jungle you 're a good person i do you good,you're a bad person i do you just like you do others...i'm anti terrorist for life this peoples are worst than an animal more dangerous than sharks and lions... i wish i was in the military... i will be more than happy to go to one of this countries and take care of them... i would wipe them off, i believe in CHRISTIANITY i'm a soldier of GOD and JESUS CHRIST thank you.

    January 7, 2010 at 5:35 am |
  2. desean

    i will never feel good about our war on terror until we fix our borders

    January 7, 2010 at 5:20 am |
  3. desean

    as a soldier media should take a step back and let us do our job and our leaders should let us take these groups out instead of throwing rocks in there direction and trying to force them to talk it out the don't talk the kill our bro. and sis.

    January 7, 2010 at 5:16 am |
  4. Abdullah

    I believe that had not the 1st "Bush" violated the Muslims and Junior following suit, the United States would not be getting terrorized by these Islamic Extremists, sure other countries are being terrorized and it's because they're allies with the United States who enjoys meddling in other country's affairs, I guess the U.S. has met their match...G'd bless president Obama, he is truly a strong person, his willingness to pick up and carry the torch left behind by the Bush's is amazingly wonderful but dangerous, remember these fanatics have nothing to live for and TRULY BELIEVE THEY HAVE ALOT TO DIE FOR...On the other hand "Al-Islam" forbids suicide, nowhere in the "Holy Qur'an" NOWHERE does it state that this type of crazy behavior is accepted, I don't care how much brainwashing the fanatical, islamic extremists do to whomever. SUICIDE IS A MAJOR SIN IN AL-ISLAM AND THESE CRAZY'S WILL NOT ENTER PARADISE THIS WAY...NEVER...Unfortunately, they believe they are going to become Martyr's for Allah's cause by strapping themselves up with bombs and killing innocent people, NEVER will this be accepted by Allah, but @ the same time they are only defending their land, and if the NATO forces and all these other countries didn't get involve in the affairs of the Muslims or bother these extremist type Muslims they probably would not be going crazy...G'D BLESS AMERICA, As-Salaamu-Alaikum.

    January 7, 2010 at 2:22 am |
  5. Mike in NYC

    IIRC, Somalia had a brief period of economic stability and order when Islamists were in power.

    Al-Shabaab is also opposed to Western food aid on the grounds that it ruins local farmers, which is true.

    January 6, 2010 at 3:24 pm |
  6. Tim Gibson

    The reality is, no matter how small in numbers, these groups cooperate among themselves at a more efficient fashion than leaders of developed nations and as a result are more effective in digging themselves into our security system and within our rank and file.

    January 6, 2010 at 3:11 pm |