tisdag, september 09, 2008

Fortsatt svenskt i Shabaabs Somalia

Sveriges betydelse för Somalias omvandling till jihadistkontrollerat område är fortsatt stor. Det svenska jihadistforumet Al Qimmah (som drivs av Ralf Wadman, alias Abu Usama El Swede) arrangerade i fredags en konferens på Paltalk, där terroriströrelsen Shabaabs talesman Mukhtar Robow och den svenske medborgaren Fuad Mohamed Qalaf (Khalaf) berättade att Somalia snart skulle förklaras vara ett Islamiskt emirat (alltså samma term som talibanerna använde för Afghanistan).

Enligt Nick Grace på The Long War Journal:

Leaders of Shabaab, the Young Mujahideen Movement in Somalia, stated Friday that the group is preparing for the establishment of an Islamic Emirate and that an announcement is expected within days. The statement came as the group consolidated power in the Lower Juba region, which borders Kenya, and formed a sharia-based administration in Kismayo.

Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Mukhtar Robow, who is also known as Abu Mansur, and top leader Sheikh Fuad Mohamed Qalaf told a Paltalk forum organized by the radical al Qimmah Forum that fighters "are close to uniting their ranks" and would integrate under the rule of the Islamic Emirate of Somalia. They said that the formation of the emirate is "imminent" and that an announcement would be made "very soon."
Jane's Intelligence Review har en artikel (prenumeration krävs) om Shabaab, författad av norske forskaren Stig Jarle Hansen (forskning). Som vanligt finns det svenska kopplingar, i synnerhet vad gäller just Rinkeby-imamen Fuad.
The Shabab's most prominent political figure was Sheikh Fuad Muhammad Qalaf. A former imam from the now closed Rinkeby Mosque in Sweden, Sheikh Fuad was given a position in the Executive Committee, the UIC's equivalent of a cabinet, probably because he was a conduit for money flowing in from diaspora Somalis and foreign Islamist supporters. He used his youth and education portfolio to mobilise schools and universities for the military struggle. Sheikh Fuad's links to the Shabab were initially unclear, but he has subsequently emerged as one of the group's principal ideologues.


One example of the way in which a largely local conflict is being woven into the pan-Islamist narrative is the 'martyrdom' video of Abu Ayyub al-Muhajir, a suicide bomber who blew himself up in Baidoa on 11 October 2007. Abu Ayyub argued: "The crusaders of the four corners of the world, under the leadership of the Americans, have united to wage war upon the Muslims."

Abu Ayyub also accused Western countries of taking in Somali refugees as a way of distancing them from their religion. Echoing previous speeches by Sheikh Fuad, the film called on Somalis to return home to prevent Western society from poisoning their faith and warned them against having Christian and Jewish friends. It also featured images of jihadist leaders, including Sheikh Abdullah Azzam, Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, as well as Khatab, a famous Arab commander who fought in Chechnya.


The Shabab also needs money for operating costs and to pay its more mercenary fighters. Many men were recruited to the Shabab in 2006 with the promise of a regular salary, reported by local media to be up to USD70 a month, a comparatively large sum by Somali standards. Rumours that Shabab units in Mogadishu faced mutinies in February suggested that money was still an important factor. The proportion of the total attacks in Mogadishu claimed by the Shabab subsequently decreased.

Given this discrepancy, the Shabab will continue to rely on overseas support to survive. Much of the Shabab's money probably comes from the diaspora and foreign Islamist supporters. The large numbers of Somalis living outside their country are vulnerable to Islamist radicalisation as they are exposed to more diverse interpretations of Islam and traditional clan loyalties become less relevant. An unknown number (but probably hundreds) of ethnic Somalis returned home to assist the UIC in 2006. Some of them were British, US or Swedish nationals.

This process has probably continued after the Ethiopian intervention. Two of the Shabab's suicide bombers have been identified as Kenyans, although it is unclear whether they were ethnic Somali Kenyans. Another, Abu Ayyub, spoke good English in his 'martyrdom' video, suggesting he had spent time in an Anglophone country. The Shabab's English-language website is probably the work of emigrants capable of translating statements from the Somali site.

The Shabab's adoption of Al-Qaeda's ideology may reflect a need to attract the support of diaspora radicals and foreign Islamist donors. As a result, there is likely to be little deviation from this ideological trend, so the possibility remains that the group will attempt to extend its operations beyond Somalia's borders.


It is also possible that the Shabab will attempt attacks against Western interests in the region with the help of Al-Qaeda allies. The group threatened retaliation against the US after it designated it as a terrorist group in February and again after Ayro's death.

This is a feasible threat given that Al-Qaeda operatives can slip across the Somali-Kenyan border with ease. The Kenyan press has reported that three suspected Al-Qaeda operatives were briefly detained by police in northern Kenya on 31 May before being rescued by Somali gunmen who had crossed the border. The gunmen were probably loyal to Hassan Turki, not the Shabab.

While the Shabab's ability to launch major operations against Western interests in the region remains unknown, it is clear its current direction is being dictated by a small group of Afghanistan veterans and diaspora ideologues such as Sheikh Fuad.
Och medan vi är inne på ämnet: På tisdag den 16 september klockan 18, i ABF-huset i Stockholm, har Charta 2008 ett möte om "Terroristjakten och rättssäkerheten" där "Drabbade i terroristjakten berättar", och svensksomaliska Domstolarna-anhängaren Amina Said, Mehdi Ghezalis spökskrivare Gösta Hulthén och islamologen Mattias Gardell samtalar under ledning av miljöpartiets Mehmet Kaplan. De väljer nog en lite annan vinkel, men det är viktiga och svåra frågor, så det är väl värt ett besök.