November 12, 2012
Somalis have condemned the call by al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri for Muslims throughout the world to take up arms and support al-Shabaab.
"This new speech made by al-Qaeda's leader comes at a time when al-Shabaab is facing a huge drop in its military capability and an increasing decline in its areas of operation and deployments," said political analyst Hussein Abdullahi Ahmed, a former member of the Islamic Courts Union.
"For this reason, al-Zawahiri is trying to encourage fighters who are stressed and anxious about the unknown future after allied forces expelled them from key areas and cities over which they had control not so long ago," Ahmed told Sabahi.
In a seven-minute audio message released Tuesday (November 6th) on jihadist websites, al-Zawahiri sent a message of encouragement to al-Shabaab and urged Muslims around the world to fight on behalf of jihad.
"This is a flagrant Crusader invasion of the Muslim countries and it makes jihad obligatory on every Muslim who is capable in Somalia and its surroundings and in the rest of the world until the invaders are expelled," al-Zawahiri said. "Therefore, make them taste the fire of jihad and its heat. Pursue them with guerrilla warfare, ambushes and martyrdom-seekers."
But Ahmed said al-Zawahiri's message will not carry a lot of weight in Somalia.
"If the leader of al-Qaeda thinks that Somalis listen to his speeches that incite violence and support al-Shabaab, then he is mistaken," Ahmed said. "If he thinks al-Shabaab will gain strength by virtue of his calls to continue fighting, then this will only leave them weaker. Repeated calls by the al-Qaeda leader for al-Shabaab to continue fighting are nothing more than a symbol of the group's weakness."
Ahmed condemned al-Zawahiri's intentions as transgressions against Somalia. "The goal of al-Qaeda and al-Shabaab is to thwart the hopes of the Somali people who are looking forward to a better future that is free from violence and terrorism," he said.
Abdiwahab Ahmed Omar of the National Youth League also condemned the al-Qaeda leader's call to violence. "Al-Zawahiri's message is totally rejected and cannot be accepted at all by Somali youth," he said.
More than 200 representatives of youth organisations met in Mogadishu on November 8th to condemn al-Zawahiri's message.
"The objective of our meeting was to explain our stance, which completely rejects the message of the al-Qaeda leader, and to [make it clear] that we do not support terrorist groups, but rather educating youths and teenagers about the dangers of such calls that come from terrorists," he told Sabahi.
"Al-Shabaab and al-Qaeda always use deception to recruit teenagers under the pretext of defending Islam and jihad against the infidels," he said. "These tricks, however, are useless and the perpetrators have been exposed as people who do not defend Islam. If they are defending Islam, why would they blow up mosques, restaurants and stores? I call on young Somalis, wherever they may be, to reject calls by terrorists."
On Monday (November 12th), members of Ahlu Sunna wal Jamaa, officials from the city of Mogadishu, representatives from civil society groups and civilians came together in a rally against al-Zawahiri and his call to action, Radio Mogadishu reported.
Deeqo Abdulqadir, head of the Wartanabadda district in Mogadishu, told attendees that the Somali people have suffered greatly because of terrorists and therefore should not tolerate any more of their transgressions.
Similarly, Benadir deputy-administrator of security Warsame Mohamed Hassan condemned al-Zawahiri's message and urged civilians to work with security forces to ensure peace in the city.
Dahir Mohamud Gelle, a former commander in the Islamic Courts Union and former minister of information in the Somali Transitional Federal Government, said al-Zawahiri's call was ineffectual.
"Al-Zawahiri's call has no impact and will not be heeded at all," Gelle told Sabahi, adding that Somalis have rejected the violence al-Qaeda uses to reach its objectives.
"The Somali people know very well what terrorism means in terms of bloodshed and the killing of innocent people, making al-Zawahiri's speech utterly rejected and unacceptable," he said.
Mohamed Hassan Haad, chairman of the Council of Hawiye Elders, one of the largest tribes in central Somalia, also labelled al-Zawahiri's message as ineffectual. "The message of this big terrorist can be described as insane and it falls on deaf ears in Somalia," he told Sabahi.
"The heinous acts perpetrated by al-Shabaab and al-Qaeda are why Somalis suffer from so many problems today, so we cannot accept such silly calls released by leaders of terrorist organisations," he said.
Haad said al-Zawahiri should leave Somalia alone.
"Somalia and Somalis are well aware of their future and that of their country and al-Zawahiri should not interfere in our affairs," he said.
Al-Zawahiri's message came less than a month after a video recording was released of American-born jihadist Omar Hammami, better known as Abu Mansoor al-Amriki, calling on "the leaders of jihad and virtuous scholars" to intervene and solve the "friction" between al-Shabaab's local leaders and foreign fighters.
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