Al-Shabaab support for Boko Haram reflects group's own sordid past with children

By Cleophus Tres Thomas III in Nairobi and Fuad Ahmed in Mogadishu

May 16, 2014

  • Print
  • Reset Decrease Increase

When Nigeria's Islamist group Boko Haram kidnapped 276 schoolgirls last month, it sent shockwaves around the world and drew widespread condemnation.

  • A screengrab taken on May 12, 2014, from a video of Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram shows the kidnapped schoolgirls wearing the full-length hijab and holding the flag associated with radical Islam. Boko Haram took a page from al-Shabaab's kidnapping playbook, claiming in the video that the girls had converted to Islam and showing them reciting prayers. [AFP PHOTO / BOKO HARAM]

    A screengrab taken on May 12, 2014, from a video of Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram shows the kidnapped schoolgirls wearing the full-length hijab and holding the flag associated with radical Islam. Boko Haram took a page from al-Shabaab's kidnapping playbook, claiming in the video that the girls had converted to Islam and showing them reciting prayers. [AFP PHOTO / BOKO HARAM]

  • Police officers walk past the school in the Nigerian town of Chibok where more than 200 schoolgirls were abducted by Boko Haram on April 21, 2014. [AFP PHOTO / STR]

    Police officers walk past the school in the Nigerian town of Chibok where more than 200 schoolgirls were abducted by Boko Haram on April 21, 2014. [AFP PHOTO / STR]

  • A screengrab taken on May 12, 2014, from a video released by Boko Haram shows a man claiming to be the group's leader Abubakar Shekau. [AFP PHOTO / BOKO HARAM]

    A screengrab taken on May 12, 2014, from a video released by Boko Haram shows a man claiming to be the group's leader Abubakar Shekau. [AFP PHOTO / BOKO HARAM]

The kidnapping on April 14th in the Nigerian town of Chibok even attracted censure and disapproval from fellow al-Qaeda-linked groups. But the incident did receive one rare show of approval: from al-Shabaab.

Al-Shabaab, which also has a tradition of forcefully abducting children and conscripting them to fight, voiced support for the Nigerian group's actions through its official Radio al-Andalus Facebook page.

In a series of postings starting May 10th, al-Shabaab argues that the abduction is justified as a result of the Nigerian government's abuses against Muslims and that Boko Haram "rescued" the young girls from these injustices.

As a pretext for its argument, al-Shabaab in one post shows a series of images which it claims are Nigerian policemen forcing injured or disabled Muslims to the ground as a "young Christian" officer appears to execute them. The post also notes that Muslims should argue against these actions and "seek blood" in revenge.

Al-Shabaab also attempted to justify Boko Haram's actions saying they are less inhumane than the government's mistreatment of Muslims in Nigerian jails.

"The mujahideen are treating the women respectfully," one of the statements on al-Andalus' Facebook page said. "[Each girl] will be given to one man who will make her his wife or sell her to another man who wants [her]. Later, they will be freed and married like [other] free women."

In another post, al-Shabaab asks its followers to chime in about the fate of the abducted girls, giving three scenarios:

1. Should they be released without conditions?

2. Should they be given freedom for a ransom?

3. Should they be given to other jihadists so that 200 more boys can be born to join the mujahideen?

The post claims that all three options are allowed under sharia if the girls are labelled as part of the "infidels" or "disbelievers".

Readers' responses were split between options 1 and 3 -- releasing the girls without condition and "giving" them to the mujahedeen to support the cause of jihad.

"I think they should be freed without condition. Muslim scholars have 100% agreed that the kidnapping is wrong," one reader said, adding that kidnapping non-Muslims who live peacefully with Muslims will tarnish the image of Islam.

Others condemned the group altogether.

"There are standards for jihad. Boko Haram did not even get a good word from jihadi scholars or al-Qaeda. Their actions are a transgression and they do not have enough Islamic knowledge," another reader posted.

"Al-Andalus, do not misguide people. The militants are not mujahideen," he said. "It is true that Muslims are being oppressed and killed, but what [Boko Haram] did is something that cannot be tolerated."

"[Boko Haram] are not mujahideen; they are devils," another reader wrote. "They are wrong and Islamic sharia does not allow marrying women forcefully. I pray to God to free the women that they have abducted."

Somalis condemn al-Shabaab's support for Boko Haram

Sheikh Said Sheikh Mohamud Sheikh Abdirahman, head of justice affairs for Ahlu Sunna wal Jamaa in Guriel, said that anyone with true Islamic knowledge knows that Boko Haram's kidnapping of the girls is forbidden.

"Islam has given human beings special respect, especially [to] women whose rights must be safeguarded," he told Sabahi. "Therefore, what do you think [Islam says] of the person who abducts young girls who are going to school, whether the reason for the abduction is to seek money or not, or for reasons based on politics?"

"Every Muslim person understands and there are no questions about the illegality of the abductions," he said.

"The men carrying out kidnappings such as these are sinners far [worse] than what we have seen before "he said."[This] is something to be ashamed of in every sense."

Abdirahman said he was not surprised that al-Shabaab's media outlet would exalt the actions of other terrorist groups.

"It is to be expected from a group, to whom beheadings and suicide bombings are normal, to glorify the kidnappings of a terror group with their same ideology," he said, adding al-Shabaab has been responsible for even worse crimes than what Boko Haram is doing now.

Hassan Ali, a 53-year-old traditional elder from Mogadishu, said al-Shabaab and Boko Haram are cut from the same cloth.

"When terrorist groups similar to al-Shabaab, who have emerged strongly in the last ten years across the world and in African countries, are weakened, they are unanimous in the abduction and abuse against children and women," Ali told Sabahi.

"That is why I was really sad when I heard the group Boko Haram had abducted young female students," he said. "It reminded me of the actions al-Shabaab carried out throughout many towns across Somalia's regions when they controlled [them]."


The kidnapping of the schoolgirls has triggered a global uproar and sparked an international social media campaign using the hashtag -- #BringBackOurGirls.

US government officials on Thursday (May 15th) slammed Nigeria's "slow" response to the kidnapping and to the threat of Boko Haram in general.

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Senator Robert Menendez said Nigeria had been "tragically and unacceptably slow" to deal with the crisis, despite offers of assistance from the United States and other countries.

"I have called on President [Goodluck] Jonathan to demonstrate the leadership his nation is demanding," Menendez said.

"In the face of this sophisticated threat, Nigeria's security forces have been slow to adapt with new strategies and new tactics," US Department of Defence official Alice Friend said.

The United States has sent a team of around 30 civilian and military personnel to help the Nigerian government hunt for the kidnapped schoolgirls. The US military also confirmed it is flying surveillance drones as well as manned reconnaissance planes over the country in an effort to locate the girls.

Asha Farah, a 26-year-old who studied public administration at Mogadishu University, welcomed the support offered by the US government and the international community in the search for the girls abducted by Boko Haram.

"I really view this as an ugly act by the Boko Haram group, which is claiming to be a group that fights in the name of Islam. This is an action that international terrorists are known for," she said.

"In support of the appeal made by Nigerian parents, I urge Boko Haram to release the children if they care about humanity at all," she said.

(Comment Policy) *Denotes Required Field

Reader's Comments

  • Said Mbonde.
    December 18, 2014 @ 01:54:21PM

    Very nice. We get online news so easily.

    October 7, 2014 @ 11:05:57PM


  • jawa
    July 7, 2014 @ 03:01:21PM

    It must be improved.

  • abu ali
    July 1, 2014 @ 04:41:18PM

    my allah helpp mu jahidinta al shabab and boka haram viva islamic insha'allah we finsh all kufar } allah akbar }

  • godfrey safiel
    July 1, 2014 @ 01:52:19PM

    It's very dangerous, o brothers. We have to look at the One who is above. He is the one who is able of all. He is capable of ending wars without weapons. I hope that, for God's grace, they will be released. That's all from Rombo - Tarakea.

  • Hassan salim
    June 27, 2014 @ 12:29:42PM

    The world must deal with the sources of terrorism instead of waiting for terrorism to use drones. I personally take terrorism as a result of the most oppressed class that seems to loose hopes thus taking any decisions as long as their oppressors get the message. The best approach is for the governments to try being just.

  • shahid
    June 25, 2014 @ 01:04:19PM

    Jihad must go on to the end of the world. Some Muslims don't understand themselves. They don't see what is done to other Muslims. They are still with the nonbelievers.

  • Mabagala chiengele
    June 21, 2014 @ 10:53:30AM

    What do these people want because there are kidnappings everyday. Is this the end of the world? Kenyatta must take his soldiers out from Somalia. He must be kind enough to see people are dying. He should fear God.

  • abuu hudhaifa
    June 16, 2014 @ 08:18:07AM

    While kidnapping those girls has caused a lot of cries, they are just being treated well wherever they are, while our Boko Haram brothers in Nigerian prisons are being severely tortured. Do you take Boko Haram as barbarians just for pressurizing government to release our jailed brothers? You are as good as nothing. We will take Nigeria as well as Somalia.

  • shiiq zakriye mohomud
    June 16, 2014 @ 07:27:57AM

    I am sure that this website belongs to Somalis, however, it is affiliated to the followers of the disbelievers, brothers this religion was revealed by Allah; Al-shabaab and Boko Haram, are doing deeds to get closer to Allah but what is entertaining is that you don’t give peace to people who are protecting the religion of Allah and paying their wealth and property towards it for sake of Allah and you choose the disbelievers and the enemies of Allah. This war is not a war that has begun today but it is war that has been there for long time, so brothers first of all learn the religion.

  • faiz hamumy
    June 14, 2014 @ 04:11:22PM

    Terrorism must be stopped!

  • sharifa
    June 14, 2014 @ 10:17:22AM

    The people who are not knowledgeable about Islam should not rush to associate these incidents of kidnappings and current bad deeds as a true path of religion! Islam is a religion of peace and a guidance to human beings! If people are doing things for their political gains through Islam, that is to tarnish the image of religion and God will punish them! Anything evil you are doing in this world, will be paid in the Hereafter.

  • Humph moses
    June 14, 2014 @ 10:15:09AM

    Religion is about peace and love and I don't believe their religion tells them to kidnap, explode and commit violences. How can you, a human being, defend God. A true god shows himself to people and cannot wait for you to defend him.

  • tibenderana rizwan
    June 13, 2014 @ 09:20:07PM

    those are not fighting for islam they are fighting for wealth.

  • Khamza Daud
    June 9, 2014 @ 02:18:50AM

    These things are surprising to people with knowledge. The United States collaborated with other countries to commit barbarism in Afghanistan, Iraq and many other countries where innocent children were killed, women raped and murdered and people were disabled. It might be remembered that the United States attacked Japan with nuclear bomb and caused huge damages. It is believed that no one will be able to do such harmful things as Americans in the world, but they are not deeply mentioned, just some few words about them. But surprisingly, when a group appears to do heinous acts, and called itself Islamist. Why? Why when G Bush or America attacks Muslim nations and kill Muslims, we don't hear them called fundamentalists? We should not blame Islam for the dirty things done by a Muslim. Islam is not just about reading Prophet's sayings or Qur'an or speaking Arabic. We must be serious and careful. Why, when it was believed that Nigerian girls have been kidnapped, the United Nations did not immediately send military assistance and instead the US army goes there? Something is behind the scene. People have got to be careful with what is going on in this world. If you study it, you will find that Islam does not teach barbarism, abuse, hooliganism and killing against innocent people. We should not look at what the groups associated themselves with Islam and blame or hate Islam. Study Islam and know what is behind the scene, because there is a hidden truth that a lot of people have got no idea what it is!

  • Ibahati shemjawa kutoka tanga tanzania
    June 5, 2014 @ 12:25:44AM

    We would like to ask Nigerian government to do whatever it can so that these girls are able to return and continue with their education.

  • omary mchele
    June 3, 2014 @ 03:39:03PM

    Is true that those shown in the picture are schoolgirls? Why are we made stupid by the West? What about drones that kill people in Palestine and rape against Muslim women in Baghdad? Are those right? Haven't seen them? Nigerian brothers, be careful. America wants to instigate something here. Terrorists.

  • Fredrick Ahenda
    June 2, 2014 @ 02:12:31PM

    Like Nigeria'this our contnent have got the strongest disease of the terrorist,'So let we pray for our God to our earth

    June 2, 2014 @ 12:18:46PM

    They are not definitely doing that to humiliate. They would better fulfill their demands. Why are not saying anything while their colleagues have been arrested? They are doing God's job for their faith

    June 1, 2014 @ 01:51:19PM

    May God help these girls. Everything has its end. The truth will definitely be known. Who is the real GOD.

  • cumar
    May 31, 2014 @ 11:51:57AM

    I tell to all of Somali people that the outrageous act committed by the people who use the name of Islam is not something good but everything has it’s time.

  • Somaliweyn Gooni
    May 30, 2014 @ 05:16:19AM

    I am surprised why the non-believers are outraged against the abduction of 200 women, while generally more than 1000 die every day in Africa because of hunger and conflict, why don’t they talk about those?. Is there any specific Interest in these girls or the westerners fear that this issue will affect them?

  • Mustafa Abdulmalik
    May 30, 2014 @ 01:08:20AM

    As a Nigerian Muslim, I must be candid that Boko Haram is not just evil but it is a sect that emerged to blackmail Islam. It was tolerated by Muslim leaders and the ummah in Northern Nigeria and Govt on the other hand, was helpless because of corruption that is part of our daily lives. Boko Haram started over a decade ago but jihadist killing took another dimension in 2011. Part of this article claimed that Nigeria Muslims are being killed by the Police. This is misleading. Boko Haram lives among the people and use them as sheild. In this case, who do we blame? We must be careful because part of our publicity would directly aid boko haram campign. Thank u

  • Kapaya Philipo
    May 29, 2014 @ 01:56:41PM

    How could we understand Muslims as their statements are conflicting each other. Some say it's right and others say it's wrong.

  • Tatu Juma
    May 27, 2014 @ 04:48:01AM

    According to my little knowledge, kidnapping is against Islamic law...

  • Nicole becky
    May 26, 2014 @ 10:43:54AM

    Its vry sad n shokin as innocent girls r bein kidnaped.its my humble prayer that gvp shud do smthng

  • Halake
    May 26, 2014 @ 09:06:12AM

    This is not an act of islam. But devil act!

  • jamiil
    May 24, 2014 @ 12:57:32PM

    I was expecting to find good news in here.

  • Zachary Ishalla
    May 24, 2014 @ 05:28:46AM

    Islam doesn't allow oppression against any people, especially against women and children who are helpless. Even Allah is not pleased by what Boko Haram and al-Shabaab do.

  • Yusuf
    May 24, 2014 @ 02:25:34AM

    They are all hooligans!

  • abdallah msuya
    May 23, 2014 @ 05:56:59PM

    I like al-Shabaab and Boko Haram very much.

  • Abdirahmaan
    May 22, 2014 @ 06:24:21PM

    May Allah guide us all to the rightful path, there are people who are striving hard to discredit the religion. We are following the best religion of the world, Islam which means peace or peaceful and Allah promised that it will be protected until judgment day.

  • Faiz mahmoud
    May 22, 2014 @ 04:49:39AM

    We have forgotten Prophet Muhammad's (pbuh) words who said Jihad will continue till the Last Day. We should stop American and Jewish propaganda. Islam is being fought!!!

  • fatma hamdan
    May 20, 2014 @ 12:22:59PM

    They are not true Muslims. One's faith is in his heart. They cannot force a person this way. Islam needs belief. What Boko Haram did is totally inhumane.

  • Rama Juma
    May 20, 2014 @ 07:40:54AM

    Al-Qaida, al-Shabaab, Boko Haram are instruments for the enemies of Islam and they are not Muslims. They have been created by Westeners led by Zionists so as to eradicate Islam. They were made from the rift between Muslims. Its solution is in mosques which truly follow God's words (Qur'an) and his Prophet (PBUH). It's a rift between Muslims who don't have a leader. God himself has promised to defend the religion (Islam) till the last day. Let's ask Him to minimize the pains in the killings carried out by al-Shabaab and Boko Haram. Amen.

  • AboAli
    May 20, 2014 @ 06:03:15AM

    First of all, it's not good to force someone into Islam.... it's not good at all.

  • rudwaan mahad
    May 19, 2014 @ 08:11:21AM

    The abduction of Boko Haram is prohibited in Islam. They are not real Muslims, but they have downgraded the integrity of Islam and they are terrorists.

  • George Mitigoa
    May 19, 2014 @ 12:54:59AM

    I totally fail to understand Islam. How can you abduct school children and yet claim God's help.

  • pardon msyani
    May 17, 2014 @ 12:45:48PM

    The world is heading to its end. Religion is about teaching good and not bad things. But now the religion has been about war. I don't know where we go.

Latest News

In the Spotlight



How can members of the diaspora best support Somalia?

View results