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It wasn't us: Somali militants disavow Kenya threat

Al Shabab, the Somali militant group with ideological links to Al Qaeda, says the threat to attack Kenya – posted on its website this week – is fake.

By Scott BaldaufStaff writer / January 22, 2010

Hard-line Islamist Al Shabab fighters conduct military exercises in northern Mogadishu, Somalia, on Jan. 1.

Farah Abdi Warsameh/AP

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Johannesburg

By posting on its own website a threat to attack Kenya, and then disavowing that threat as a “fake,” Somali insurgent group Al Shabab may seem a bit confused.

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But that doesn’t make either the threat or the people who made the threat any less dangerous, nor Kenya any less vulnerable, security analysts say. It may indicate a split among the group's leadership between jihadists and nationalists.

With hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees residing within its borders, and a sizable indigenous Somali ethnic community as well, Kenya must remain vigilant against potential threats such as the Islamist Al-Shabab militia, which professes close ties to and a shared ideology with Al Qaeda. Kenya’s vulnerability was seen plainly last week, after protests over the planned deportation of a radical Jamaican cleric turned violent in Nairobi’s Somali neighborhood of Eastleigh, and as protesters unfurled the black flag of Al Shabab to show their radical allegiances.

“If the Mungiki [an ethnic Kikuyu militia] can carry out attacks in Nairobi, anybody can,” says Richard Cornwell, a veteran Africa analyst from Tshwane (Pretoria). “Whether this is really Al Shabab or ordinary criminal elements pretending to act in the defense of Islam – we’re more than just bandits, we’re religious bandits – it doesn’t really matter. They can do bloody well what they want.”

'When we arrive we will hit, hit until we kill'

This week, after Kenya’s security forces detained hundreds of protesters in the Somali-dominated neighborhood of Eastleigh, Al Shabab’s official website carried an audio recording of a threat to attack Kenya.

"God willing we will arrive in Nairobi, we will enter Nairobi, God willing we will enter ... when we arrive we will hit, hit until we kill, weapons we have, praise be to God, they are enough," Reuters news agency quoted the seven-minute long chanting message from Swahili.

On Saturday, Kenya’s Interior Minister George Saitoti accused Al Shabab of infiltrating the demonstrations in Nairobi against the arrest and deportation of Jamaican-born cleric Abdullah Al-Faisal.

Al Shabab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage later told Reuters that the audio recording was fake.

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