200 Islamic extremist fighters split from rebels, pledge allegiance to IS

About 200 Islamic extremist fighters have split from Somalia's Al Shabab rebels, who are allied to Al Qaeda, and have instead pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group.

An armed member of the militant group Al Shabab attends a rally in support of the merger of the Somali militant group Al Shabab with Al Qaeda, on the outskirts of Mogadishu, Somalia, in 2012. The defections of two American Islamic extremist fighters in Somalia highlight tensions within the insurgent group Al Shabab over whether it should remain affiliated to Al Qaeda or switch allegiance to the Islamic State group, according to an AlSShabab commander Dec. 8, 2015.

About 200 Islamic extremist fighters have split from Somalia's Al Shabab rebels, who are allied to Al Qaeda, and have instead pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, Kenya's police chief said Thursday.

The splinter group is operating around the Somali border in Kenya's north, and has carried out at least two attacks in the last two weeks, killing one soldier and two civilians in Mandera County, Joseph Boinett told the Associated Press.

The split in Al Shabab poses an extra challenge for Kenya's security forces, Mr. Boinnet said. Among those who have joined the pro-IS faction of Al Shabab is Mohamed Kuno, alias Gamadhere, who is wanted for the April 2 attack by Al Shabab gunmen on Kenya's Garissa University in the country's east, in which 148 people were killed, Boinnet said.

Al Shabab has vowed retribution on Kenya for sending troops to Somalia to fight the Islamic extremists. Kenya has experienced a series of Al Shabab attacks since it sent its troops to Somalia in 2011.

The defections are causing tensions within Al Shabab.

Two men, an American citizen and U.S. resident, defected from Al Shabab and surrendered to Somali authorities earlier this month fearing they would be killed by their former colleagues on suspicion that they are IS supporters. Al Qaeda and Islamic State are rivals for jihadi recruits.

In October, Nigeria's Boko Haram extremists urged Al Shabab rebels to join them in pledging allegiance to the Islamic State group and thus abandon Al Qaeda.

The appeal from an unidentified armed fighter is part of a wider courting of Al Shabab. Similar messages came nearly two weeks ago from militant extremists in Iraq, Sinai, Syria, and Yemen.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.