Somali Gov’t: ‘No News’ al-Shabab Allied to al-Qaida

Posted February 10th, 2012 at 8:05 am (UTC-5)
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Somalia's transitional government says it is not surprised that militant group al-Shabab has formally joined forces with al-Qaida.

The government's minister of information, Abdulkadir Hussein Mohamed, said in a statement Friday that word of the alliance is “no news to us.”

He asserted that al-Shabab leaders are paid representatives of al-Qaida, and that al-Shabab can no longer, in his words, “masquerade as an indigenous Somali-Islamic organization.”

Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri announced the alliance with al-Shabab in a video message posted to jihadist websites Thursday.

The group had previously said it is aligned with al-Qaida, and in June pledged allegiance to al-Zawahiri, after U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden.

Al-Shabab has been battling the Somali government for five years in a bid to take control of the country and impose a strict form of Islamic law.

The group is increasingly seen as a regional threat in East Africa, prompting the governments of Kenya and Ethiopia to send troops into Somalia.

Al-Shabab once controlled most of the Somali capital, Mogadishu, but was recently pushed out by African Union and Somali government forces.

The United States has designated al-Shabab as a terrorist organization.