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Islamic State Puntland

A senior al-Shabab commander in Somalias semiautonomous Puntland region reportedly defected from the group in October 2015 and pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He took about 20 of his followers with him, but the move represented a small split in the ranks as the vast majority of al-Shabab members in the region remained loyal to the group. A months-long Islamic State recruiting campaign in Somalia paid some dividends. Influential Muslim cleric, Abdiqadir Mumin, announced that he had joined the group and was bringing at least 20 of his followers with him.

Mumin was the most significant of the Islamic States recruits in Somalia. A cleric with an international following, he was seen as one of al-Shababs most significant religious figures and a leader in his native Puntland, which is considered to be outside of al-Shababs heartland.

Al-Shabaab's secret police, known as the Amniyat, had been arresting and jailing members within the insurgent group who they believed would switch their allegiance from al Qaeda to ISIS. Mumin is thought to be currently based in the mountainous Puntland region of northern Somalia, and thus unlikely to be persecuted or reached by the Amniyat, which operates mostly in southern Somalia.

On 25 December 2015 al-Shabaab militants attacked a group of pro-ISIS militants near Timirshe village in Puntland region, and there are unknown casualties from the clashes. Mumin denounced the targeted killings of pro-ISIS fighters and threatened al-Shabaab leadership, stating, Your kingdom will disappearcaliphate will come into effect in Somalia.

Islamic State militants claimed responsibility for attack against African Union troops in Somalia that took place 25 April 2016 outside Mogadishu. IS media said the group planted an explosive device that destroyed an AMISOM military vehicle in the village of Tredici. AMISOM military spokesman Joseph Kibet told VOA that a bomb exploded just after an AU convoy passed a junction, but cast doubt on the IS claim of responsibility. For us, we dont believe its ISIS. It could be one of those local Al-Shabab cells, Kibet said.

This wass the first time ISIS had declared its involvement in an operation in Somalia. The incident signaled the groups desire to make inroads in a war-torn region dominated by its rival, al Qaeda affiliate al-Shabab. While it would be no easy task, increasing its base in Somalia could translate into big rewards for ISIS, including access to Africas longest coastline and the neighboring nations of Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya, all key US allies.

Sources in Somalia's security apparatus estimate that about 100 fighters would likely defect to ISIS, among the estimated 1,400-strong insurgent group. The defections are mostly coming from the younger members, while the older members maintain allegiance to al Qaeda. The defection demonstrates a discontent with the current status quo, and shows that ISIS may be more appealing to younger, more impressionable jihadis.

Funding crises pushed Somali terror group, Al Shabaab to shift balance towards the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Puntland Government in Northern Somalia said, Garowe Online reported October 27, 2015. The remarks came less than a week after key Al Shabaab ideologue Abdulkadir Mumin defected to Islamic State, whose leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is desperately seeking to extend influence into the East African country.

Puntland Security Minister, Abdi Hirsi Ali (Qarjab) said on VOA Somali Service that funding slash by Al Qaeda split Al Shabaab. He added that Puntland views all forms of terrorist organizations including Daesh, Al Qaeda and East African franchise, Al Shabaab as existential threat. There have been speculations that Al Shabaab is facing severe funds shortage. We believe that Al Shabaab is being sponsored by clandestine terror networks, Puntland Security Minister noted.

Puntland beefed up security at entry points, such as coastal areas as Yemenis fleeing conflict continue to stream in. campaign resumed in early 2014, and Al Shabaab since opted for unprecedented hit-and-run attacks, largely in Bossaso Port City.

On 24 December 2015, pro-ISIL faction led by former ideologue Abdulkadir Mumin and Al Shabaab fighters clashed in Timirshe, agricultural village approximately some 150km south of Bossaso port city. Mumin retreated to ex-Pirate enclave Hul-Anod and began luring recruits into ISIL via handsome financial pledges. Hul-Anod is a high point overlooking the Indian Ocean.

Puntland forces clashed 15 March 2016 with ISIL fighters in the Nugal region a day after the militants briefly captured Garacad town. Militants allied to the Islamic State in the Levant and Iraq, ISIL were heading to Galgala mountain ranges in Bari region where its de facto leader Abdulkadir Mumin announced the groups allegiance to ISIL in 2015. About 200 militants arrived in boats in Garaad and immediately took over the town before cutting off communication lines. The militants seized the port town of Garaad but left the city on their own free will.

Pro-Islamic State Somali militants have grown in numbers and are receiving financial and military support from Yemen, a top intelligence official told the VOA Somali Service May 05, 2016. Abdi Hassan Hussein, the former Director of the U.S.-backed Puntland Intelligence Agency (PIA) said when the pro-IS Somali faction was founded in October last year it had about 20-30 men, but has since set up training camps and recruited more fighters. He said the groups fighters now number between 100-150 fighters. "They have graduated their first units and they have received their military supplies, he said.

Hussein said reports he has received indicate administrations in Somalia have underestimated the threat of the pro-IS group led by former al-Shabab cleric Abdulkadir Mumin. He criticized the Somali government and regional administrations for not taking the threat seriously. He said Islamic State will pose tougher challenge than al-Shabab. Daesh is more dangerous than al-Shabab. They are known for committing large scale destruction. They have more finance. They have more impact. They declared to start attacks within Somalia, and they readied units to carry out attacks.




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