From Freedom Fighters to Terrorists
By Anwar Kazaure
Gone were the days when this band of unlikely renegades stood for something much greater than themselves; of law and social justice, ending the era of ethnic hatred and brutal War lords, of the will to defend their right to live in a country free from foreign domination.
Al-Shabaab’s rise from a grass-root youth movement founded by Islamic clerics to an organization which controls five times more territory than the foreign-sponsored puppet regime in Mogadishu is a clear testament to the widespread support and popularity they enjoyed among the local population, an invaluable asset that was further cemented following Al-Shabaab’s successful military action against the invading US-backed Ethiopian forces in 2009. Ethiopia has long been Somalia’s enemy since the days of Communist Dictator Mengistu when the two countries fought a bitter conflict mired by the politics of the Cold War.
But Sunday wasn’t the first time that Al-Shabaab has flexed its international muscle in such a violent fashion. They had stuck last two years in Uganda and Northern Kenya, they conducted cross-border raids featuring grenades and small arms fire, what is different however this time is the scale; once again, Al-Shabaab has blatantly crossed the invisible line which separates Guerrilla Warfare and Pure Terrorism.
Al-Shabaab’s long-term strategy may depend on its ability to expand its geographical reach and attract western Muslims to its misguided cause. This could be seen more clearly in the intelligence reports coming out from Nairobi, stories about a Briton Lady called the Terror Widow reportedly giving orders to the hell squad and the 50 American-born fighters fighting along side them. This may not mean much, but it shows that to a certain extent Al-Shabaab has made significant progress in achieving its aspirations.
However, no amount of media savviness can obliterate the damage caused by Al-Shabaab’s recent infighting, betrayal and brutal killings of influential foreign members including its most successful western propagandist and its most valuable recruits, Omar Hammami Abu Mansoor Al-Amriki, Usama al-Britani and even two of the group’s co-founders, known as al-Afghani and Burhan. Ahmed Abdi Godane, Al-Shabaab leader’s ruthless Stalinist purge of the organization in the bloody power-struggle that enabled him to consolidate his power after an internal coup in June dealt the insurgent group a mortal blow it may never recover from. In my opinion, its Nairobi spectacle marks not the phoenix re-birth of Shabaab but the beginning of the end of its reign of terror.
This is not going to be brought about by the increasing interference of U.S and Israel in what is primarily an African debacle, because it creates more problem than it solves. It is not going to be the result of any Western involvement because it only provides the basis on which those murderous Thugs justify their inhumanity and draw strength. This is perhaps why the quick appearance of Israeli Security Forces on the ground as so-called Advisers immediately after the siege began is as dangerous as the folly of the Kenyan Government which allows its national security response to be shaped by an entity that is playing a different game, with it’s every act designed to serve only its own unique geopolitical objectives and national interest but never Kenya’s.
The final stage in the monstrous evolution of Al-Shabaab would be the natural fulfillment of its abominable legacy, the lesson of history is that this inevitable demise would be the result of its totalitarian and flawed ideology which distorts the truth and cause more damage to the religion which they claim to defend, an extreme militancy which brutally slaughters the people they say they protect, an idea built upon a foundation of ridiculous lies and self-concocted beliefs which contradicts not just human values but the very guide for the Islamic way of life; the sacred words of the Holy Qur’an.
“…if any one slew a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.” – Al- Quran 5:32