The al-Shabaab militant group expressed support for Hamas in an official statement about the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas. The statement from the group’s leadership supports and celebrates last Saturday’s attack on Israel by Hamas, which Hamas called ‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’. Al-Shabaab further promised to conduct ‘solidarity attacks in East Africa’, putting Kenya on high alert.
The statement commenced by congratulating Hamas for their efforts. It characterized the ongoing battle not merely as a conflict between Israel and one Islamic faction in Palestine but as a struggle for the entire Muslim community. Al-Shabaab urged Muslims to unite and back the Mujahideen in their fight against the Jews and their allies, whom they consider infidels and hypocrites.
The group also criticized the international response to the events of 7 October, noting how the United States, Europe, and other Western nations had rallied behind Israel while condemning the “heroic resistance” of Hamas. They accused the West of branding any attack by their enemies as terrorism. Al-Shabaab perceived this unified support for Israel as evidence that disbelief (“kufr”) was a shared value among these nations.
Al-Shabaab’s statement expressed satisfaction at the “blow” dealt to Israel, which they believe had exposed the vulnerability of the Western-backed “empire” established on Muslim land in Palestine over the past 75 years.
Kenya on high alert
Somalia’s neighbour, Kenya, has been on high alert, warning of the potential for groups like al-Shabaab to carry out attacks in “solidarity” with Hamas. Kenya has experienced a series of attacks by al-Shabaab since deploying troops to neighbouring Somalia in 2011 to combat the al-Qaeda-affiliated jihadists.
Yesterday, the country’s counterterrorism police service expressed that the conflict between Israel and Hamas has global security implications. They cautioned that terrorist groups like al-Shabaab may launch attacks in support of Hamas to maintain their relevance. They also urged Kenyans to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activities to the police.
Al-Shabaab’s past remarks on Israel and Palestine
Al-Shabaab had previously commented on the matter. After the attack on Nairobi’s DusitD2 hotel and office complex in January 2019, the group asserted that the assault was a response to the declaration by former US President Donald Trump, recognizing Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel. The attack on DusitD2 resulted in the loss of at least 21 lives.