At Al-Shabab Graduation Ceremony For Hundreds Of Fighters, Including Suicide Battalion, Spokesman Vows Ongoing War Against Somali Government, Its Allies, Warns Local Tribes To Repent

September 20, 2022

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On September 18, 2022, Al-Kataib, the official media outlet of Al-Qaeda's affiliate in Somalia, Harakat Al-Shabab Al-Mujahideen (Al-Shabab), published a 30-minute video titled: "No Doubt, Surely, Allah's Promise Is True [Quran 10:55]."[1] The video featured a speech by Al-Shabab's spokesman, identified as Sheikh Ali Mohamud Raage, given at the graduation ceremony for a military training course for new fighters, including a "suicide battalion." The Arabic- and Somali-language video featured English subtitles, and was accompanied by two documents containing Arabic and English translations of the speech.

The spokesman began with an introduction indicating that the graduation ceremony was for a training course named after "Sayid Muhammad Abdullah Hassan."[2] His speech was divided into the following segments: "The current situation in Somalia, a message to the Muslim tribes in Somalia, a message to the scholars, the [ongoing] drought in Somalia, a message to the mujahideen," and concluded with a "victory for the believers" segment, directing threats at the Somali government and its local and global allies.

The video also showed the spokesman addressing hundreds of fighters armed with rocket launchers and machine guns, while other senior commanders, some with digitally-blurred faces, were in attendance.

Western Colonizers, Local Apostate Governments Still Threaten Somalia

Raage began his speech by paying tribute to Sayid Muhammad Abdullah Hassan, a Somali leader who fought colonial powers seeking to occupy Somalia in the early twentieth century, adding that the training course was named after him. Arguing that Somalia is still threatened by the same old enemies, the spokesman compared Western colonizers to the powers Al-Shabab's is fighting.

"Sayid Muhammad Abdullah Hassan fought against the British, the Italians, the Abyssinians [Ethiopians] and local apostate administrations. Similar to the treacherous regional apostate administrations of today, there were regional apostate governments during his time that were loyal to the British, the Italians and the Abyssinians and he fought against them all."

He added that in the present, local tribes who are allied with foreign powers are playing destructive role in Somalia.

"It is as if the scenario of his day and age are a replica of what we are witnessing today. Therefore, in his [Sayid Hassan's] biography and history we can derive great meaning and lessons and this is why your military training seminar has been named after him," he said.

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Jihad In Somalia And Other Muslim Lands

Raage claimed that waging jihad is the obligation of every Muslim, as "disbelievers have invaded our lands." He added that this call of jihad applies to all Muslim lands occupied by non-Muslims, not just those in East Africa.

After a foreign enemy invades Muslim lands, he explained, locals divide into three categories based on their response. The first group allies with the invaders, the second hides in fear, and the third takes up arms to fight the invaders: "Any time the disbelievers invade a Muslim land, the inhabitants of that land are always divided into three categories. The first group of people are those who surrender to the disbelievers and assist them. The second group of people are those who feared the disbelievers, refrained from fighting them and abandoned the Muslims, yet they did not leave the fold of Islam by assisting the disbelievers. The third group are those who put their family and children behind them and fought against the enemies."

He then praised Al-Shabab's fighters for being part of the third category, being chosen by Allah to fight against occupying enemies.

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The Enemy's Goals

Expanding on the alleged goals of the "occupying" forces, the spokesman asked: "So, what does the enemy want from us? Why have the disbelievers attacked us and invaded our lands?"

The main goal, he said, is to force Muslims not to believe in Allah and to become apostates: "They want to expel us from our religion, prevent us from implementing Islamic Shari'a, spread immorality in our society and undermine our virtues. These are the objectives of the disbelievers, and it is all summed up by their intention to force us to disbelieve just as they have disbelieved. The apostates, on the other hand, are merely subservient slaves to the disbelievers who fulfil for them their agendas."

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The Current Situation In Somalia

The spokesman discussed the "current state of affairs" in Somalia, arguing that the country "has undergone a few transitions." Among them, he said, is the replacement of foreign powers with Somali governments, implying that the latter is an extension of Western power. Raage then accused Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud of "being the new pawn owned by the Crusaders and led by the U.S."

He said: "An example of this is the so-called election that recently took place in the city of Mogadishu, more specifically in Afisioni Tent which is occupied by the disbelievers, and in which the apostate Hassan Sheikh was selected as president. The first meeting he took part in after he was selected by the disbelievers was with the American ambassador to Somalia in Mogadishu."

Raage further alleged that the only goal of this agenda is to "wage war against the Muslims of Somalia and East Africa... and to plunder the resources of the Muslims and to protect the interests of the so-called international community ... of disbelievers."

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Discrediting AMISOM

Discussing the federal governing system in Somalia, Raage argued that it "is a system designed to divide and conquer" Muslims by dividing the tribes and turn them against each other.

He then condemned what he described as "Somali apostates" who handed over Somalia to its historic enemies — the Ethiopians and Kenyans. He noted that their scheme was failing, thanks to the efforts of the mujahideen.

Highlighting the capabilities of Al-Shabab's fighters, he noted that the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) has failed for a decade to defeat the group, and was forced to rebrand as the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS).

To further discredit ATMIS, he alleged that the U.S. and Western "Crusader" forces are the true masterminds behind these missions, adding that their scheme in Somalia is falling apart due to a lack of funding from the West.

"As a result, the African Crusaders [ATMIS] in Somalia, the likes of [which are] the Burundians, Ugandans, Ethiopians, Kenyans, and the Nigerians, have no financial support and are now complaining, as we see in the media, that they need money and are unable to accomplish their mission because they are hungry."

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Impact Of Russia-Ukraine War

Raage's speech then commented on global events, highlighting the current Russian-Ukrainian war, saying it "has hindered the international community from providing any help to the Somali government" to fight Al-Shabab.

"Allah has pitted the disbelievers against one another. Russia invaded Ukraine and Europe has now become even more divided, and overtaken by bloodshed, war and to this day the conflict is still ongoing. We ask Allah that He intensifies the hatred and war amongst them. As a result of these different obstacles, [Somali President] Hassan Sheikh and his team have become disheartened," he said.

Addressing the Somali government next, Raage said the Somali President has been making "empty threats" against Al-Shabab since he came to power, saying his real intention is "to unify the fragmented factions amongst the apostate government and to divert the media's attention away from the internal discord between politicians."

"His real intention is to buy time, in order to find a solution to the divisions that have crippled the apostate military and uproot the mistrust that has entrenched itself inside the apostate intelligence agency," Raage continued, adding: "[the intention] behind [Sheikh's] false declarations to war is to solicit funds from the international community of disbelievers, under the pretext that he is fighting the Mujahideen and thus worthy of support."

Raage then threatened the Somali President by assuring him that the mujahideen will triumph, as promised by Allah: "This is the extent of Hassan Sheikh's desperate efforts. However, our message to Hassan Sheikh is, if you have declared war against the Mujahideen, then know that Allah, the Exalted, has promised us with victory and success. You, on the other hand, have promised to annihilate us, and therefore we will see which of the two promises comes to fruition. We are certain that the promise of Allah will definitely become true."

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Muslims Should Stay Away From Military Targets

Next, Raage warned locals to avoid military bases or government buildings, as they might be impacted in future attacks by the group. He added that these targets are legitimate and that attacking them is an act of worshipping Allah.

He said: "We hereby call on all the Muslims who live, work, park their cars or seek leisure near the vicinities of the Crusader and apostate bases, offices or headquarters of the crusader invaders and their apostate allies, to stay away and be extremely cautious from these areas. The disbelievers, whoever they maybe and their apostate allies are all legitimate targets whose killing we deem as an act of worship to Allah, therefore let the Muslims stay away from them and their areas."

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A Message To Local Tribes

Addressing Somali tribes who collaborate with the Somali government or its allies, Raage called on them to return to the true teachings of the shari'a and refuse to cooperate with non-believers.

He added that the Somali president, "in a desperate attempt," has resorted to arming certain tribes, making them into mercenaries and militias. Such militias will always be a target of the mujahideen as they spread insecurity and fear among the people, he said. They were defeated before and will be defeated again, concluded Raage.

A Massage To Muslims And Scholars

Using a softer tone, Raage called on Somali Muslim clerics to abide by shari'a teaching, and not to lead Muslims astray by spreading disbelief, democracy, and immorality:

"I also wish to address the truthful Somali scholars who have acted according to their knowledge. It is an obligation on the scholars to fulfil their duty in raising awareness amongst the Muslims and warning them of the dangers of disbelief, democracy, worshipping others besides Allah, immorality and the imitation of the disbelievers. At the same time, the scholars should stand up in support of implementing the shari'a of Allah."

The Drought In Somalia

Addressing the drought crisis in Somalia, the spokesman stated that drought has been a recurring disaster in the country due to the sins and wrongdoings of its people, who should repent view this affliction as a test form Allah:

"Drought in Somalia has been a recurring problem for many years and it is a test from Allah. These recurring droughts are a result of our sins and wrongdoings." He then urged Muslims to repent and ask for Allah's forgiveness and mercy.

Praising the group for its efforts to help locals during the drought, Raage listed some of the outreach activities carried out by the group and the number of people who benefitted from them:

"The Islamic Wilaayaat and the Mujahideen, whilst fulfilling their duty towards the Muslims afflicted by the drought, have provided assistance comprised of food distribution, water provision and free medical treatment throughout the Islamic Wilaayaat. The relief efforts of the Mujahideen in the Islamic Wilaayaat began on Jumada Ath-Thani 1443 hijri [the beginning of January 2022] and is ongoing until today. The Muslims who benefitted from the relief efforts of the Mujahideen are to date 47,169 families. The number of water tankers delivered to the Muslims in the drought-stricken areas are to date 3611. On top of that, the Mujahideen have also provided fuel to farmers living in the riverine areas in order to enable them to water their crops through pump irrigation from the river. The Mujahideen have also dug many water wells across the Islamic Wilaayaat, and in the specific regions where wells were not feasible, the Mujahideen dug reservoirs."

A Massage To The Mujahideen

The spokesman made special acknowledgement and praised the "martyrdom [suicide] brigade" who were graduating as part of the ceremony:

"I wish to address the Mujahideen, specifically the martyrdom brigade whose banner I can see from where I am standing. May Allah reward you. With your blood and lives you have defended the sanctity of the Book of Allah, the honour of our Prophet and the honour of the [global] Muslim Ummah and their sanctities. My message to all the different Mujahideen units in front of me and those stationed in the battlefronts, is to know that you are the ones defending the religion of Islam, the Muslims and their land and resources."

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A Massage To Somalia's President

Raage concluded his speech with a final threat to the Somali president and his allies, warning that he will fail to eliminate Al-Shabab as he promised, and that the group will take up his challenge and defeat him.

"As for our message to Hassan Sheikh and his allies, we say to them: You have taken an oath to annihilate the Mujahideen and we have taken you up on your challenge. Stick to your oath and know that we will not back down. Stand by your words and we will stand by ours, and we shall see which one of us is left standing. We ask Allaah by His grace and mercy to grant us swift victory over the disbelievers and their allies."

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Coverage By Al-Shabab's Official Media Outlet

Shahada News Agency, the official media outlet of the group, released an Arabic transcript of the speech along with a summary of the video and speech.

It claimed that the speech and the graduation ceremony send a clear message on how prepared the group is to carry out a long-term war to achieve all its goals. It noted that the speech coincided with another speech released by the Somali President, in which he asked the U.S. to aid in defeating Al-Shabab.

Shahada further said the footage in the video shows the massive number of fighters "wearing the same uniform and carrying weapons, and among them the suicide brigade, which only indicates that the recruitment operation is thriving." It added: "This speech will succeed in attracting more global, East African, and Somali Muslim youth."

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[1] September 18, 2022.

[2] Sayid Mohamed Abdullahi Hassan (1856-1920) was a Somali religious and miliary leader, viewed as a hero. He led the Dervish movement which fought against colonial British, Italian, and Ethiopian forces until he was killed in British air-bombardment in 1920.

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