Al-Shabab Releases Video Of Attack On U.S. Base In Kenya, Vows To Continue Attacks On U.S. Targets

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January 31, 2021

The following report is now a complimentary offering from MEMRI's Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM). For JTTM subscription information, click here. 

On January 29, 2021, Al-Qaeda’s Somali affiliate Al-Shabab Al-Mujahideen released a new video documenting the preparations for the raid it conducted on the U.S. military base at Camp Simba near Manda Bay, Kenya on January 5, 2020 in which three Americans were killed and several aircraft destroyed.[1] The 55-minute video was produced by the group’s Al-Kata’ib media wing and distributed by the Global Islamic Media Front (GIMF) on its Rocket.Chat platform and on Telegram. The video features never-before-seen footage of a meeting between Al-Shabab leader Abu Ubaydah Ahmad Omar and the attackers; training and preparations for the raid; final messages from the attackers; and drone footage of the raid in progress. The video is interspersed with archival audio clips from Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri and past leaders Osama bin Laden, Anwar Al-‘Awlaki, Abu Mus'ab Abd Al-Wudoud, and others. It stresses that the Manda Bay raid was perpetrated as part of Al-Qaeda’s “Jerusalem Will Never Be Judaized” campaign which was launched in response to the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.[2]

The excerpts in the following report are based on the English translation provided by Al-Shabab:

The video opens with audio clips of bin Laden and Al-Zawahiri describing Al-Qaeda’s commitment to the cause?] of Palestine and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. It then shows the meeting of Al-Shabab leader Abu Ubaydah with the men who subsequently carried out the attack. In his address to his men, Abu Ubaydah rejoices that Al-Shabab is currently “in a direct confrontation with the U.S. He instructs the men to confirm the killing of wounded U.S. soldiers, and states that their top priority is to destroy as many U.S. aircraft as possible at the base.


Drone footage filmed by Al-Shabab of burning aircraft in Camp Simba

Abu Ubaydah begins his speech by celebrating the fact that his group is fighting the U.S., and speaks about the U.S. base in Manda Bay and its importance. He boasts that in spite of all its intelligence capabilities the U.S. is completely unaware of the impending attack “You are headed towards the American military base in Kenya. Allahu Akbar! Our war has passed through several stages, hasn’t it? ... Today, we are engaged in a direct war against the Americans. As you sit here now, do you think that the Americans know that you are about to attack them? No they don’t. They can continue to boast about having intelligence, advanced technology, surveillance cameras and drones but know that you are more powerful than their drones. The U.S. military base is located in Kenya. It is known as Manda Bay base and it is situated in Lamu County. It is a secret military base on which the Mujahideen have conducted extensive reconnaissance and you will soon be shown more information regarding the base.

"The base is one of the major military bases belonging to US-AFRICOM in East Africa, particularly in Lamu, Kenya. It is the equivalent of Ballidoogle in Kenya and that is where you are headed. It is a base of evil and disbelief. It is the base from where attacks against innocent Muslims are launched. That is where you are headed. You are going to retaliate on behalf of those innocent Muslims and on behalf of the Mujahideen leaders who were killed by the Americans. They are in an alliance with the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF). The base serves to protect the Kenyan invaders and train their forces. That is where you are headed. Therefore, you will engage the Americans directly in a close combat.”

Abu Ubaydah then prioritizes the targets for the attackers after they enter the base:

When you reach the base, know that your mission, which the Muslims are waiting for you to accomplish, is to kill the American forces present there and finish off their wounded. Your mission is to destroy and set ablaze the equipment and military hardware present in the base. There are many military aircraft in the base and you will be shown a visual evidence of them. We will confront the Americans who are flying above us now in their own base. Yes, you will encounter many military aircraft in the base and destroying them should be your primary objective. If you used to hide from those planes under the trees, you will soon target them in their airfield. The blaze of the burning aircraft should be visible to all the people in Lamu and we will watch it through the lens of Al-Kataib Foundation. Beware of leaving anything intact. Target the military aircraft in particular and proceed according to priority. Your first priority is to destroy the aircraft in the base, and then followed by the armored military vehicles and storage facilities.”


Al-Shabab leader Abu Ubaydah (left, face blurred) handing the "flag of monotheism" to the commander of the raid, Ahmad Al-Muhajir

Abu Ubaydah rallies his fighters, hailing them as “soldiers of Allah” and saying that many other jihad fighters will follow in their path:

“I hope that base becomes the place where we hear the defeat of the disbelievers, where you attain your martyrdom and that this operation soothes the hearts of the Muslims. Know that other military detachments will come after you, by the permission of Allah. Your blood will draw other Mujahideen to the cause, like a magnet... Allah will defeeat the enemy and protect the religion through your blood... Are the disbelievers able to penetrate the Wilaayaat [the Somali territories controlled by Al-Shabab] and abduct the teachers? No, they cannot, because there are Mujahideen fighters in front of them...”

Abu Ubaydah encourages Muslims, especially those in the Horn of Africa, to join the ranks of his group: “We tell the Muslims living in the lands of Kufr, particularly the youth in East Africa, that it is obligatory upon you to make Hijra [to immigrate to a Muslim land, i.e. to join Al-Shabab] and wage Jihad. On whom do you entrust the responsibility of defending your religion, preserving the honour of Muslim women and fighting the enemies of Islam? How is it acceptable to any Muslim with a conscience that young disbelieving men of your age plunder your wealth, violate your dignity, and send to prison whomever they will among you whenever they will and torture him? It is only through Jihad that you can regain your honour and dignity, as well as a pleasant life in both this world and the hereafter and a justification in front of Allah. Therefore, rise and stand up for Jihad. Emulate your brothers who made Hijra before you and sacrificed their lives for the sake of Allah...”


Drone footage of burning aircraft in Camp Simba

He concludes his exhortations with a prayer: “O Allah kill the disbelievers who are hindering people from Your path and are belying Your messengers and cast upon them Your punishment and torment. O Allah kill the disbelievers from the people of the Book...” This segment is followed by a scene in which Abu Ubaydah is seen handing the “flag of tawhid[3] [which symbolizes the Islamic concept of monotheism] to the commander of the operation, Ahmad Al-Muhajir, who states: “By the will of Allah, this banner will not be raised in any other place other than the American base in Manda Bay...”

The video then shows original footage of the attack which Al-Shabab filmed with drones, against a backdrop of audio from Al-Qaeda cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki and the commander of the U.S. military’s AFRICOM. The footage shows fire and smoke rising from Camp Simba. 

This section is followed by a commemoration of each of the five operatives who participated in the attack, including a short biography and each one’s final message. The common themes among all the messages are threats to “Jews and Americans;” the vow that the attacks in the framework of the "Jerusalem Will Never Be Judaized" campaign will continue; and the reassurance to the Palestinians that Al-Qaeda and Al-Shabab are committed to fighting for the “liberation” of Al-Aqsa, and so on. The fighters all wear red headbands bearing the slogan "Jerusalem Will Never Be Judaized.”


Commander of the raid, Ahmad Al-Muhajir, wearing a red headband with the slogan "Jerusalem Will Never Be Judaized."

For example, in his final message before embarking on the operation, the leader of the raid, Ahmad Al-Muhajir, declares:

“O Jews and Americans! Do not think that we are wearing these headbands for adornment or for exhibition purposes only. Know that Al-Quds [Jerusalem] belongs to the Muslims and it will forever belong to the Muslims. It does not belong to filth like you who spread corruption in the land. O America! If you did not learn anything from the operations in 14 Riverside [in Nairobi] and Ballidoogle,[4] then you will now learn a lesson that you did not expect. What is coming your way is not words, it is action, and not just mere action, but rather a great deal of action. Masha-Allah, Allah made it possible for the brothers to carry out the operations in 14 Riverside and Ballidoogle with success. May Allah accept their martyrdom as they proved that they are the brave ones and you are the cowards. Right now, we are on our way to continue in this series of operations and we will not stop there; many other brothers will come after us. By the will of Allah, we will not stop until the Shari’ah rules over the whole world and the Muslims live in a state of glory while you, the Kufr, live in humiliation. Islam will rule over the whole world. The word of Allah will be uppermost and the word of those who disbelieved will be lowermost.”

 

 

[2] Talk.gnews.bz/channel/gimf-al-shabaab, January 29, 2021.

[3] Al-Shabab uses the same flag as the Islamic State (ISIS), as do other Al-Qaeda affiliates in spite of the rivalry between the two groups.

[4] Riverside 14 is a shopping mall in Nairobi attacked by Al-Shabab in January 2019. See MEMRI JTTM Report: Al-Qaeda Affiliate Al-Shabab Claims Responsibility For Terror Attack In Nairobi, January 15, 2019. Ballidoogle is a U.S. base in Somalia. Al-Shabab claimed it attacked the base and killed dozens of U.S. soldiers there. See JTTM Report: Al-Qaeda-Affiliated Somali Group Al-Shabab Claims Attack On Baledogle U.S. Military Base Killed 121 American Soldiers, 'More Than A Dozen' Israeli Forces, Says EU Convoy Attack In Mogadishu Killed Two Senior Commanders, October 3, 2019.

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