Sheikh Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansour, a top official in the Somali al-Shabaab militia, today announced plans for the organization to send fighters across the Gulf of Aden to Yemen to take part in jihad there.
The al-Shabaab faction is one of the more hardline of various factions vying for control of Somalia, was presenting hundreds of new recruits at a rally in northern Mogadishu, and said that Yemeni factions should “be ready for our welcome.”
The US has made clear their intentions to dramatically escalate their ongoing but heretofore covert war in Yemen, and as the nation has made enemies with its years of on-again off-again meddling in Somalia, al-Shabaab seems eager to cash in on anti-American sentiment by focusing on Yemen. This is an unusual move for the group, however, which generally does not operate outside of Somalia.
The Canadian government was the first to react to the announcement, saying that their anti-piracy warship in the Gulf of Aden would stand ready to stop any Shabaab crossings to Yemen. Since Yemen is a popular destination for refugees from the various nations along the Horn of Africa, it may not be easy to determine who is a militant and who is merely a refugee.
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