Al-Shabaab Criticizes Nairobi's Foreign Policy, Threatens Further Violence in Kenya
On August 27, al-Shabaab released a statement titled “Kenya at crossroads”, scorning Nairobi for its foreign policy, particularly its military intervention in Somalia. The group says with a new president coming into office, Kenyans “once again have the chance of reviewing their foreign policy decisions and the implications that come with those decisions; chiefly, their illegitimate invasion of Somalia”.
Al-Shabaab accuses the Kenyan government and presidential candidates of avoiding mention of the deteriorating security situation inside their country and the military operation in Somalia. They assert that Kenyan politicians are “willing to persist in the path of war” to fulfill Western interests. As a result, Kenyan political leaders “put the lives of their citizens at risk”. The group then boasts that the military intervention (they call it an “invasion”) in Somalia, which began 11 years ago, has failed to achieve the initial goals. They allege that Kenyan troops are unable to even leave their bases. And since Kenya cannot carry out effective counter-insurgency operations, al-Shabaab has been able to expand and increase attacks inside of Kenya.
Nairobi is then accused of silencing the media through pressure to not talk about their failure in Somalia. Al-Shabaab says the Kenyan government hides the death toll of their troops in Somalia, and that the soldiers killed in Somalia remain unknown and unaccounted for in unmarked graves. Additionally, Kenyan prisoners of war are abandoned in captivity.
However, al-Shabaab boasts that the Kenyan efforts to hide their “defeat” in Somalia have failed. They say the war has “reshaped Kenyan history and endangered its national security”, and that the African country is now “more vulnerable to attacks than it was in 2011”. For the jihadists, Kenyan operations to destroy it “have proven to be largely unsuccessful”.
The communiqué proceeds to raise some typical jihadist grievances, accusing the Kenyan soldiers of “continuing to massacre innocent Muslims, killing their livestock, raping their women, destroying their towns and villages and plundering their resources”. The group does not only talk about the Kenyan presence in Somalia but also about the “persecution” of Muslims inside of Kenya. Al-Shabaab accuses the military of “deliberately targeting young Muslim men and silencing them in the form of abductions, enforced disappearances, extra-judicial killings, and state-perpetrated violence against the Muslims”, under the guise of counterterrorism. The group thus calls upon Kenyan Muslims to respond to those attacks and resist the oppression. And if they cannot do so, then they must emigrate.
The statement is divided into two sections with the latter subtitled “To the incoming government and Kenyan public” in which they issue threats to both government and the public. They state that as long as Kenyan troops have a presence in Somalia, al-Shabaab will continue to strike inside of Kenya. They ask if any of the candidates will “bring long-term stability” by withdrawing Kenyan troops from Somalia.
Shabaab closes by vowing to “strike not only at the occupying forces but also inside the heart of Kenya, by the permission of Allah, until all the Kenyan crusaders are expelled from our Muslim lands, and until Islamic Shari´ah is fully implemented and the religion becomes all for Allah alone”.
They call upon Kenyans to choose wisely since the “inaction or action of them and their government will determine the future of Kenya”.