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New Islamic State Somalia Video Shows Group Lacks Weapons Capacity of More Powerful Al-Shabaab
In the latest Islamic State (IS) weekly newsletter, al-Naba (issue 349), a rare announcement was made about an upcoming official video about IS in Somalia. According to jihadism researcher Daniele Garofalo, “this is the second time that the release of a video has been announced first in [al-Naba] and not through its channels.” The first was a recent video production on Islamic State fighters in Iraq.
The Islamic State has been formally operating in Somalia since 2015, and IS central leadership and media are continuing their efforts to promote the group and bolster its profile. The video was released on July 30, is about 25 minutes long, and is in Arabic and Amharic.
Garofalo notes “the importance IS gives to Ethiopia, with the use of Amharic, the historical comparison between Somali Muslims and the Christians of Abyssinia, and the use of Ethiopian speakers/fighters.” In terms of context, he says “this is interesting because in recent weeks its rival al-Shabaab has often attacked Ethiopian forces and crossed the artificial Somalia-Ethiopia border.” Garofalo adds that the Islamic State’s production of “such a long and well-crafted video is a sign of significant investment on the part of IS Central” and IS Somalia leader Abdulaqadir Mumin “has the experience and skills to grow them, and Somalia offers great opportunities.”
Despite its ambitions, the Islamic State in Somalia is still fairly limited in terms of its weapons capacity and offensive capabilities. In the training footage included in the video, the combatants can be seen using very basic and common weapons.
The vast majority of fighters are shown using the Type 56 and Type 56-1 assault rifle, which are basically Chinese clones of AKM and AKMS rifles and are extremely common in the region.
In addition to these weapons, the militants also appear to have the Type 69 RPG Launcher and an early model PK general-purpose machine gun.
Below, an RPG launcher is loaded with a PG-7VM or PG-7VS projectile.
The video also shows the Islamic State’s recruitment process in Somalia.
As seen in the photos below, militants are also making a political statement by shooting at pictures of US President Joe Biden and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed during their training.
When assessing the displayed weapons capacity of the Islamic State in Somalia, the group’s hardware is not comparable to that belonging to the Al-Qaeda branch Al-Shabaab, which has the largest and most effective arsenal in the region.
The Islamic State's armament contains fewer weapons than that of Al-Shabaab, and they have much less weapon variety. This, however, is to be expected as Al-Shabaab has a longer history in the region and is a much larger force than IS’s Somalia branch.