Al-Shabaab leader fires warning at US, threatens revenge
MOGADISHU, Somalia - A senior Al-Shabaab leader has warned the United States following a recent airstrike in remote parts of Somalia, in a rare footage shared by the group's al-Kataib wing which is responsible for the dissemination of news, which has triggered anxiety among security officers in the country.
In the footage, Mahad Karate, accused the US of being a stumbling block in the stabilization of the country, claiming that the US Africa Command has been "unfairly" targeting civilians in the country.
Karate claims Al-Shabaab will revenge against the US following an incident in El-Lahelay on September 6th, where an operation by Somali special forces that killed three al-Shabaab commanders also resulted in the death of five civilians including four children.
“We will avenge the death of our people, however long it takes. You have the watches, we have the time,” Karate said in a recorded video speech published by the group on Friday, a rare footage from the group's high-ranking member in recent times.
Recently, the US Africa Command dismissed claims that it participated in the airstrike, insisting that it only offered "remote" support to the Somali National Army [SNA] which was directly responsible for the operation. The operation left a number of people injured and were rushed to Mogadishu for specialized treatment, US Africa Command noted.
In the same speech, Karate also claimed al-Shabaab attacks on Cowsweyne [Aug 26] and Awdhegle [Sept 10] “destroyed the military, ideological and economic warfare” launched against the group. The Cawsweyne attack remains the most devastating assault on Somali soldiers and to date, the government has yet to disclose the number of casualties.
So injurious was the attack that a number of soldiers started retreating from different frontlines, forcing the military to take action against some of them. The government of Somalia under President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has been pleading with locals to join aggression against the militants.
Karate, who has a $10 bounty on his head by the US, spent most of the work with al-Shabaab in running the intelligence and Amniyat wings of the group. He is from Galmudug State where the ongoing Somali government military operation is focusing, with the government keen to dislodge them.
Insiders say he desperately wanted to become the leader of the group but those who analyzed him think he divides opinions within al-Shabaab ranks, which may have contributed to him missing out on being appointed last time, in September 2014, when former leader Ahmed Abdi Godane was killed in US airstrike.
Karate used to be a mysterious figure who doesn’t appear publicly but in recent years he increasingly opted to show his face and talk on camera. He has also been coordinating the group's Finance department, which raises up to $120 million annually according to records by the State Department.