New video shows Al-Shabaab leader dispatching fighters to AU military base
MOGADISHU, Somalia - The Al-Shabaab militants have released a new video purportedly of its leader Ahmed Umar alias Abu Ubaidah, the Emir who is on the US list of most wanted terrorists, allegedly addressing fighters in an undisclosed location just moments before the deadly attack on a Ugandan military base in Somalia.
Last week, an estimated number of over 800 Al-Shabaab militants ransacked Bulo Marer Forward Operating Base in southern Somalia, killing several soldiers who were on duty. This was the first single-largest attack on a military base by Al-Shabaab since 2017 when they raided Kenya Defence Forces [KDF] base in Kulbiyow.
The face of Abu Ubaidah in the video appears blurred as a customary practice whenever he addresses his fighters and is heard sending the militants to raid the base. The video comes a few days after the militants released a similar one in which he insisted that the operations against the group had "fatally failed".
Also appearing in the footage which was taken in an undisclosed sending-off forest area, are al-Shabaab cleric Sheikh Jama Abdisalam and top official Hassan Yaqub. The video also suggests that five suicide bombers [at least one of them a foreigner] detonated VBIEDs at the base at the UPDF base.
Uganda President Yoweri Museveni revealed that at least 54 Uganda People's Defense Forces [UPDF] soldiers were killed while insisting that the group will "regret their actions". The veteran leader also said two commanders would face a court martial for ordering the troops to "run away".
Al-Shabaab maintains that over 137 soldiers were killed in the incident while the group's third in command Mahad Karate claimed over 200 lost their lives. According to preliminary reports, a total of 221 soldiers were in the base when the group invaded, but a number of them managed to run to a nearby UPDF base.
The attack came just a day before the US Africa Command confirmed injured the group's external operations coordinator Moalim Osman, who is said to be the head of recruitment of foreign fighters in the country. Moalim is believed to be the man organizing attacks in foreign lands besides targeting mission troops in the country.
Currently, there are close to 22,000 peacekeeping soldiers in the country drawn from Kenya, Djibouti, Uganda, Burundi, and Ethiopia but the number will be slashed by the end of this month in compliance with Somali Transition Plan [STP]. Already, 2000 soldiers have been earmarked for exit according to African Union.
Abu Ubaidah has over $10 million bounty on his head and has often evaded the dragnet, but to date, his whereabouts remain a mystery.
The Emir took over from Ahmed Godan, the Emir who was killed in a US-coordinated airstrike in Somalia in 2014, leading to succession wrangles in the group.