On Thursday, a video produced by as-Sahab, al-Qaeda's media wing, was posted to jihadi internet forums in which leader Ayman al-Zawahiri formally accepts the Somali Islamist group al-Shabaab into the terrorist organization.
According to a translation provided by SITE Intelligence Group to the AP, the Egyptian-born al-Qaeda leader wished the Somali group glad tidings on its accession into the global jihadist organization. Today, I have glad tidings for the Muslim Ummah that will please the believers and disturb the disbelievers, said al-Zawahiri, which is the joining of the Shabaab al-Mujahideen Movement in Somalia to Qaedat al-Jihad, to support the jihadi unity against the Zio-Crusader campaign and their assistants amongst the treacherous agent rulers.
The Somali group al-Shabaab has pledged its allegience to al-Qaeda in 2009, and the late leader Osama bin Laden gave the group his sign of approval in a video posted in the same year, but this is the first time the two groups have formally announced their merger. The video also featured former al-Shabaab emir Mukhtar Abu Zubeyr, a veteran of the Afghan Jihad, pledging allegience to al-Qaeda.
Al-Shabaab emerged in Somalia in 2006 as an offshoot of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), which was defeated by Somalia's internationally-recognized Transitional Federal Government and its Ethiopian allies, who were in turn supported by the United States. (Abu Zubeyr was formerly an official in the ICU.)
The Islamic Courts Union was formed in response to growing warlordism in Mogadishu during the beginning of the twenty-first century, which was widely believed to have been supported by the United States.
Al-Shabaab, which The Nation calls blowback from the United States' anti-ICU stance, is known to be much more militant than its predecessor, and has at various points controlled much of southern Somalia.
The Somali militants keep an active English-language Twitter account, @HSMPress, which frequently spars with the Kenya Defence Forces, which began a campaign in Oct. 2011 to eradicate al-Shabaab, which is said to have kidnapped tourists and aid workers on Kenyan territory.
Below is the 15-minute original Arabic video that was posted to web forums today.