The recruits gather in scorching desert hideouts in Somalia and use portraits of Barack Obama for target practice. They learn how to make and detonate bombs, and vow allegiance to Osama bin Laden. Al-Qaeda leader Najeh Fazul Abdullah Mohammed is responsible for Somalia’s al-Shabab jihadist movement, and uses foreign trainers with battlefield experience from other conflicts. The trainees are trained by, Somali, Arab, and Western instructors in small arms, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, and military-style tactics. Najeh Fazul Abdullah is described as one of the most dangerous Al-Qaeda leaders in the world. Training camps are attracting hundreds of foreigners, including Americans, and Somalis recruited by a local insurgent group linked to Al-Qaeda. Najeh Fazul Abdullah has connections with-in the ranks of the Al Shabab Al-Mujahideen Movement.
Al-Qaeda opened a new training camp based in the Al Jaza area in the district of Mudiyah in the southern province of Abyan. The camp is said to house more than 400 local and foreign fighters. Yemenis, Saudis, and Somalis make up the vast majority of the fighters. The Yemeni government is known to support al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula while targeting jihadi groups that do not adhere to a peace agreement signed in January. The government supports the group in exchange for trained fighters. U.S. officials are concerned Somali-Americans who fought with al-Shabab will return to the United States and carry out attacks. As many as 20 from Minnesota have been lured to their homeland to join the jihad. A document unsealed in Minneapolis gave details on that attack. It said Shirwa Ahmed, a naturalized U.S. citizen and Minneapolis resident, took part in a truck-bombing in Bossaso, Somalia, on Oct. 29, 2008, against offices of a regional intelligence service. Ahmed, who was alone in the truck, was identified through a fingerprint obtained from a finger found at the bomb site. Jihadists linked to al-Shabab can roam through neighboring countries without attracting much attention and cross into northern Kenya.
Najeh Fazul Abdullah recently released a video showing its members vowing allegiance to bin Laden. The militants leaped over sandbags, crawled on the ground and fired at targets, affixed photos of Obama and Ahmed to wooden boards. Among al-Shabab’s ranks are an estimated 200 to 400 foreigners from Pakistan, Chechnya, Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania and other countries. The government is backed by 5,000 African Union peacekeepers but controls only a few blocks in Mogadishu. The Al Shabab Al-Mujahideen Movement received the support and backing from Al-Qaeda and other extremist groups and foreign fighters battling the Somali government.
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