The video opens and closes with the singing of a nasheed and features three foreign fighters who exhort Muslim's to join the jihad not only in Somalia but elsewhere in the world in places such as Afghanistan and Mali. While two of these foreign fighters are Kenyan - Abu Seyf al-Kenyi and Abu Khaled al-Kenyi - it will be the presence of another fighter identified as Abu Ahmed al-Amriki that is likely to spark the most interest among observers of al-Shabaab. It is possible that what we are witnessing in this video is an attempt by al-Shabaab to move on from the public relations disaster that followed its breakdown of relations with Omar Hamammi aka Abu Mansour al-Amriki and rebuild its image and reputation as jihadist group open to foreign fighters to join.
This message comes at a critical time for al-Shabaab which continues to suffer the loss of towns and territory that it has long held under its control. While recent defeats have certainly damaged the image and military capabilities of the Islamist group it is also important to remember that such losses were experienced by the ICU in 2006 and that almost all of these recent successes have been won through the use of AMISOM troops, armour and air-power. In the absence of these foreign forces and their fire-power it is highly unlikely that the Somali government and its allied militias would be able to maintain these gains. If al-Shabaab can successfully maintain its insurgency and outlast the presence of AMISOM the group may still have a chance to revive its fortunes and reassert control over much, if not all of southern and central Somalia.
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