The Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab has acquired weapons from the Yemeni-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), a Somali official told VOA News.
Ten ships filled with weapons from al-Qaida set sail recently from the coast of Yemen, but the Yemeni government intercepted two of them.
Hussein Haji Ahmed, the Somali consul in Yemen, said that he thinks the remaining ships successfully sailed across the Gulf of Aden and reached part of the Somali coast controlled by al-Shabaab.
The news confirms fears of collaboration between al-Shabaab and al-Qaida's Yemeni branch expressed during a recent House hearing held by Rep. Peter King, R.-N.Y.
"There are growing concerns that al-Shabaab in Somalia is linking up with al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen to better train these radicalized young men in order to attack Americans around the world, as well as launch attacks against our homeland," King said.
"Shabaab's most senior leaders, including its founders, have longstanding ties to al Qaeda," hearing witness Thomas Joscelyn, a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, said in written testimony. Witnesses agreed that al-Shabaab poses a "direct threat to the U.S."
Al-Shabaab's foreign support isn't limited to AQAP, indicating that the group has a growing support network in the region.
A recent United Nations report found that members of the Kenyan Muslim Youth Centre (MYC) "openly engage in recruiting for al-Shabaab in Kenya and facilitate travel to Somalia for individuals to train and fight for 'jihad' in Somalia."
MYC Chairman Ahmad Iman Ali, the report said, moved to Somalia in 2009 and has recruited a force of 200-500 fighters there. The Kenyan group also publishes a weekly bulletin that includes al-Shabaab and al-Qaida support material.
Eritrea, which is separated from Somalia's northern border only by the small African country of Djibouti, also has been accused of aiding the Somali terrorist group.
A UN report released in July said that Eritrea has been funneling $80,000 a month to al-Shabaab through its embassy in Kenya. Ethiopian Justice Minister Berhane Hailu claimed there is concrete evidence of Eritrea's al-Shabaab support. Eritrea denies the claims.