The Ras Kamboni Brigade, a radical Islamist terror group operating in southern Somalia, has joined al-Shabaab and pledged loyalty to Al Qaeda. The brigade has ended its ties with Hizbul Islam, a jihadist group formed 13 months ago whose leader has been linked with al Qaeda.
"We have agreed to join the international jihad of al Qaeda," al-Shabaab and Ras Kamboni said in a joint statement signed by brigade founder and leader Hassan Turki and al-Shabaab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane. "We have also agreed to unite al Shabaab and Kamboni mujahideen to liberate the Eastern and Horn of Africa which are under the feet of the minority Christians."
The groups pledged to revive the mujahideen "to stop the war created by the colonizers, and to prevent the attacks of the Christians who invaded our country."
The Ras Kamboni Brigade was founded by Turki, a former senior leader in the Islamic Courts Union. The brigade is estimated to have between 500 and 1,000 fighters.
Bill Roggio of the Long War Journal reports that "Turki operates terrorist training camps in southern Somalia and was likely the target of a U.S. airstrike in March 2008. He is known to train suicide bombers in camps that are dotted along the southern border with Kenya."
Turki's decision is a blow to Hizbul Islam. The group is led by Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, who last September called for suicide attacks in Somalia – just days after suicide bombers struck an African Union base in Mogadishu.
Al-Shabaab has been successful in recruiting young Somalis in America to sneak out of the country to join their jihad. The Investigative Project on Terrorism explored that connection here and here.