The Somali terrorist group Hizbul Islam [HI] has folded to its rival, designated terrorist organization al-Shabaab, after losing ground in Somalia for the past two years. The realignment brings together two former branches of another State Department designated terror group Al Ittihad Al Islami, which splintered and was crushed in the late 1990s.
"We, the Islamic party, have decided to join Al Shabaab both militarily and principally and the reason is, we want to combine our force and fight against the forces of the transitional government and those of the African union," announced Hizbul Islam spokesman Mohamed Osman Arus.
Members of al-Shabaab have taken up Hizbul Islam's former positions in and around Mogadishu, while the leadership positions of HI will disappear into the infrastructure of al-Shabaab. For HI's former leader, specially designated terrorist Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, has joined al-Shabaab.
The move puts additional pressure on Somalia's weak but internationally recognized Transitional Federal Government [TFG], which is now surrounded by the unified group in the nation's capital, Mogadishu. The TFG is supported by troops from the African Union, whose constituent nations have been struck by al-Shabaab revenge attacks.
Al-Shabaab has also focused intensely on recruitment from the Somali Diaspora around the world, with a leading member of the organization coming from America. In the U.S., al-Shabaab has recruited more than 20 Somali youth from the city of Minneapolis alone. Law enforcement has also focused intensely on breaking the group's fundraising and support system in America.
Al-Shabaab recruitment is a worldwide problem, with youth joining the fight from places as distant as Sweden and Kenya.