Ayman al-Zawahiri gave “glad tidings” that al-Shabaab had joined forces, according to the translation of the 15-minute video by the Site Intelligence group.
“Today, I have glad tidings for the Muslim Ummah that will please the believers and disturb the disbelievers, which is the joining of the Shabaab al-Mujahideen Movement in Somalia to Qaedat al-Jihad, to support the jihadi unity against the Zio-Crusader campaign and their assistants amongst the treacherous agent rulers,” he said.
Al-Shabab leaders pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda in the past, releasing a video in 2009 called At Your Service Osama!
But the new video – posted on an Islamic forum – is the first formal welcoming of al-Shabaab by al-Zawahiri. Somalia’s al-Shabaab militia is a mix of conscripts, paid fighters, clan militias and fanatics. It counts a few hundred foreign fighters among its ranks.
Most al-Shabaab fighters are drawn from other East African nations but a few have travelled from Britain, Sweden, the US, Pakistan and Chechnya.