Wednesday, May 01, 2013
A scathing letter addressed to al-Shabaab
leader Ahmed Abdi Godane from one of the group's top foreign fighters
has exposed the deepening mistrust and communication breakdown between
various factions within the al-Qaeda-allied organisation.
Little is known about the author -- al-Zubayr al-Muhajir -- but from
the letter it is evident that he is a high ranking official in
al-Shabaab closely connected to the muhajireen (foreign fighters).
In the letter, al-Muhajir explains how Godane, also known as Mukhtar
Abu al-Zubayr, appointed him as a member of al-Shabaab's Shura Council
and as chairman of a special sharia court that mediated between Godane
and movement's other top three leaders -- Ibrahim al-Afghani (whose real
name is Ibrahim Haji Jama Meeaad and is also known as Abu Bakr
al-Zaylai), Sheikh Mukhtar Robow Ali (or Abu Mansur) and Fuad Mohamed
In al-Muhajir's 12-page letter, which was posted on several jihadist
websites on April 20th and titled "Yes, there are problems", he said his
purpose in writing the letter was to "relieve myself in front of God
and the nation of all the aggressions and legal violations committed by
some of us [... and to] warn all lovers of jihad among the muhajireen
inside or outside the country that the situation is not as it is
depicted by the movement".
Communication breakdown within al-Shabaab
Al-Muhajir explained that he resorted to posting an open letter on
the internet because all other means of communication had failed.
Several months ago he said he had passed along a message to Godane
through members of the Shura Council "to clarify some issues relating to
the arrest of some mujahedeen brothers with no clear charges while
their families do not know anything about their situation or even their
place of detention".
After not receiving a reply, al-Muhajir said he went to a mosque
where al-Shabaab officials were to speak to the "mujahedeen and Muslims
and warn them of the dire consequences of our sins and vices, fearing
that they, along with other aggressions, would be the reasons for
defeat", but was stopped before he could finish and banned from the
According to the letter, al-Muhajir tried to then set up a
face-to-face meeting with Godane, but was refused, and then finally
tried to meet with the official Godane appointed to represent the
muhajireen, yet was refused again.
"You did not leave me any other choice," he
wrote referring to Godane, "except to keep silent while seeing the
miserable situation of the mujahedeen and Muslims. This is not
acceptable in sharia."
Pressure mounts on foreign fighters
Al-Muhajir goes on to list a litany of problems facing the muhajireen in Somalia, including:
"Spokesman for the army said that any muhajir who leaves Somalia without permission from [Godane] is considered an apostate."
"You [Godane] have not met for years, even once, with all the
muhajireen to speak with them and check their situation directly with no
"You [Godane] arrest some of the muhajireen without any charges and
you do not tell their families or brothers about their whereabouts or
conditions. You ban any visits for them and reject trying them in front
of a public court."
"You [Godane] took a secret decision not to receive the muhajireen
coming from abroad, whether individuals or families, but you did not
declare this decision ... and they would travel and suffer the
difficulties of emigration, only to end up either not participating in
jihad or in the prisons of the infidels."
"You arrested some of the muhajireen, accusing them of following the
apostates. In spite of the decision of the secret court that proved
their innocence, they are still treated like criminals. You have
banished some to the lands of infidels while you are hunting down the
Al-Muhajir even accused al-Shabaab security officials of raping the
wives of muhajireen who left to go to the frontlines. He explained that
in one instance, a muhajir official submitted a rape complaint against
an al-Shabaab member to one of Godane's officials who "insisted that he
concede and withdraw the complaint. The brother found that this is an
obstruction of God's judgments, so he fled the country out of fear."
"Some of the foreigners have been tortured to death in your secret
prisons and you have not prosecuted your security members who have
committed such crimes," al-Muhajir continued.
Al-Muhajir concluded his letter by saying, "This is the situation of
the foreigners, oh Emir, and if you are unaware of this situation, then
this is a calamity, and if you do know this, it is an even greater
"Do not oppress people even if you could, because most of the time,
injustice leads to regret. You will sleep while the oppressed will stay
awake praying for God to avenge him. God does not forsake the