Islamic State Calls for Al-Shabaab to Pledge Allegiance

The Islamic State released yet another video, this time calling on al-Shabaab to join their campaign for global jihad. The video features several jihadists quoting passages from the Quran and inspiring Somali Muslims to ally with the Islamic State.

The purpose of this video is not to highlight an act of terror, as in previous videos, but instead is used as an invitation, calling for African jihadists to join the Islamic State. It was produced in the same professional style as the other videos and begins by introducing the men that will be speaking.

The most prominent speaker is Taymullah al-Somali. Taymullah is a Somalia-born, Dutch national who reportedly joined the Islamic State in early 2014. Because he is blind, he has been used as a propaganda poster-child. The Islamic State has used him on social media to rally individuals by claiming that if a blind man could travel to Syria to fight, then anyone can.

Throughout the video there are flashes of images and clips from the slaughter of the 21 Coptic Christians that occurred early in 2015. Taymullah claims that the Coptic Christians were murdered for the Somali Muslims, who he states have been oppressed.

The individuals in the video praise al-Shabaab for its commitment to fighting in the name of Allah and continuing to mercilessly attack those who do not share their ideology. Taymullah mentions countries where jihadists are already fighting on the Islamic State’s behalf: “Nigeria, the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen, and Egypt”. Nigeria is a reference to Boko Haram, which refers to itself as Islamic State in West Africa. Boko Haram had initially been allied to al-Qaeda before pledging allegiance to the Islamic State.

Near the end of the video, Taymullah makes a clear call for merging of Somali Islamists with the Islamic State. In Somalia, al-Shabaab is the primary Islamist terror group. Al-Shabaab previously pledged allegiance with al-Qaeda, but its younger members have expressed interest in joining the Islamic State. Taymullah states “Rush and make the religion’s enemies furious by uniting the ranks of the Muslims”. The Islamic State is pressuring al-Shabaab into pledging allegiance.

This video indicates that al-Shabaab will join the Islamic State in the coming months. There has already been interest from al-Shabaab jihadists, and now a direct invitation from the Islamic State makes the merging of these two groups inevitable.

It cannot be assumed that because al-Shabaab is allied with al-Qaeda that it won’t switch allegiances. The direct invitation to join will at the very least inspire individual jihadists from al-Shabaab to go fight on behalf of Islamic State, and if al-Shabaab determines the caliphate legitimate, then the entire terror organization will pledge allegiance.

This video marks a change in the Islamic State’s style. Rather than solely calling on individuals, an entire terror organization is being called upon to join. However, this video is still directed at a global audience. If the Islamic State wanted to coerce al-Shabaab into joining, they could have done so without spending the time and money on creating this video. The use of the video allowed the Islamic State to spread more propaganda and target a global audience, while still pressuring al-Shabaab to pledge allegiance.