ISIS fast growing in numbers in Somalia is further compounding threat levels in the horn of Africa nation.
Experts have warned of ISIS growing and successfully establishing presence in Somalia. The group seem to be benefitting from the fighters fleeing its collapsing stronghold in Iraq and Syria.
ISIS which primarily began operations in northern Somalia continue to grow and maintain active cells in areas firstly perceived as Al-Shabaab’s strongholds.
The jihadist group’s growth in about three years since splitting away from Al-Shabaab is not only threatening counterterrorism operations in Somalia but its also threatening the Al-Qaeda branch survivability to sustain its insurgency in Somalia while losing its fighters to ISIS faction.
ISIS Influence in Somalia
For more than a decade Al-Shabaab has been the sole jihadist group in Somalia and has sought the establish Islamic Shariah rule in the country. In October 2015, a small faction of Al-Shabaab split away from the parent group to form the Islamic State, Somalia faction.
Led by Abdulqadir Mumin, a former Al-Shabaab regional commander, the pro-ISIS faction in Somalia began operating in mountainous Bari region of Puntland. Barely three years down, the Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s faction now has extended foothold in El-Adde, El-Wak, Buale, Gododwe, Jiliib, Salagle, Saakow, Afgoye and Mogadishu.
The small pro-ISIS cells that have been reported in Al-Shabaab’s southern Somalia stronghold are tasked with conducting sporadic attacks and to recruit more members.
ISIS is known to employ heinous, crude methods including crucifixions and beheadings; styles that Al-Shabaab is trying to copy in an effort to remain famous.
ISIS faction in Somalia is getting more traction than Al-Shabaab. The appeal more ideologically and subsequently attracting both local and foreign fighters.
Recently, U.S. Department of Justice announced that it arrested three U.S citizens originally from Kenya but living in Michigan for trying to embark on journey to join ISIS in Somalia.
This signals of increasing pro-ISIS influence in Somalia. The jihadist group that started with about 20 fighters now is believed to have between 200-300 fighters.