Somali al Qaeda affiliate al Shabaab has released a new video calling for Muslims to engage in “tourism” in “the land of Islam,” consisting of killing kufr (infidels) and eating exotic animals. The jihadis show off their latest catch, a butchered giraffe.
The video, titled “From the Frontlines 3: The Tourism of My Ummah is Jihad,” encourages Muslims to give up their lives in the West and move into the dense jungles prairies of Somalia, where al Shabaab is based. The video includes propaganda in both English and Arabic and quotes al Qaeda leaders who have claimed that jihad is a way for Muslims to live closer to nature.
The Long War Journal notes that the title of the video is taken from a hadith allegedly spoken by Muhammad: “The tourism of my nation [ummah] is jihad.” The men speaking in the video promote the ease with which they can find food, through the hunting of endangered animals. In one scene, a group of jihadis is shown butchering a giraffe. “As you can see our brothers here get injured to ease our journey, Allah has granted us this great reward; a giraffe,” a man says into the camera, adding, “‘Alhamdulillah [praise be to God] there is no shortage of meat here. It’s a great blessing from Allah.”
“Come to the land of Islam!” the man orders.
Other scenes show men enjoying swimming on a beach, navigating a river, and fishing.
The Long War Journal also identifies some white, potentially British, terrorists among the group. Some men speak to each other in British-accented English, indicating a willingness to accept foreign fighters.
The Journal also identifies some of the men whose audio sermons are used to narrate the nature footage. One of those men is Abdullah Azzam, described as “the spiritual mentor of Osama bin Laden,” who encourages jihad as “an entertaining journey of tourism and hunting. You eat, drink, sleep and hunt for free!”
Another senior Al Qaeda leader’s voice also appears in the video, indicating that the leadership of Al Shabaab remains tied to the group. Al Shabaab has historically been tied to Al Qaeda, but recent reports have indicated that some of its membership has defected to the Islamic State (ISIS), itself formerly Al Qaeda in Iraq. At least one faction within Al Shabaab, led by Sheikh Abdulqadir Mumin, has reportedly switched sides.
That report surfaced after members of Boko Haram, the Nigerian jihadist group now calling itself Islamic State West Africa Province, issued appeals to Al Shabaab to renounce Al Qaeda and join ISIS. Boko Haram had been a previously unaffiliated jihadist group presenting only a regional threat to northeastern Nigeria, and has since expanded its terrorist activities into Niger, Chad, and Cameroon.
The rift within Al Shabaab comes at a time during which ISIS and Al Qaeda appear closer than ever due to a common enemy: Russia. In an audio message released this week, Al Qaeda boss Ayman al-Zawahiri urged Al Qaeda jihadists to work alongside ISIS in Iraq and Syria against Russian airstrikes intended to strengthen the regime of Alawite Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Leadership in Al Qaeda, ISIS, and religious leaders in Saudi Arabia have all called for a jihad against the Putin government.
How that will impact jihadist activity in Africa remains to be seen. Al Shabaab has increased its activity in the past few days, attacking a hotel in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, on Sunday and engaging in a prolonged firefight with Ethiopian troops Tuesday night into Wednesday.