MOGADISHU, Sept 8, (Agencies): Al-Qaeda has backed the new Islamist chief of Somalia’s Shebab insurgents after his predecessor was killed in a US air strike last week, according to a statement broadcast Monday on Shebab radio. “Our prayers also go to the new Emir, Ahmad Umar Abu Ubaidah to gain strength to continue the jihad of brother Abu Zubayr,” the unsigned statement said from the Yemen-based branch of the extremist franchise, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The statement, which could not be independently verified, was broadcast repeatedly on the Shebab’s official Radio Andalus.
Ahmed Abdi Godane, also often known as Abu Zubayr, was killed by a US air strike last week. He was a ruthless kingpin of Al-Qaeda’s main African affiliate. It offered its “condolences” for Godane’s death. “He met Allah as he wished, and we pray that he is accommodated well for his relentless jihad,” the statement read. “Prayers are with him, that his martyrdom be accepted by Allah for his defence of Islam and Muslims.” The Shebab, who named Abu Ubaidah as leader in a statement on Saturday, also renewed a pledge of allegiance to Al- Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s successor.
The statement vowed revenge for the killing of Godane. “You will feel the pain soon and there will be an accountability in days coming, each one has his own days,” it added. Very little is known about Abu Ubaidah, a hardliner who had reportedly been close to Godane, and who had overseen the group’s transformation from local insurgency to major regional guerrilla threat. Meanwhile, Rebels of the Somali Islamist group al- Shabaab have pledged allegiance to their new leader after his predecessor was killed and said their enemies would reap the “bitter fruits” of revenge after Ahmed Godane’s killing, a spokesman said. Al-Shabaab confirmed that Godane was killed by a US air strike in a raid last Monday and said Sheikh Ahmed Umar Abu Ubaida would replace him to head the group, which wants to impose its strict version of Islam on Somalia. In a statement on Saturday, al- Shabaab also reaffirmed its allegiance to al-Qaeda and promised revenge for Godane’s killing.
The government, trying to rebuild a nation torn by more than two decades of conflict, has said it could face retaliation. “We, the al-Shabaab mujahideen (fighters), give allegiance to our new leader, Sheikh Ahmed Umar Abu Ubaida,” Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, spokesman for al-Shabaab’s military operations, said in a recorded statement. He was speaking in an audio statement posted on Monday on two websites, radioalfurqaan.com and somalimemo. net. Both sites are wellknown in Somalia for publishing news about militants. “The mujahideen built by the martyred Sheikh Abu Zubayr (Godane) is a massive force that stands for the defence of Muslims, particularly in east Africa,” he said, adding the fighters were “swords in the hands of our new leader”. “The enemies who have spread themselves onto the land will soon reap the bitter fruits they have sown,” he said, in an apparent reference to the African peacekeeping force AMISOM which has deployed against al- Shabaab in Somalia.