Al-Shabaab calls for attacks on Djibouti to host Western interests
MOGADISHU, Somalia – Al-Shabaab could carry out deadly attacks in Djibouti, the Horn of Africa, where the United States and France have unlimited influence ahead of the long-awaited election in the Red Sea country, which hosts the U.S. Africa Command Team.
Ahmed Omar Abu Ubaydah accused Djibouti in the latest sound broadcast by Al-Shabaab’s allied media houses, Djibouti, of turning the country into a military base, “from which any war against Muslims in East Africa is planned.”
Although he did not specify how to construct Al-Shabaab attacks in Djibouti, Abu Ubaydah asked young people in the country to “conduct individual solitary wolf martyrdom operations” to deport Frenchmen and Americans. “
“Make US and French interests in Djibouti the highest priority for your targets,” said al-Shabab Media, as reported by Voice of America.
Abu Ubaidah said his group was ready to offer “safe haven” and “prepare and train” those willing to migrate from Djibouti if they could not meet the “individual commitment to jihad.”
The U.S. Africa Command has a base in Djibouti, from which troops are prepared and deployed to strategic locations in support of Allied governments. Somalia has been the recipient of the US command program, but the troops withdrew this year.
Colonel Christopher Karns, a spokesman for the U.S. African Command, told VOA Somali that the U.S. African Command is aware of the recent audio release from al-Shabab calling for attacks on U.S. and French interests in Djibouti.
“The US Africa Command takes these statements seriously,” Karns said.
“Al-Shabab remains a persistent threat to US interests in East Africa. That is why it remains important to put continued pressure on the al-Shabab network and isolate the threat it poses to the region and beyond, ”he added.
The United States ended the withdrawal of most troops from nearby Somalia in January following an order from then-President Donald Trump.
The number of U.S. military personnel in Somalia ranged from 650 to 800 people. US troops supported and guided an elite Somali unit known as the Danab “lightning” brigade.
The U.S. military has also launched airstrikes on al-Shabab. There have been no confirmed strikes in Somalia since President Joe Biden took office. Earlier this month, Somali military officials expressed concern over the reduction of strikes against al-Shabab, which they fear could give the militant group further impetus.
Karns said air strikes are still an option.
“We do not want to telegraph actions or our intentions. It would not be in al-Shabab’s best interest to encourage a response from us, “he said. “We remain committed to security in East Africa and are made to respond to threats.”
Al-Shabab previously attacked Djibouti on May 24, 2014 in a double suicide bombing at a restaurant that Westerners visited and killed three people.
Djibouti voters go to the polls on April 9 for the presidential election. The current incumbent Ismail Omar Guelleh is seeking a fifth term. Djibouti officials could not be immediately reached for comment on the new threat.
Djibouti has a military contingent serving as part of the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia.