An increasingly vocal Islamist group says its leader has been appointed to represent an al-Qaeda-linked Somali militia in Kenya, a development that underscores the dangers Kenya faces from Somalia's insurgency.
The statement by the Kenya-based Muslim Youth Center came amid a flurry of warnings from embassies about planned terror attacks in Kenya. The Somali militant group al-Shabab has promised to attack Kenya for its decision to send troops to Somalia in October.
The Muslim Youth Center was named in a UN report last year for recruiting, fundraising, and running training and orientation events for al-Shabab. An official al-Shabab spokesman did not answer questions about whether the center now represents al-Shabab in Kenya, but a statement posted on the centre's blog on Wednesday was unequivocal.
"There can be no doubt that Amiir Ahmad Iman Ali's elevation to become the supreme Amiir of Kenya for al Shabaab is recognition from our Somali brothers who have fought tirelessly against the kuffar on the importance of the Kenyan mujahideen in Somalia," the statement said. The word kuffar appears to be an alternative spelling of kafir, an Arabic word meaning "unbeliever."
Ali was featured in combat fatigues giving a 50-minute lecture in a Jan. 6 video produced by al-Kataib, al-Shabab's media foundation. He referred to wars in Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq and Chechnya. It was the first time an al-Kataib video was dedicated solely to his message, according to SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors communications from jihadi groups.