Soomal: Dispatches from a nomad: Kenya falls victim to ISIS-al Shabaab supremacy wars

A security officer helps evacuate survivors from Dusit Hotel after a terrorist bomb attack on January 15, 2019. Photo/Monicah Mwangi
A security officer helps evacuate survivors from Dusit Hotel after a terrorist bomb attack on January 15, 2019. Photo/Monicah Mwangi

Security sources say a silent competition between Somalia's two rival militant groups, ISIS and al Shabaab, is believed to have prompted the recent terror attacks in Nairobi

A deep desire from the two groups to outwit the other and show their relevance has pushed them to export their terror outside Somalia to capture international attention.

"Kenya has unfortunately fallen victim to Daesh and al Shabaab competition to remain relevant in the region. Al Shabaab took advantage of its Kenyan Muslim reverts to attack their own country and people. There are so many Kenyans in al Shabaab, including very senior commanders," the source, who declined to be named, said.


Al Shabaab, is the oldest gang of the two and was quick to claim the two Nairobi attacks. Its multi-national membership believed to include many Kenyans among its ranks proved vital in aiding al Shabaab to silently execute the attacks under the radar.

The two sides are sworn enemies, who have fought each other before in what is shaping up into a supremacy war for control of millions of US Dollars up for grabs from extortion rackets, the control of the lucrative charcoal business for export to the Middle East, drug smuggling routes and local kingpin in Somalia for whoever outwits the other.

They compete on who is more ruthless and such competition keeps them on tabs to plan more attacks and kill more innocent people. Sadly, this is their main line of business just like contract killers. The more people they kill the more money they get.


ISIS is comprised of mostly foreign and diaspora jihadists who export their terror campaigns by recruiting unsuspecting young Muslims through deep web social media, where they also train their agents of terror through online classes. They are the high-tech savvy terrorists using technology to advance their misplaced ideology. Talk of dot COM terrorists!

Al Shabaab, on the other hand, has set itself as a local player comprised of mostly regional members from Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Comoros and Burundi. It has extensively recruited from those countries. Unlike their main competitors ISIS, al Shabaab physically trains its members inside Somalia in secret facilities.

It morphed out of the once powerful Islamic Courts Union, which controlled much of Somalia in 2006. It was originally the ICU military wing headed by Afghanistan trained Somali militants with direct link to al Qaeda.

When the brains behind al Shabaab started recruiting Kenya youth back then, little did we know their rationale. Even in Somalia, the group mostly recruited from minority tribes and clans including Somali Bantu or Jereerweyne.


For your information, the Jareers are the genetic causins of Kenyan Bantu. This makes the Kenyan recruits feel at home because some of the Bajuni and Jareers in Southern Somalia bordering Kenya speak Swahili. For intergration purposes this is vital giving al Shabaab an edge over ISIS.

Al Shabaab has a tendency of planning for an attack for years.

In 2007, the group confiscated white UN armoured vehicles from central Somalia. Two years later in November 2009, they used the same vehicles to access and attack Amisom peacekeepers in the main UN base in Mogadishu's airport using polished young militants speaking the Queen's language.

They hoodwinked Ugandan peacekeepers who saluted them and waved them into the UN compound without detecting the improvised bombs planted in the armoured UN marked cars. That particular attack killed at least nine AU peacekeepers, including former Amisom deputy commander from Burundi Major General Juvenal Niyoyunguruza.


The group has mastered the art of deception and deep under cover operations by established governmental agencies such as the CIA, Mosad and KGB. Sometimes you'd assume they read and use the same guidebook or protocols.

If you have ever seen those riveting and suspense filled Hollywood espionage thriller action movies depicting mass murders and full of angry terrorists who simply love to kill, then you probably know what am talking about.

Whoever is behind the al Shabaab and ISIS doctrine has a long term plan to simply terrorise us.

It is high time for Kenya, Somalia and other regional countries to unite and come up with their own locally thought and executed plan to deal with the murderous militants, who cut across nationalities and ethnicity as witnessed in the recent sad events in Nairobi.