• threatens government employees and Turkish nationals
• denies al-Shabab has been ‘pushed out’ of many towns
• questions Kenya’s claims that Westgate Mall attackers are dead
An al-Shabab spokesperson has dismissed hopes that the December appointment of Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed as the new prime minister of Somalia would lead to negotiations between the government and the al-Qaeda-linked group.
In an exclusive interview with al-Jazeera’s Hamza Mohamed, al-Shabab’s Sheikh Ali Dheere said, “The people we are fighting with is because of ideology. They want to colonise us. They want to erase our religion, our people and our land. Those people bring a new face every time. Every new person that comes into office works for them. So for that reason, they are no different to us. Whomever the Christians bring, no matter their name or background, we will not negotiate with them because they have no decision-making powers. They have no powers to refuse or accept anything. What you lose by force you return by force. We will not negotiate with anyone. The country is ours.”
al-Shabab was pushed out of Mogadishu in mid-2011 but in the last few weeks has claimed responsibility for a series of suicide bomb attacks, as well as Friday’s unsuccessful attack on the presidential compound.
When challenged about the civilian casualties involved, Dheere said, “Anyone who works for the apostate government, no matter where and at what level, they are supporting the apostates and the Christians who sent them. Our stand is clear is on such people. We will fight them and kill them anywhere we see them. Anyone who supports the Christians, either through the pen or by carrying a weapon, they are the same to us and we will kill them… We don’t kill civilians who don’t work for the apostate government. We protect them. We do not harm them.”
Dheere said al-Shabab is also targeting Turkish nationals working in Somalia. “We want to tell the Turkish people their government is an enemy to the existence of the people, the country and the religion of the people of Somalia… Them building roads, schools and hospitals is similar to a man who wants to slaughter a goat. If he feeds that goat, is it any good to that goat? He is going to slaughter it anyways. The schools they have built, they teach our Somali children bad behavior; they teach them music; they teach them everything that is bad for them.
“The biggest enemy of the Muslim people is NATO and Turkey is part of NATO. NATO is a union of Christians. They are the number one supporters of that union. NATO uses Turkey as the hammer that’s used to crush Muslims. They first came into the country saying they are here to help the people. They then start saying there is military agreement between them and the apostates and AMISOM. They train the intelligence services. They have taken off the shirt they were wearing when they came in and put on another one. Anywhere we see Turkish people, they are no different to us than the Americans, the British and AMISOM.”
According to Dheere, al-Shabab is fighting for the Muslims who live in Mogadishu. “They are the people whom we want to free from the enemy. We take great care in protecting them. We don’t just go and blow a place up or fire bullets aimlessly. There is a lot of intelligence before an operation. We only attack a place when we are sure the people in there are the apostates, the Christians and those that support them.”
He admitted there may be Muslim casualties. “We pray for that Muslim person and the martyr who carried out the operation to go to paradise. Also we have warned the Muslim people not to go close to apostate bases and where the Christians are. Most of the population has heeded our warning.”
He denied that al-Shabab has been pushed out of many towns in Somalia. “The towns you mentioned that al-Shabab left, we did not leave because of a military defeat. If an army is defeated, their weapons are seized, their soldiers are killed, their deaths publicized. None of that happened. That shows al-Shabab left those towns on their own accord. al-Shabab leaving those towns only shows a change of tactics. al-Shabab will not be finished. Somalia belongs to al-Shabab. The land and the people are ours. We will not leave our land because of an enemy. We hope to be back in those towns as soon as possible.”
The Kenyan government has claimed that the Westgate Mall attackers are dead, which Dheere questioned. “All that Kenya said, nothing is believable. Nothing of what they said is true. Look at how many times they went back on what they said. They first said there were 18 individuals in the mall. Then they said they were 15. Another time they said they were 4. Another time they said a woman was leading them. They said they were all dead. Another time they said they were alive. Even when people could hear the bullets, they were saying the fighting was over. That shows what they say has no basis. It is not something anyone can believe. In our own time we will say whether the men are alive or not. For the individuals involved and for military reasons we will not disclose now.”
To watch the interview, visit http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2014/02/somalia-al-shabab-group-vows-comeback-20142248557425260.html.
Kevin Kriedemann & Joy Sapieka
AL JAZEERA MEDIA NETWORK