When al-Qaeda decided to formally extend its terror franchise to Somalia’s main militant group last week, few were impressed by the pairing.
“Nervous al-Qaeda and al-Shabaab get hitched,” read an Asia Times headline. “A desperate joining of hands to prop up” the weakening groups, wrote the Associated Press. “Terror wings clipped,” proclaimed AllAfrica.com.
And yet both groups mantain a happy outward appearance about the decision. Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri last week gave “glad tidings” about the pairing. On Monday, the now-infamous al-Shabaab Twitter account tweeted its first mentions of its new partner. In several tweeted photos, al-Shabaab mujahideen are shown pledging their allegiance to the “unity under ... one leadership,” as “thousands” of Somalis look on and “rejoice”:
While the two groups have patted each another on the backs for years, the implications of a formal link are worrisome, as it gives both al-Qaeda and al-Shabaab access to new recruits, CNN reports. The Somali government, in a statement e-mailed to Bloomberg on Tuesday, said it more plainly: “Their union will increase insecurity in Somalia, East Africa and the rest of the world.”