Al-Shabaab promotes ‘newly established’ Islamic police
Radio Andalus, a Shabaab media outlet, has released photos proclaiming to show a “newly established” Islamic police force in the town of Jilib, which is under the control of Shabaab in Somalia’s Middle Jubba region.
The propaganda outlet makes clear the this force is “not an armed force” but only to “encourage people and to prohibit wrongdoing.” It also says that the role of the Hisba (Islamic police) to “protect the quality of food and medicine and clothing in the market and all products in the markets.” Shabaab also shows the ID cards of the new members, highlighting that the oldest is 48 and the youngest 24 and all from the same region of Somalia.
While most international attention is on the Islamic State’s attempted governance in Iraq and Syria, al Qaeda branches, like Shabaab, are largely doing the same in areas they control in other locations. Shabaab conducts its own Sharia courts, instructs Islamic police, education and taxation systems, proclaims “states” and even installs shadow governors for these “states” in Somalia. Where the federal government and African Union forces fail to provide governance, Shabaab has stepped in to fill the void in many places.
In a video released for Eid last month, the jihadist group outlined several “Islamic Wilayaat [provinces]” in Somalia. These include Jubba, Gedo, Lower Shabelle, Middle Shabelle, Bay and Bokool, Hiraan, and Galgudud. While Shabaab claimed new territory in central and northern Somalia, most of its control is situated in the southern half of the country. Shabaab’s emir, Abu Ubeydah Ahmed Omar, also released a video last month in which he sent a message to his “governors,” reminding them of their duties. The message is also filled with Qur’anic verses meant to disparage the Islamic State and its enactment of Sharia.
Photos released by Shabaab showing its Islamic police in Jilib: