Al-Shabaab releases new video on Kulbiyow attack
Al-Shabab’s media wing, Al-Kataib Foundation, released a new video of the January 2017 attack on the Kenya Defence Forces’ base in the Somali town of Kulbiyow. Running for approximately an hour, the video entitled ‘They are not Welcome’ shows the armed Islamic group as they begin their dawn raid with a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) on a KDF forward operating base in Kulbiyow, followed by a swarm of infantry soldiers storming the camp.
Similar to their depiction of the El-Adde raid, Al-Shabab especially tries to validate the authenticity of the Kulbiyow attack by focusing on the corpses of what it claims to be dead KDF soldiers bestrewn across the base and by recording as much detail of the army base as possible. A few clips also show KDF army personnel fleeing en masse from what is purported to be Al-Shabab fighters in their pursuit.
Featured in the video as well, is Muhammad Dhul Yadain, the slain Al-Shabab commander after whom the raid was named in commemoration, justifying Al-Shabab’s war on Kenya as a legitimate act of self-defence while invoking the Wagalla and Garissa massacres as proof of Kenyan’s ‘oppression of Muslims’.
“The Kenyan disbelievers who killed five thousand in “Wagalla”! Those who killed three thousand in “Garissa”! Those who have occupied Muslim territory! Did we transgress upon them or are they the transgressors? Do we then not have the right to take back what was unjustly taken from us, take their wealth, burn their churches and destroy their economy? Is this not justified in our religion?” yells the Al-Shabab commander. According to Kenyan officials, Muhammad Dhul Yadain was responsible for numerous cross-border attacks in Kenya, most notably the 2015 Garissa University massacre that killed more 148 Christians students.
In this video, like all previous Al-Shabab productions, the Islamist group once again takes a jab at the credibility of the Kenyan Government and its official version of events. Using NTV’s report from the ground in Kulbiyow, in which high-ranking KDF officials claim to have successfully repelled the attack, the new video juxtaposes the Kenyan official narrative with scenes captured by Al-Shabab’s camera and presents a convincing counter-narrative that questions the credibility of the Kenyan account. Anyone who has read Jacob Beeders independent, informative analysis of the Kulbiyow attack entitled ‘What Happened in Kulbiyow, Somalia: An Open Source Investigation’ will find this video even more insightful and corroborative of his investigation.
What is interesting to note is that, this is the first time that Al-Shabab has released a video dubbed in four different languages: Arabic, English, Somali, Kiswahili. If anything, this attests not only to the broadening of their media capabilities but also the widening scope of their target audience. The fact that the slain cleric, Aboud Rogo and other native Kiswahili speakers have become central elements in Al-Shabab’s recent productions, as well as this video, highlights the growing transnational objectives of the group and that Kenyan citizens undoubtedly form a major part of the group’s military cadre.
The new Al-Shabab video release is bound to create waves on the social media in Kenya and reignite the debate surrounding the presence of Kenyan soldiers in Somalia, particularly from the Kenyan public who’ve been eager to get to the truth and for whom the official government narrative of the attacks seemed impalpable.
In light of the successive cross-border attacks this week in the North Eastern Province and with the country’s elections just around the corner, Kenya faces some major challenges. Not only is the government dealing with a growing military insurgency in its own backyard but also a determined media campaign that seeks to dethrone the Jubilee government, undermine its authority and strip it of the last bit of dignity left in the eyes of its public: its credibility.
By Harar24′s Editorials team