Following setbacks for al Shabab as they failed to take the town of Dusamareb from rival Muslim (but pro-government) militia Ahlu Sunna, the latter group now appears to be mounting an offensive.
For one thing, Ahlu Sunna demonstrated a certain ruthlessness of their own yesterday by executing an al Shabab commander. The battle for Dusamareb seems to have hardened Ahlu Sunna’s attitude:
Ahlu Sunna’s spokesman said it had captured many rebels during clashes last week around Galgadud’s capital Dusamareb, including the commander who was sentenced to die by firing squad after he refused to renounce al Shabaab’s hardline ideology.
“We don’t normally kill al Shabaab members. We arrest them and make them understand that Islam means peace. We have detained and then released many of them,” the spokesman, Sheikh Abdullahi Sheikh Abu Yusuf, told Reuters by telephone.
“This commander insisted that all people were infidels except his group … We will execute al Shabaab members who insist that it can be right to kill the innocent. What else are we supposed to do to those who believe they will go to paradise for killing us and the whole human race?”
Sunday’s was the first known execution by Ahlu Sunna Waljamaca.
Meanwhile, Ahlu Sunna launched an offensive against Hizbul Islam in the border town of Beledweyne. It is unclear who now controls the town – Ahlu Sunna claimed to have taken it, but local residents told AFP that each group held one part. More at Garowe, including details on fighting in Mogadishu.
We will see if Ahlu Sunna makes – and holds – gains. If so, that could put al Shabab and Hizbul Islam on the defensive in a way al Shabab especially has not been in recent months.