Don’t underrate Al-Shabaab and ISIS threat in Somalia.

The federal government of Somalia and regional states have been warned against
underestimating the potential of Al-Shabaab and IS-Somalia insurgents, with officials stating that the militants since
posing a threat in the Horn of Africa nation despite suffering a series of defeats following the recent crackdown.
Recently, the group managed to attack the Jana Cabdalla military base in Jubaland, and on Tuesday, they targeted
Bandhere town in the Gedo region where the regional governor survived death. This, officials say, demonstrates that
the group’s potential cannot be underestimated despite potential wins across the country.

“I believe on one hand they have been slightly wounded, but their strength remains intact,” two-time former Prime
Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke told VOA. “They have been making tactical retreats lately, but their force
cannot be underestimated.”

The governor of the troubled Bakool region Mohamed Abdi Tall insisted that the group is predominant in Southwest
and Jubaland, noting that the government is planning a final offensive which he believes will be useful in completely
dislodging them from their hideouts across the country.
Tall said the country is large and it will require support from the federal government and volunteers to participate in
the operations against al-Shabab. He says the group has been recruiting fighters and could be having over 20,000
staunch followers in the country.
“For 15 years they have been recruiting, they readied lots of fighters,” he said. “They had lots of power. Since they
have been removed from regions, we assess their strength has been destroyed, but we are not underestimating
Hussein Sheikh-Ali, the national security adviser to the president of Somalia, gave a lower number for al-Shabab’s
fighting personnel. “My assessment, plus or minus, is they are 10,000,” he said. “The last estimate I had a couple of
years ago was 14,000, but since then I don’t believe they have trained adequate numbers, and they have been
involved in too many fights.”
Sheikh Ali insisted that Al-Shabaab lost “more than a thousand” fighters within the past six months and “probably
would have 2,000-3,000 injured” as a result of the military operations. According to him, the government is not
underestimating Al-Shabaab.
“I have been somebody who always when people were underestimating Shabab, used to warn people not to
underestimate them,” he said. “But now, because they have no support from the population, their days are
On the other hand, IS-Somalia and Al-Shabaab reportedly clashed this week in northern Somalia as the rivalry
between the two groups intensified. While ISIS-Somalia is still smaller in size, experts believe the group still pposesa
danger in the country.
IS-Somalia is a splinter group that was created by Sheikh Abdulkadir Mumin, an Al-Shabaab defector, and is mainly
domiciled in Puntland, a state in the northern part of the country. Ahmed Mohamoud Yusuf, the commissioner of
Balidhidhin, a frontline district in Puntland, told VOA that IS militants have been recruiting Ethiopian fighters in
recent years.
“It’s not easy to say the exact figure,” Yusuf said when asked about the number of Ethiopian fighters, he said, noting
that the group could be having about 300 active fighters with Ethiopians believed to have been recruited.
“ISIS has always targeted Ethiopia and other African states for recruits, its main limitation is that its physical presence
is limited to a very small district in northern Somalia east of Bosaso, where it has almost no vegetation, limited cover,”
said Matt Bryden, Horn of Africa regional analyst.
“It moves its fighters between caves and settlements and cannot establish a viable operational presence. So however
much it tries to recruit from across the continent, it really doesn’t have a solid base from which to project influence
and power.

The US applauded the killing of Bilal al-Sudani, in a special operation by U.S. forces in the Cal-Miskaad mountains.
The U.S. hailed the killing of al-Sudani in the January 26 counterterrorism operation. He was described as a “key
operative and facilitator for ISIS global network, as well as a number of other ISIS operatives.”

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His real name was Al Suhayl Salim and is said to have arrived in Somalia in 2006 along with his brother, Suhayb,
seeking jihad in Somalia, defectors said. Besides competing for control of the country, the two groups are separately
determined to topple the fragile UN-backed federal government of Somalia