Somalia’s al Shabeeb militant group has said it will join forces with al Qaeda in a drive to establish an Islamic state in the region and to support Muslims across East Africa. “In a statement Monday, the group said it had agreed, among other things, “to connect the horn of Africa jihad to the one led by al Qaeda and its leader Sheikh Osama Bin Laden.” The statement, written in Somali and Arabic, is believed to be the first explicit confirmation of what U.S. and Somali government have long suspected: Militants in one of Africa’s least stable places are sharing resources and merging agendas. It isn’t clear whether this new resolution will result in funding or training from al Qaeda, or even if it will lead to an official endorsement from the global terror group. At the very least, the statement signals a tightening embrace with foreign fighters who have been supporting al Shabaab’s efforts to topple the Somali government. The cooperation also could spur Somali militants to assist al Qaeda elsewhere. Al Shabaab has sent fighters to Afghanistan to train with al Qaeda, according to the Somali government. Al Shabaab recently pledged to send fighters across the Gulf of Aden to Yemen, where al Qaeda is active.”
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