In Summary
  • Al-Shabaab had after the 2013 Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi stated that the ‘Martyrdom’ group do not flee an area of attack, saying they are always ready to die.
  • The brigade works together with the intelligence arm of al-Shabaab — Amniyat — to plan and stage attacks in targeted prefectures both by suicide bombers and suicide infantry.

"An elite group of soldiers from Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen’s ‘Martyrdom Brigade’ launched a daring dawn raid on a US naval base known as ‘Camp Simba’ in Lamu County, Kenya”, is the statement the terrorist group sent out as it claimed responsibility for the attack last week.

NEW HEADACHE

The statement may have passed as just another of the insurgent’s propaganda material, but in statements after subsequent attacks that have rocked the northeastern parts of the country, the group has conspicuously acknowledged the ‘Matyrdom Brigade’.

The first mention of the name was in a 52-minute-long audio sent out two months ago. Al Shabaab leader Abu Ubeydah Ahmed said the ‘Brigade’ would increase attacks targeting the US and its sympathisers.

Ahmed said the “fighters are constantly prepared to sacrifice their souls whenever they are called upon.”

Sources within Kenya’s counter-terrorism circles said the brigade presents the newest headache in the fight against violent extremism.

“It comprises fighters who are ready to die but after taking as many lives as possible. These kinds of fighters were there before, but as time went by, the terror group set them aside and increased their capacity,” a source said.

DO NOT FLEE

Mr Denis Nthumbi, a security analyst and scholar, believes the name is just used by Al-Shabaab to re-energise its fighters mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

“Al-Shabaab is just Al-Shabaab. All those who join it do so to be martyrs. This is a name they adopted in 2019 for their total confrontation brigade. But they are still Al-Shabaab,” he said.

Mr Nthumbi, however, said within terrorist groups, members are trained differently, depending on their tasks.

Although the operations of the Martyrdom Brigade dates back to when Ahmed Abdi Godane was at the helm of the group, it was not until recently that the group has singled them out and acknowledged them after an attack.

Al-Shabaab had after the 2013 Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi stated that the ‘Martyrdom’ group do not flee an area of attack, saying they are always ready to die.

According to the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the brigade works together with the intelligence arm of Al-Shabaab — Amniyat — to plan and stage attacks in targeted prefectures both by suicide bombers and suicide infantry.

Page 1 of 2