A militant clique faithful to Islamic State (IS) has increased its following in northern Somalia from a few dozen in 2016 up to 200 this year, a United Nation report said, days after the faction came under United States air attack for the first time.
The growing in power of the IS spin-off group has entice attention because some security officials fear it could offer a place of refuge for Islamic State militants running away from military defeat in Syria or Iraq.
“The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group faithful to Sheikh Abdulqader Mumin. Roughly calculated in 2016 to number not more than a few dozen, has growing notably in power, and (now) made up of as many as 200 fighters,” said the report by a panel of U.N. experts obtained by Reuters.
Somalia has been torn apart by civil war and Islamist militancy, though more in the south than in the north where the Puntland region is sited, since 1991 when clan warlords dethrone a dictator before facing each other.
Friday’s air strikes failed to kill Mumin, the security source said. But Abdirizak Ise Hussein, director of semi-independent Puntland’s spy service, said the strikes killed about 20 militants, which includes a Sudanese fighter and two Arabs.
Mostly all Mumin’s fighters are Somali, the United Nation report said, though the group believed to include a Sudanese man authorize by the United States.
The faction are also touch in Yemen.
it’s not obvious if the Sudanese man under U.S. authorization was the same one reported killed in the air strike.
“The figure of IS fighters in Puntland has increased.
Mostly they come from southern Somalia and a few, including foreigners, come from Yemen,” Colonel Abdirahman Saiid, a military officer in Puntland, stated this.
The United Nation report said defectors from Mumin’s group said the group had received money and orders from Iraq and Syria, and one member said he had seen Mumin and another leader using TrueCrypt software to communicate with them. The United Nations could not verify those claims alone.
Mumin’s faction has been lessen their speed in its activity over the past year.
Earlier this year, it carried out its first attacks.
Its fighters killed four security at a hotel in Bosasso, the economic capital of Puntland, in February.
The same February, the group cut off the head of three men it had kidnapped.
Somalia’s main Islamist insurgent group, al Shabaab, is aligned with al Qaeda and is most active in the Horn of Africa country’s south.
It has repeatedly engage with the Islamic State-aligned group in the north.