Kenya on alert following Shabaab video threats

NAIROBI – Kenyan security forces have been placed on alert after Somalia's Al-Shabaab militant group threatened to carry out fresh attacks similar to last September's deadly attack on Nairobi's Westgate Mall.

"There is a security alert in Mombasa, Nairobi and parts of North Eastern [province] following the threats," Mombasa Police Commander Robert Kitur told Anadolu Agency on Tuesday.

The move follows the recent release of an 11-minute video in which Al-Shabaab threatens attacks on the scale of last year's Westgate Mall siege, in which 67 people were killed and which was later claimed by the group.

"Westgate is not enough. There are still hundreds of men who are waiting to be part of a similar operation," one militant says in Swahili, the national language of Kenya.

Masked men in camouflage brandishing AK-47 rifles and Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs) then sing in Swahili.

"Nairobi we have arrived. Similar attacks are on the way. We will blow you up until we finish you off," they proclaim.

"Al-Shabaab is very dangerous. You can never defeat us. We fight for our faith," the militants add.

There are reportedly 300 Kenyan fighters within Al-Shabaab's ranks, mostly drawn from Nairobi, Mombasa and Kenya's North Eastern province.

Ali Ahmed Iman, who reportedly left Nairobi for Somalia in 2009 to join the group, is said to be the leader of the group's Kenyan militants.

The youthful engineering graduate appears in the video, seated and listening intently.

-Mosques monitored-

The video, seen by an AA reporter, encourages Kenyan Muslims to travel to neighboring Somalia.

"Make hijra [migration], believers; leave and migrate to Somalia. If you live with non-believers, you will be humiliated," it says.

Chacha Mwita, a security analyst at the East African Security Studies Institute, said the video was also meant to cement ties between Al-Shabaab leader Ahmed Godane Abu Zubeyr and his Kenyan fighters.

"We have recently seen that relations between the Al-Shabaab leader and the foreign fighters have been on the rocks, with some foreign fighters eliminated. Most have been accused of spying," Mwita told AA.

"The video by Kenyan fighters praises Godane and assures him that the Kenyan fighters will remain loyal to him," he said.

Among the foreign fighters who have accused Godane of deviating from Islamic teachings is Omar Hammami Abu Mansur Al Amriki, killed last September by Al-Shabaab after falling out with its leader.

Kenyan security officials, for their part, say they are not taking the new threats lightly.

"We are also investigating three Muslim clerics in Mombasa who we believe are radicalizing and fanning religious fundamentalism," Kitur, the Mombasa police commander, told AA.

The policeman went on to accuse the three clerics of having had close links with slain scholars Sheikh Abubakr Shariff, also known as "Makaburi," and his mentor, Sheikh Aboud Rogo.

Rogo appears at the end of the new Al-Shabaab video – in footage taken from an earlier sermon – calling on Kenyan Muslims to join "the jihad in Somalia."

Makaburi, an outspoken Muslim cleric, was recently gunned down by unknown attackers in Mombasa's Shanzu district.

He was killed in the same place – and in the same manner – as two other slain Muslim scholars, including Rogo.

The appearance of the video message coincides with an ongoing security operation across Kenya, in which thousands of people – mostly Somalis – have been arrested this month alone.

Copyright © 2014 Anadolu Agency