Islamist fighters in Somalia have made significant gains in the country, according to the latest statement purportedly from al Qaeda’s second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri.
The 25-minute audio recording, titled “From Kabul to Mogadishu,” focuses primarily on the “important developments” in Somalia, which al-Zawahiri called “a step on the path of victory of Islam.” CNN cannot authenticate the message, which was released on Sunday and was interspersed with television news reports and statements from various al Qaeda-linked commanders. CNN analysts who listened to the recording say the voice is consistent with his intonation and accent. This is the third message from al-Zawahiri espousing the views of the al Qaeda terror network in 2009; the other two focused on Israel’s recent military operation against Hamas leaders in Gaza. In addition to Somalia, al-Zawahiri also addresses the situations in Yemen, Gaza, and Afghanistan and Pakistan.
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Al-Zawahiri praised Al-Shabaab fighters in Somalia who recently seized control of Baidoa, where the U.N.-backed transitional government had been based. He warned the newly installed government, under President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, not to squander those gains by submitting “to American demands” and not abiding by sharia, or Islamic law. “I call on my Muslim brothers in beloved Somalia … to not be deceived by those who agree to the secularist constitutions which vie with the sharia in its right to rule,” he said.