A senior al Shabaab official has called the editors of two influential media services, the BBC and VOA, betrayers of the Islamic faith.
Sheikh Fu’ad Mohamed Khalaf Shongole, al Shabaab’s head of mobilisation, called Yusuf Garad Omar of the BBC and Abdurahman Mohamed Yabarow of the VOA murtadeen (people who have abandoned the Islamic faith).
This qualifies them as enemies of the religion.
Addressing hundreds of worshippers who had congregated for the midday Friday Prayers at a mosque in Mogadishu, Sheikh Fu’ad Shongole said that some well-known Somalis were enemies of Islam.
He labelled them the “new unfaithful”.
According to witnesses, the sheikh emphasised that the editors of the BBC and VOA Somali Services, two widely followed broadcasters, were involved in actions that harmed Islam in Somalia.
He stated that they used propaganda and pro-western information to mislead Muslims in the country.
The FM radio stations in areas controlled by al Shabaab have been prohibited from re-broadcasting the VOA from Washington DC and the BBC Somali Service from London.
Transmitters and other properties belonging to the BBC were confiscated by the Islamist movement.
In the past, politicians and government employees in Somalia were categorised as murtadeen. Through the declaration, loyalists of al Shabaab could kill a murtad (a person classified as unfaithful) on sight.
In related news, al Shabaab fighters have made a military advance in the last four days.
They captured several towns on the eastern side of the Somalia’s central regions, particularly in Galgadud.
The captured villages and towns include Gal’ad, Masagawa and Eeldheer, 280 km east of Mogadishu.
Sheikh Yusuf Issa alias Kaba-kutukade, the al Shabaab governor of Galgadud region, told the residents of the seized towns that the movement was on a mission to “liberate” the inhabitants from moderate Islamists known as Ahlu Sunna wal-Jamea.
Al Shabaab fighters are heading towards Haradhere, a coastal town that has been a base for the notorious Somali pirates.
Reports from the area indicated that the leaders of the pirates had already left Haradhere following news that hundreds of al Shabaab fighters with battle wagons were close by.
With this move, al Shabaab seems like it is aiming to secure the control of central and southern Somalia.