Mogadishu (Somalia), June 9(ANI): Somali intelligence officials, analysts and former Al-Shabab fighters have said that foreign fighters from Pakistan and Afghanistan are gaining influence inside the country's Al-Shabab militia.
Al-Shabaab is said to have about 300 to 1,200 foreigners in its ranks, particularly in its leadership.
Somali and U.S. intelligence officials believe the foreigners are inspiring the Somali militants to import Al-Qaeda's ideology and brutal tactics from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
"The foreign jihadists were once in the shadows. Now, there is no doubt they have taken control of the movement," The Washington Post quoted Rashid Abdi, a Somalia analyst in Nairobi with the International Crisis Group, a conflict research organization, as saying.
Meanwhile, Mohammed Sheik Hassan, the head of Somalia's National Security Agency, said that the rise of the foreign fighters suggests a growing internationalization, where Al-Qaeda's regional affiliates are showing signs of increase in influence.
"The foreign fighters are brainwashing our people. They want one Islamic nation under the leadership of bin Laden, but the ambition of Somalis is only to gain power locally," Hassan said.
Michael Chertoff, former U.S. Department of Homeland Security chief, highlighted another threat and said that Washington's focus in Pakistan and Afghanistan may force more Al-Qaeda-linked fighters to migrate to Somalia and other countries in Africa.
"The lesson of the last 10 to 15 years of counterterrorism is that as pressure goes on the network in one place, it moves elsewhere," the paper quoted Chertoff , as saying. (ANI)