World

Al-Shabab Has A New Leader, So Who Is He?

Al-Shabab, an Islamic terrorist group in eastern Africa, named a new leader after its previous emir was killed in a U.S. drone strike.

Al-Shabab Has A New Leader, So Who Is He?
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After losing its leader to a U.S. drone strike, the Islamic terrorist group Al-Shabab vowed revenge and named Ahmed Umar as its new leader. 

Al-Shabab, based in Somalia, is responsible for numerous terrorist attacks in east Africa, including the 2013 Westgate mall attack in Kenya that left 67 people dead.

The new emir is also known as Abu Ubaidah. So who is he? Well, we don't know much besides his names.

Harun Maruf, a Somalia-based reporter for Voice of America, was able to dig up more info, reporting Ahmed Umar is a former Al-Shabab governor, a Quran teacher and in his early 40s. (Video via TV2Africa)

Citing friends of the new emir, Maruf says Umar was trained in jihadist camps in southern Somalia and Kenya in the 1990s. 

As reported by The Long War Journal, a translated version of Al-Shabab's statement refers to Ahmed Umar as the leader of an Islamic caliphate, or the "commander of the faithful." 

But if you're looking for mugshots or videos, you're pretty much out of luck. The man has less of an Internet footprint than his predecessor, Ahmed Abdi Godane.

The former elusive leader of Al-Shabab had one mugshot available, released by the U.S. State Department in a wanted statement. Visually, that one photo is all anyone had to go off when talking about him. 

While specifics on Ahmed Umar appear to be virtually unknown at this point, there is speculation on how Al-Shabab will fare after the death of Godane. (Video via Channel 4

Foreign Policy says it was Godane who pursued Al-Shabab's partnership with Al Qaeda, and if it falters it could "slip to a more localized threat characterized more by criminal behavior and illicit trafficking".

And an analyst who spoke with The Wall Street Journal noted that the group has lost leaders before and stayed together, saying "It would be foolish to underestimate their staying power."

Al-Shabab's leadership switch comes as the group is steadily losing ground to Somali government forces backed by a coalition of African nations.