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UPDATE as of 9 Dec 2011 - Al-Shabaab's @HSMPress twitter post claimed that the group is not changing its name and blamed scholars for the confusion. "Suggestion from Somali scholars was perhaps misconstrued as an official HSM statement."
Somalia’s al-Shabaab militants agreed to change their name to Imaarah Islamiyah (Islamic Authority) after four days of meetings in Baidabo of Bay region, according to al-Shabaab’s senior officers.
A number of senior Islamic leaders attended the meeting including Ali Dhere, Mukhtaar Robow, Fu’ad Shangole and Hassan Dahir Aweys. Ahmed Godane, the only senior leader who did not attend, sent a message in which he reportedly disagreed with the name change.
Upon concluding the meeting, the militants released a statement in which they said they plan not only to change their name, but also their tactics, and called on Somalia's citizens to fight against the government and its allies.
“The Transitional Federal Government is not the right government for Muslims. It is from the western enemy and enemy of Allah. We will continue to fight against the TFG and foreign troops in our country,” said the leaders in a statement.
Mukhtaar Robow, a spokesman for al-Shabaab explained the reason for the name change to local media after the meeting.
"Al-Shabaab means 'youth' but many of us, including the leaders, are very old so we want to change the name to Imaarah Islamiya," said Robow.
Exactly when they plan to implement this change remains unknown.
Other points of their meeting included the following, as taken from their statement:
- To change the name of Harakad al-Shabaab al-Mujaahidiin (Movement of the Warrior Youth) to Imaraah Islamiya (Islamic emirate of Somalia)
- To establish independent Shuria of clerics for the Islamic emirate
- To support the current al-Shabaab administrations to defeat the 'infidel' forces of Kenya, Ethiopia AMISOM and TFG.
- To prohibit drugs such as cigarette smoking, Khat or any kind of drugs from the areas controlled by the militants Islamist in Somalia.
- To know that for every Muslim, it is compulsory to fight against the current TFG leader Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, as he is out of Islam due to his seeking support from the Christian countries to fight against the Islamic emirate, by which is meant al-Shabaab administrations