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Somali Armed Group Says It’s Poised to Defeat Al-Shabab

A Somali armed group has vowed to defeat hard-line insurgent groups, including al-Shabab, which aim to topple the new government. The Alhu Sunna Waljamaca armed group claims it would have destroyed al-Shabab a long time ago if President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed had taken its advice soon after he was elected leader of the government.

On Monday, President Sheikh Sharif pleaded with the international community to help his administration ward off Islamist rebels who have reportedly drawn in hundreds of foreign fighters to their ranks.

Al- Shabab refuses to recognize the new Somali administration, vowing to topple the government.

Sheik Abdulkarim Rasik is a leading member of the al-Sunna armed group. He told VOA that the group needs the support of the president to destroy al-Shabab.

"The country has been at war for almost 20 years and when the president came to Mogadishu, we talked. And we told him that it was better for him to obey the Alhu Sunna Waljamaca because they know the problem of these groups, especially Shabab or Hizbul Islam," Rasik said.

He said the current administration has so far failed to adhere to warnings of the group despite holding negotiations with the president and his ministers.

"The president has not accepted our suggestion. Although we were continuing our fighting in the central regions… we succeeded, I think," he said.

Rasik said the risk of the government being toppled by al-Shabab and other foreign fighters would be minimal if the administration had listened to them.

"The president realizes the problem and now he is facing a lot of challenges. So we think and know that this is not progress, because the situation is deteriorating day after day," Rasik said.

He said the new administration is now realizing that the threat of the government being overthrown is growing rapidly.

"The president is fed up and they (foreign fighters) are determined to topple this government. And they think they are succeeding in the fighting of their war," he said.

Rasik said all the administration needs is to ask for help from the armed group to help ward off the insurgents.

"If the president needs help or support from us, we will support if Allah wills. But he may change because he and al-Shabab were in the same group when they were in the ICU (Islamic Courts Union)," Rasik said.

Rasik said Alhu Sunna Waljamaca is capable of defeating the Islamic insurgents and other foreign fighters, including al-Shabab.

"We are now calling on the president and his allies… to follow our programs because we know al-Shabab, and we are really successful in our challenges against them," he said.

Rasik said the armed group has often defeated the insurgents.

"You know that we defeated many times al-Shabab, and we killed many foreign fighters, especially those from Afghanistan and Algeria," Rasik said.

He expressed confidence that his group would continue to thwart the insurgent aim of removing the government from power.

"We are calling on the government of Sheik Sharif and to all Somalis to follow this campaign that we are going to topple al-Shabab and its groups," he said.

Rasik said the government would be victorious if it heeds to Alhu Sunna Waljamaca suggestions.

"If the president obeys us, I think he will succeed. But if he misses our advice, I think he will lose his government," Rasik said.

Meanwhile, a sharp increase in violence this month has reportedly killed nearly 200 people in the capital, Mogadishu, and driven some 60,000 residents from their homes. At least 53 people have died since Friday morning when the government attacked insurgent strongholds in the capital.

Some security experts claim hard-line Islamist insurgents have been planting more sophisticated roadside bombs in recent months and suicide attacks have become more frequent.

Other political observers express worry that Somalia could become a base for al-Qaeda-linked militants and terrorists to destabilize the entire region unless President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed's new government can defeat them.

Al-Shabab, which is viewed by Washington as a terrorist organization with strong ties to al-Qaeda, has refused to recognize the new administration and has vowed to overthrow the government through violent means.

The hard-line insurgent group has often accused the new administration of being a stooge of the west to control the countries resources, a charge the government dismisses.

Somalia has lacked an effective government since 1991 when former President Mohammed Siad Barre was overthrown in a coup d'état.