Members of al-Shabab in Somalia who recently pledged allegiance to Islamic State are moving into the capital, Mogadishu, according to a senior intelligence analyst.
Colonel Abdullahi Ali Maow, a former national intelligence officer who now heads the new Mogadishu-based Somalia Institute for Security Studies, told VOA that some al-Shabab members are fleeing to the capital and to areas near the border with Kenya because they were overpowered in the region of Middle Juba.
Maow said Mogadishu is attractive because, as a city of several million people, it is an easy place to blend in.
This week, Islamic State claimed responsibility for an attack in Somalia when an explosion targeted a convoy of African Union troops outside the capital.
But AMISOM military spokesman Joseph Kibet told VOA that Islamic State may not have been behind that attack.
Al-Shabab, however, did not claim responsibility for that attack, as they often do.
An intelligence official who did not want to be identified by name told VOA that al-Shabab is hostile to former members who have pledged allegiance to Islamic State, creating a rift between the two factions. He predicted there may be instances of violence known to the two groups, but left unexplained to the general public.
Colonel Maow, who told VOA the pro-Islamic State al-Shabab members are coming to Mogadishu, said the government plans to treat them the same way it treats other al-Shabab members. But he said the government is concerned that the Islamic State adherents will gain more followers.
“They may not have power now,” he said, “but it complicates the situation.”