Covering their bases: in the midst of their saber-rattling about spectacular attacks inside Kenya, they are also trying to make arrangements for a hudna. “Official: Al-Shabaab leaders contact Kenyan government to negotiate,” by David McKenzie for CNN, October 27:
Nairobi, Kenya (CNN) — Conflicting accounts emerged Thursday over whether the extremist group Al-Shabaab has signaled a desire to negotiate with Kenya amid a Kenyan military offensive targeting the group.
“They want to talk,” said a Kenyan official who did not want to be named because he is not authorized to talk to the media.
A spokesman for the Kenyan government, however, disputed that account and said Kenya wouldn’t talk with Al-Shabaab even if the group did want to negotiate.
“Al-Shabaab has not contacted Kenya in any way,” said the spokesman, Alfred Mutua. “There are no plans whatsoever for Kenya to negotiate with Al-Shabaab. Kenya does not negotiate with outlawed groups.”
He said Kenyan troops have enjoyed success since crossing the border into Somalia to pursue Al-Shabaab, which the United States and several Western nations view as a terrorist organization.
“They are running scared. I think they are busy running for their lives,” Mutua said. “They don’t have time to talk.”
Kenyan troops struck several Al-Shabaab training sites in Somalia early Thursday, a military spokesman said. The militant group, which includes many rival factions with different leaders, operates from Somalia.
The group’s leaders were said to be reaching out for possible negotiations two weeks after Kenyan troops stormed into Somalia to hunt for Al-Shabaab, which Kenya blames for recent kidnappings of foreigners in the nation.
But Sheikh Mukhtar Robow Ali, Al-Shabaab’s second-in-command who is also known as Abu Mansur, told supporters protesting in Mogadishu against the Kenyan incursion that if Kenya struck targets in Somalia, the militant group would strike back.
Kenya has said its forces aim to take the Somali port city of Kismayo, described by the United Nations as a key stronghold and source of cash for Al-Shabaab. The United Nations estimates the group collects up to $50 million a year from businesses in Kismayo, about half of its annual income.
Robow urged what he said were Al-Shabaab-trained fighters in Kenya to take action in return, with the Kenyan port of Mombasa a target.
”Carry out attacks with heavy losses on Kenya,” Robow said. “If Kenya closes the sea port in Kismayo, attack its banks, its port, its foreign guests and wherever there is a high-value target.”…