Since taking office, President Donald Trump has stepped up US military strikes against al-Shabaab, the ISIS-affiliated terrorist group based primarily in Somalia, despite promises to avoid more foreign entanglements. In May, a Navy SEAL died during a mission targeting a compound of al-Shabaab militants, becoming the first US soldier to die in Somalia since 1993, when 18 US service members were killed in what became known as the battle of Mogadishu, later memorialized in the film “Black Hawk Down.” In June, the US killed 8 militants during a drone strike against what US officials described as one of the group’s primary training camps and bases.
While al-Shabaab lacks the resources to launch an effective counterattack against the US, the group instead opted to mock Trump in a new propaganda video. In it, the group responds to Trump’s violent escalation by calling him a “brainless billionaire” and criticizing US voters for electing “arguably the most stupid president a country could ever have" - echoing sentiments commonly expressed by left-leaning voters in metropolitan hubs like New York City.
Trump, the militants claim, is "making the United States the greatest joke on Earth and is now propelling it further to its eventual defeat and destruction," according to Russia Today, which cited the Associated Press and the SITE Intelligence Group.
In addition to authorizing more drone strikes against Somalian while also categorizing parts of the country’s south as an area where active hostilities are taking place, Somalia was included as one of six countries in the Trump administration’s travel ban.
The group also criticized its neighbor Kenya, which has declared a new offensive against the extremists, sending in troops to take part in a multinational African Union force. Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for a number of terror attacks inside Kenya, including the 2015 shooting at a mall in Nairobi.
“Your military’s invasion of Somalia will continue to destabilize your country,” the video states.
“When we do strike, your government will not be able to protect you.”
The group has also vowed to carry out more attacks against Somalia's recently elected government.
According to RT, this isn’t the first time the group has referenced Trump in its propaganda. In a recruitment video released early last year, the group included inflammatory sound bites from then-candidate Trump, including his notorious call for a “complete and total shutdown” of Muslims entering the US. Since being pushed out of the capital Mogadishu in 2011, al-Shabaab has lost control of most of Somalia's cities and towns. But it still retains a strong presence in swathes of the south and center and still carries out major gun and bomb attacks. The group killed more than 4,200 people in 2016, according to the Pentagon-supported Africa Center for Strategic Studies.