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Al-Shabab Battles IS in Northeastern Somalia

Voice of America

The al-Shabab militant group has scaled up its attacks against pro-Islamic State fighters in the northeastern mountainous Somali region of Bari, experts say.

Intelligence and security officials say al-Shabab has seized two locations from pro-IS militants this week. One of the two areas is called El-Miraale, a water point that has been the focal point of clashes. The second village seized by al-Shabab is called Shebaab, south of the town of Qandala according to sources.

Pro-IS militants have now retreated further into the highlands, but experts say the fighting is not over.

Abdi Hassan Hussein is the former intelligence chief of Puntland. He has been monitoring the latest clashes between the two sides.

“They are fighting over the control of the mountains, which has been a base for Daesh,” he said, using another term for Islamic State.

Puntland, Somalia. The region of Bari is the tip of Puntland.

December al-Shabab attack

Al-Shabab attacked IS in December after al-Shabab smuggled dozens of their militia members into the area, a move described as audacious attempt to reach IS hideouts.

Hussein says al-Shabab lost the first round of the battle in mid-December last year and lost men but has since regrouped and launched a second-round offensive earlier this week. He says the key El-Miraale water point is now under control of al-Shabab.

“Al-Shabab managed to take over the area, they also spread to Dhadaar village,” he said.

Both groups extorting locals

The two groups have not only been fighting over the control of territory but have also been competing for collecting extortion money from Somali businesses.

Al-Shabab has been collecting systematic taxes and extortions from Somalia business, but IS started to emulate the tactic late last year. IS demanded payments from businesses in Puntland as well as in Mogadishu. When businesses resisted IS extortions, the group started targeting businessmen, killing at least half a dozen people.

Al-Shabab saw this as a direct challenge and vowed to destroy the IS group.

Al-Shabab spokesman Ali Mohamoud Dhere described IS as a “disease” and a “cancer.” In a speech he made in December, he said al-Shabab fighters have orders to “uproot” IS militants in Somalia.

Security threats

Both groups are a danger to the security of Somalia.

  Hussein Sheikh Ali, the former national security adviser to President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, said the current situation indicates stalemate.

“Al-Shabab is more powerful, but IS also showed they are not a pushover,” he said. “Indeed it’s IS that provoked al-Shabab and tried to conduct activities in the south,” he said.

The activities Ali is referring to are attempts by IS to collect extortions from businesses in the south.

Militarily al-Shabab severely the purged group’s sympathizers and fans in the southern regions of Somalia. In January al-Shabab executed three men, including two foreign jihadists who were accused of supporting IS although the men reportedly denied association with IS.

The Somali national killed by al-Shabab, Yahye Haji File, also known as Abu Zakariye, was an official who fell out with al-Shabab over the killing of a pro-Islamic militant commander. He left al-Shabab after the killing of associate Sheikh Bashir Abu Numan, who was an al-Shabab commander-turned-IS assassinated by al-Shabab in 2015 just weeks after IS split from al-Shabab.

Civilians pay highest price

Ali says if al-Shabab defeats IS it will be “one less problem” for the Somalia.

“If al-Shabab wins it will mean one less problem for the federal government and regions, but if Daesh continues to exist or strengthen, the problem will double in many fronts,” he said.

Hussein says the fighting could prolong in the highlands specially if IS opts for a guerrilla war against al-Shabab.

Hussein says the biggest casualties from these confrontations are the civilians living in those areas. 

In recent days, there have been reports of competing attempts by the two sides for the support of locals. While IS encouraged the locals to be hostile to the new armed visitors, al-Shabab was trying to persuade them to cooperate and inform on the whereabouts of IS. But according to reports from the area, the public is apprehensive, especially as there are no visible signs to identify between the two competing sides — who is al-Shabab and who is IS, a tricky situation that endangers their safety.

Hussein says there is a responsibility on the Somali government and Puntland regional administration to protect those civilians.

“There is a lot of fear facing the people living in these areas,” he said. “The arrival of al-Shabab is a new, additional threat to them.”

He said the villagers are expecting support from the federal government and Puntland.But it is unclear how they will get this support as the area sees increased tension.

US airstrikes

Meanwhile, the United States military reported carrying out its ninth strike against al-Shabab militants this year. The strike Wednesday in Shabeley village of Hiran region killed 24 al-Shabab fighters according to Africa Command.

They strikes included a Dec. 19 bombing of an al-Shabab militia traveling on a large truck shortly after the militia returned from attacking a Somali military base. Fifty-two militants were killed in the strike. Also four of the strikes took place in three consecutive days between Jan. 6 and 8. Last year Africa Command carried out 47 strikes, a record in Somalia.

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How to identify Fake News or Messages on Social Media 

Beware of Fake News and Fake Messages on Social Media

Always follow websites or social media platforms of traditional media outlets whether newspapers, magazines,Television News Channels or Radio Stations and authentic online only media outlets.They still maintain journalism excellence and stress on reportorial talent.On the other hand, fake news websites run by people with non journalism background and promote their own ideology with fake news and disinformations and obviously conspiracy theories.

But unfortunately mainstream media also manipulates news to establish their story angle.There were various instances when News papers and TV Channels promoted fake news/conspiracy theories in the form of out of context or manipulated pictures/videos and distorted informations.

Always check the URL of any website.Some fake news websites look like the orginal and popular one the same layout,Logo but if you check the URL you may find extra words like if the orginal website's URL is the duplicate one might be or something like that so first check the URL for authentic informations.

Check whether photos are original or photoshopped.Check Google images for authenticity.You can find help from Google Reverse Images search.

Check the news sources from other websites whether they picked up the story or not.

Whether the website layout is little bit clumsy and obviously grammatical mistakes and spelling mistakes and excessive use of Sex related and sensational and hate stories.Because sex and hate sells.

Follow official websites relating to COVID-19

WHO Clarifies the disinformation about the virus:
COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates
Cold Weather and Snow can not kill the new coronavirus
Taking a Hot Bath Does Not Prevent COVID-19
COVID-19 Can not be transmitted through mosquito bites

Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body. Spraying such substances can be harmful to clothes or mucous membranes (i.e. eyes, mouth)

According to World Health Organization (WHO): Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water

Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth . If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early.

Stay at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and slight runny nose, until you recover.

Follow WHO guidelines

When you follow COVID-19 related news and messages from social media then check and recheck it before consuming it.Follow journalism mantra: if your mother says she loves you, check it out.

Most of the messages or informations quote different organizations like WHO, UNICEF, UNDP,Cambridge University  or other well known institutes,organizations or individual to authenticate the messeges.Check official websites of these organizations  if stories are repeated there

Forwarding messages from unknown sources or little known sources, it would be better to ignore it.

Check whether any logo like UNICEF or WHO or other organizations used in the messages which look similar to original logo.

These type of messages are full of Grammatical mistakes and spelling mistakes which are quite uncommon in original messages.

Don't rely on viral social media messages such as Coronavirus Infected Indian Currencies of Rs.500 and Rs.2,000 Notes Found, Muslim Man Spit in Food At Indian Restaurant.....Always Check Authentic Sources.

Some fake messages pretend to be real one like unofficial Twitter handle of international media organizations like BBC,CNN,Washinton Post, New York Times-check the official Twitter handles of media outlets.

You can identify fake messages if the message requests you to share it.

Beware of Fake News or Fake Photos/Videos Relating to Communal Hatred

Always check the fact checking sites if you have some doubts about the authenticity of any information or picture.

The Same Method Applies to You Tube Videos Check the Source the credibility of the Source.To Check Fake You Tube Videos Check and Recheck the sources. Does the person have the legal right to the video posted? Did that person capture the video? Whether it has been altered?

But due to advancement of technology we can not really wipe out fake news.According to experts advent of  Artificial Intelligence(AI) some companies small or big one developing  technologies that can  lay digitally created script to anybody's voice  even words,sentences never said by the person.Even they developing a technology which can create fake video footage,images,audios like originals.So be cautious! Rumour-mongers are active everywhere whether in physical world or cyber world.

Without evidence or with fake evidence, a conspiracy theory will always remain a conspiracy theory.

For any further information relating to fake news and how-to search authentic informations from the internet write to us or Whats App:+916289017966

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