Previous 15 tweets all in 1 re: Al-Shabab, AQ, & Mu'min's Defection to IS
There have been some exaggerated claims floating around about the immediate impact of 'Abd al-Qadir Mu'min's defection to IS. Symbolically, his defection is important but not necessarily an insurmountable challenge to AS' leadership. Mu'min is important for a number of reasons. First, as a religious scholar and one promoted heavily by AS & aligned media over the years. AS media promoted his lectures, such as oral exegesis of the Qur'an, & he was very recently featured in several video lectures for Ramadan. He was also a featured speaker at AS official eulogy event for Bin Laden in May 2011 and one of the official celebrations, in Lafoole, marking the formalizing of AS' affiliation with AQC with other important AS leaders including (then) Mukhtar Robow & regional governors.
Though exact numbers are not known, most sources are reporting that Mu'min was joined by 2 to several dozen fighters in Puntland. The remainder (the majority) have remained thus far loyal to the main AS faction in the region.
Recent signs suggest that the central AS leadership & regional amirs are disposed to maintain their affiliation with AQ. AS was one of the first AQ-aligned regional groups to eulogize the late Afghan Taliban leader Muhammad 'Umar & hold janaza prayers. In eulogizing Afghan Taliban leader Muhammad 'Umar, AS' senior leadership continued to refer to him as the "commander of the faithful." AS media also continues to speak respectfully of AQC amir Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, further suggesting that senior leadership remains loyal.
Depending on further developments, this could shift, particularly if important factions within the group defect to IS. For example, should significant numbers of AS' Kenyan foreign fighters & figures, such as Ahmad Iman Ali, defect, the balance could shift.
Note, these are not definitive conclusions but initial thoughts. The situation could shift depending on future developments.