Al Shabaab Rejects ‘Khawarij’ Name, Calls it Propaganda

Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia.

The Al-Qaida-linked terror group Al Shabaab has rejected the Somali government’s use of the name “Khawarij”  a term describing a deviant sect to refer to the group and said the term was being pushed by pro-government religious leaders.

The Somali government banned Monday the use of the name Al Shabaab and asked the public to call the militant group “Khawarij”.

The group’s spokesperson, Ali Mohamud Raage, also known as Ali Dheere, called the use of the term propaganda promoted by pro-government religious scholars.

Speaking to the group’s affiliate Radio Al-furqan, Ali Dheere also criticized the presence of foreign troops in Somalia, saying the country belongs to the group. He said they would fight until foreign troops leave the country.

Some 22,000 African Union troops are stationed in the country to support the government of Somalia and aid in stabilization efforts.

“Executing the orders of the nation’s leaders and recommendations from the religious clerics, the ministry banned the use of the term Al Shabaab and only should be called Khawarij,” said the ministry of religious affairs in a statement.

The ministry also prohibited Somali clerics from dealing with or meeting with the militants.

In 2015, the Somali government came up with another name, “Ugus,” a Somali word that means ‘a group that massacres the Somali people.’

Al Shabaab reacted to the name by threatening to punish anyone who followed government orders and used the term, including journalists.

The Somali government prohibited local media outlets from reporting on the group’s terrorist activities in October.