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Somali Militant Group al Shabaab Uses Donald Trump in Video to Recruit New US Followers

The al Qaeda-allied group released a propaganda film that uses footage of Trump calling for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”
Image via Al-Kataib

Donald Trump has continued to dominate the airwaves in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination — but the GOP frontrunner might not be thrilled with the latest outlet to publicize his controversial speech calling for a ban on Muslims entering the US. The Somali militant group al Shabaab used footage from Trump's speech in documentary-style video aimed at recruiting American Muslims to their cause.


Trump's appearance in the 51-minute video released on Friday is preceded by old clips of Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical US-born cleric and prominent al Qaeda figurehead who was killed by a US drone strike in Yemen in 2011. "There are ominous clouds gathering in your horizon," al-Awlaki warns American Muslims.

"Yesterday, America was a land of slavery, segregation, lynching and Ku Klux Klan," the cleric says. "Tomorrow it will be a land of religious discrimination and concentration camps. The West will eventually turn on its Muslim citizens."

Related: US Citizen Defects from al Shabaab as Group Contends with Competing Islamic State

The video then cuts to footage from early December last year showing Trump reading aloud from his written statement proposing a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on."

#AlShabaab uses Donald Trump's anti-Muslim statements in a recruitment video #Somalia #US — Live From Mogadishu (@Daudoo) January 2, 2016

Trump's campaign did not immediately respond to VICE News' request for comment about the al Shabaab video.

Trump's comments about Muslims were widely condemned, and he was accused of xenophobic fear-mongering. The White House questioned whether his comments ought to disqualify him from running entirely. But amid national debate on whether the US should accommodate Syrian refugees in the wake of the Paris bombings and the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, Trump's rhetoric resonated with many of his supporters. And with his approval ratings still surging, he has refused to back down from his statement.


Hillary Clinton said that it is O.K. to ban Muslims from Israel by building a WALL, but not O.K. to do so in the U.S. We must be vigilant!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)January 2, 2016

Former US Secretary of State and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said that Trump was walking a dangerous line with his pugnacious words, and that he was becoming the Islamic State's "best recruiter."

The narrator in the Somali militant group's video also accuses the US criminal justice system of being inherently racist, citing police shootings and mass incarceration in a call for young black Americans to convert to Islam and commit to jihad. The video appropriates footage of civil rights icon Malcolm X talking about his own conversion to Islam.

The video, titled "The Path to Paradise 2," is the second episode in a series on American jihadis from Minnesota who were killed fighting in Somalia. Roughly 22 young men have left Minnesota since 2007 to join al Shabaab in Somalia, while about a dozen Minnesota residents have traveled to Syria to join militant groups there since 2013, according to the Associated Press.

Related: Republicans Argue Over How to Keep America Safe as Trump Sticks to Muslim Ban at Debate

Al Shabaab has long been allied with al Qaeda, but a faction of the group pledged allegiance to the Islamic State last October. The group's leaders have also split over whether they should focus on local battles, or join in the larger campaign by radical Islamist groups against the West. Al Shabaab killed American recruit Abu Mansoor Al-Amriki in 2013 for criticizing the group for being too focused on domestic affairs and ignoring international jihad.

Al Shabaab militants claimed responsibility for a deadly attack last April on Garissa University College, near the Somali border in Kenya, that left 148 people dead. The group was also responsible for the September 2013 attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya that killed 67 people and wounded 175 others.

Follow Tess Owen on Twitter: @misstessowen

Watch the VICE News documentary Somalia: The Fight Against al Shabaab: