Somalia’s al-Qaeda-linked rebel group, al-Shabab, has vowed to recapture all Somali territory that it lost in the past year during battles with government forces and African Union peacekeepers.
In an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera conducted earlier this month, al-Shabab spokesman Sheikh Ali Dheere said the rebel group was not on the back foot despite the recent losses.
“Al-Shabab leaving those towns only shows a change of tactics. We will not be finished. Somalia belongs to al-Shabab. The land and the people are ours. We will not leave our land because of an enemy,” Ali Dheere said, adding that there was no chance of holding talks with the government.
Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud last week said the group will be finished by end of 2014. However, al-Shabab carried out a daring attack on the presidential palace on Friday leaving at least a dozen people dead.
The group has also targeted Turkish nationals and organisations in the capital, Mogadishu, recently. Ali Dheere said they are “legitimate targets”.
“The biggest enemy of the Muslim people is NATO and Turkey is part of NATO. NATO is a union of Christians. NATO uses Turkey as hammer to crush the Muslim people.”
“Anywhere we see Turkish people, they are no different to us than the Americans, the British and AMISOM,” Ali Dheere told Al Jazeera’s Hamza Mohamed in Bulo Mareer.
Follow Hamza Mohamed on Twitter: @Hamza_Africa