This week, after Kenya’s security forces detained hundreds of protesters in the Somali-dominated neighborhood of Eastleigh, Al Shabab’s official website carried an audio recording of a threat to attack Kenya.
"God willing we will arrive in Nairobi, we will enter Nairobi, God willing we will enter ... when we arrive we will hit, hit until we kill, weapons we have, praise be to God, they are enough," Reuters news agency quoted the seven-minute long chanting message from Swahili.
Al Shabab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage later told Reuters that the audio recording was fake.
"We didn't threaten Kenya. That story is a false one,” Mr. Rage told a Reuters reporter. “We never posted that on the Internet. ... Everything needs to be checked first by the media to make sure they know what they are writing about."
Rashid Abdi, a Horn of Africa specialist at the International Crisis Group in Nairobi, says that the threat – even if disavowed by Al Shabab’s leadership – could indicate splits within top Al Shabab leadership.
“I think you have a nationalist group within Al Shabab, who are fed up with global jihadist agenda, and they saying our plate is already full with fighting the African Union and Western-backed transitional government, so we have no business taking on Kenya,” says Mr. Abdi. “On the other side you have the foreign jihadis, who say, ‘no, no, no, you signed up for global jihad.”