Following the October 2011 deal between Israel and Hamas to free kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit from captivity, there were fears that the precedent of swapping hostages for terrorists would encourage the Iran-backed terror group to attempt more kidnappings.
The effect that the exchange had on Hamas’s decision calculus is unclear. Though the group has indicated it would seek to secure future hostages, its capabilities have been constrained by Israel’s highly effective Operation Pillar of Defense in November, and later by Egyptian security forces, who are in a cold war with the group.
Other terror groups, however, were also paying attention. The Labeik Media Foundation is a jihadist media outlet associated with the Somali al-Qimmah Forum. The al-Qimmah forum is operated by al-Shabaab. Al-Shabaab is Al Qaeda in Somalia.
The Labeik Media Foundation earlier this month published what it described as an “urgent article.” The title? “We Shall Get You Shalit” [PDF]. The location? Somalia:
Finally, it’s my appeal to Every Mujahid in the Somalia to strive to do his best to capture one or two American Gilat Shalits to be exchanged with the tens of Somalis imprisoned in American jails. As I raise my voice even louder to the Muslims everywhere in the world to attempt coming up with ways of convincing America to release our prisoners. Let us never forget that it’s the duty of every Muslim to alleviate the pain of the other. As I advise our Muslim brothers and sisters in America itself to help us on this proposal of getting and American Shalit. What is taken by force will never be returned without force. Our imprisoned brothers and sisters will come back home safe and sound by the barrel of our guns Insha Allah.
The call for kidnapping Americans was apparently in response to the recent conviction of five Somalis on terrorism charges in Minnesota.
Among those facing prison time is a man who recruited young Somali men from Minnesota to travel to the Horn of Africa to fight for the terrorist group al-Shabab. Late last year a jury found Mahamud Said Omar guilty of five counts of terrorism-related felonies — including ‘conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim and injure’ — which carries a potential life sentence. Two Rochester women convicted in 2011 of sending money to al-Shabab also face 30 years or more in prison.