Somalia militants officially join with al Qaeda

In this picture, taken on November 4, 2008, an Islamist fighter from the hard-line al-Shabab group displays their flag during a military drill at a camp in the northern outskirts of Mogadishu. Getty Images

NAIROBI, Kenya - Al Qaeda's leader says that the Somali militant group al-Shabab has formally joined al Qaeda.

A video translation by the Site Intelligence group released on Thursday said that al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri gave "glad tidings" that al-Shabab had joined al Qaeda.

Al-Zawahri said al-Shabab would support the jihad movement against what he called the "Zio-Crusader campaign."

Al-Shabab leaders have pledged allegiance to al Qaeda in the past, but the video — which was posted on an Islamic Internet forum on Thursday — is the first formal welcoming of al-Shabab by al Qaeda.

The al-Shabab-al Qaeda alliance in Somalia counts hundreds of foreign fighters among its ranks.

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The group is already on the U.S. State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations, and al-Shabab has publicly aligned itself with international jihad as espoused by al Qaeda since at least 2010.

In a video posted on jihadist websites the groups declared at the time, "We are your soldiers, O Osama."

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