"I will break the good news to our Islamic nation, which will ... annoy the crusaders, and it is that the Shabab movement in Somalia has joined al-Qaeda," leader Ayman al-Zawahiri said in the video.
The announcement raises concerns for Western nations like the United States and Britain, who worry that radical Somalis trained by al-Qaeda could bring violence to their shores.
''It is only a question of time before their commitment to the cause, and their newly acquired expertise, are likely to be seen on British streets,'' said the Royal United Services Institute, a London-based defense think tank, according to the Brisbane Times.
U.S. Rep. Peter King also commented Thursday that he would resume his controversial hearings examining radicalization in Muslim-American communities. Last July, King held a series of four hearings, including one on al-Shabab’s al-Qaeda connections.
"Al-Shabab now has more capability than ever to strike the U.S. homeland," King said in July. "As many as two dozen Muslim-Americans with al-Shabab — who, in many cases, were trained by top al-Qaeda leaders — remain unaccounted for."
Somalia has no functioning central government and is largely controlled by militant groups. Al-Shabab controls much of the southern and central parts of the country and has claimed responsibility for several instances of civilian kidnappings and bombings, including Wednesday’s suicide car bombing that killed at least 11 and wounded 34 in the Somali capital of Mogadishu.
Speaking further about the organizations’ merger, al-Zawahiri said in the video, "the jihadist movement is, with the grace of Allah, growing and spreading within its Muslim nation despite facing the fiercest crusade campaign in history by the West.”
Later this month, representatives from 40 governments and organizations will meet in London for a one-day conference on Somalia in efforts to cultivate fresh ideas to establish stability in the country.
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(Photo: MOHAMED DAHIR/AFP/Getty Images)