The terror youth cell, who call themselves “al-Shabaab” or “the guys”, showed no mercy when their gunmen stormed a Somali hotel in a shocking slaughter which left a trail of bodies.
When it was over, the bloodied remains of 26 dead and at least 56 wounded were strewn throughout the Asasey hotel in the port city of Kismayo, 500km south of the capital Mogadishu.
The dead included YouTube star and prominent Canadian-Somali journalist, Hodan Nalayeh, 43 and her husband, Farid Jama Suleiman.
In a 12-hour battle by authorities to regain control, the gunfire in the attack was so intense, the walls of the hotel itself disintegrated.
The hotel is commonly frequented by politicians and local patrons of industry.
Al-Shabaab, also known as the Mujahideen’s Movement of Striving Youth, began as an armed wing in the early 2000s to wage war against the Somalian government and “enemies of Islam”.
Its most famous member is Britain’s “white widow”, Samantha Lewthwaite, the West’s most wanted terror suspect.
The Irish-born 35-year-old is currently the subject of an Interpol Red Notice, and a fugitive from justice in Kenya for orchestrating grenade attacks at non-Muslim places of worship.
Lewthwaite is also a suspect in the 2012 Mombasa sports bar attack, and the 2013 Westgate shopping mall attack in Kenya.