Al-Shabaab's 'Demented' Beheadings, Killing of Christians on the Rise; 9,000 Jihadis Ready

(Photo: Reuters/Feisal Omar)Al Shabaab soldiers sit outside a building during patrol along the streets of Dayniile district in Southern Mogadishu, March 5, 2012.

Islamic terrorist group al-Shabaab's beheadings and attacks against Christians will continue to rise, with the Somali-based militants having an estimated 9,000 jihadis at their disposal, a law group monitoring religious persecution warned.

The American Center for Law and Justice listed on Thursday the growing list of barbaric attacks carried out by the terrorist group over the past couple of years, including door-to-door raids in villages in Kenya in July, where the militants hunted down and killed seven Christians.

In August, al-Shabaab militants killed another four Christians in Kenya's Lamu County, beheading three and burning alive another.

The group is also infamous for the mass slaughter of 148 people at Garissa University in April 2015, when the militants specifically searched for Christian students to kill, separating them from the Muslims.

"This heinous jihadist army must be stopped. Al-Shabaab's atrocities against Christians and brutal persecution of churches in Kenya can no longer be ignored or tolerated. We must be heard," ACLJ urged.

"Al-Shabaab's actions are clearly deadly, demented, disturbing, and disgusting. We must defeat and destroy these Islamic jihadists."

The law group warned, however, that the Islamic radical group may have an "estimated 9,000 jihadist soldiers and a plethora of outside resources to draw upon," making their terrorist activities "less and less likely to relent."

The U.S. military has been carrying out air strikes against al-Shabaab's bases in Somalia, looking to dismantle its operations, though Kenya has largely been unable to stop the cross-border attacks.

The law group pointed out that it has been warning about the spread of al-Shabaab for years, and echoed its words from 2015:

"[Y]et another radical Islamic jihadist army — just like ISIS, the Islamic State — is ruthlessly murdering Christians, targeting them for their faith. This global and historic persecution continues."

The East African Centre for Law & Justice, an ACLJ affiliate, noted: "In the past few years, the Somalia-based terrorist group al-Shabaab carried out attacks in the counties of Mombasa, Mandera, Garissa, Wajir, Lamu, and Tana River and said it had targeted non-Muslims because of their faith.

"In Lamu County, al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for at least 65 deaths, with some witnesses reporting the terrorists asked the religion of victims, killing non-Muslims."

The terrorist group, whose name translates to "The Youth," has been active for over a decade, and has been looking to enforce Sharia law on the regions in Somalia it has gained control of.

Al-Shabaab has specifically been targeting the Church in Kenya, which it accuses of spreading the Christian faith in the region.

The Africa Center for Strategic Studies said in June that al-Shabaab has now become Africa's deadliest terrorist group, surpassing even Nigeria's Boko Haram. Data analyzed showed that al-Shabaab killed over 4,000 people in 2016.

Besides its terrorist activities, the Critical Threats monitoring group warned in April that al-Shabaab has also been targeting vulnerable populations in rural Somalia by providing them with humanitarian aid, as part of a strategy to cultivate support.

"The group is well-positioned to capitalize on devastating drought and impending famine. Al Shabaab seeks to backfill the capabilities gap of the weak central government in Mogadishu that cannot meet the humanitarian needs of millions of its citizens," the report said at the time.

Follow Stoyan Zaimov on Facebook: CPSZaimov