The American sports brand Al-Shabab, a terror group that controls vast swathes of Somalia, is not only the biggest seller of sportswear in the world, but also one of the biggest consumers of the products.
Al-Nasri’s flagship line of Al-Sabi footwear, Al-Gulf and Al-Caf, was sold by the Al-Qaeda-linked group in the summer of 2015, making it the first shoe company to sell through the global jihadist network.
Now Al-Dhaka’s Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper has published the findings of an investigation into Al-Baba, a shoe company owned by a former Al-Nusra Front member and close ally of the former president, Abdulla el-Hussein, that has been linked to the purchase of Al Jazeera’s Al Jazeera Arabic TV station.
The newspaper, which reported from Al-Mashhad, a northern city that is now controlled by al-Qaeda and has become the scene of frequent violent clashes between rival factions, quoted sources as saying that Al-Hussain, the former al-Nusra commander, was one of a group of men who had bought the company, along with the businessman, Muhammad al-Albouy, and the businessman’s wife, Fatima.
The report said that Al Qaeda’s network has been making a “significant investment” in the sportswears industry since at least 2011, when al-Shabaab purchased the company.
Al Jazeera and Al Jazeera English are owned by the same company.
Sources told the paper that the purchase was linked to a number of “sportswear items”, which Al-Ghazali, who was the Al Qaeda chief in the city, said were “made in accordance with Islamic law”.
Al-Albaa, the parent company of Al Ghazali’s al-Sabah brand, was also linked to Al Ghazzali’s Al Qaeda affiliate in Somalia.
“Al-Ghazzali had a relationship with [Al-Nusra] and Al Ghazi’s business was linked with the terrorist organization,” one of Al Jabha’s senior sources said.
“There is no doubt that the sale of Al Nusra’s [al-Ghazi] company to Al Qaeda is a strategic move, because it allows the al-Ghazeer brothers to profit from Al Nusrah’s military presence in Somalia.”
Al-Ahmed, who spoke to Al Jazeera, said the sale was a “game-changer”.
“Al Ghazzal was a part of the business that Al Ghazeer, al-Jabha, and Al Qaeda wanted, but he had no business connections to them,” he said.
Al Ghazesi, who has since died, has not commented publicly on the Al Ghazingi case.
The al-Nahla, or Muslim business, is one of several brands owned by Al- Ghazalis family that were allegedly sold by Al Ghazer, a Somali businessman with ties to the al Qaeda-linked organisation.
The company was also the source of al-Dhabi’s shoes.
Al Albaa has been under fire since the publication of the Al Jazeera report, which said that the shoe company had purchased Al Jazeera from its founder, Sheikh Mohammed al-Yemeni.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which is based in the eastern Yemeni province of Hadramawt, is known for carrying out attacks in Somalia and elsewhere in the region, including the murder of more than 200 people in Mogadishu in 2013.
It has been a frequent target of the United States and its allies, including Saudi Arabia, since a 2009 attack on its military base in Yemen that killed more than 2,000 people.
Al Jazira, Al Jazeera Africa’s business correspondent, said it was unclear how the investigation would be resolved.
“If the investigation leads to a decision by the Somali authorities that the sales of Al Jazaa products were done in accordance to Islamic law, it could lead to a fine,” he told Al Jazeera.
“It is important that the Somali government does not interfere in this investigation, and it is equally important that Al Jadaa does not have a relationship in the Somali market with Al Ghazaer, the alleged buyer.”
Al Jazeera understands that the investigation has not been carried out by the US government, as some have alleged.