Tag Archives: Somalia

Somalia – Al Shabab weakened but not defeated

DW/allAfrica

Somalia: Victories Over Al Shabab Are Not Bringing Peace

Photo: Phil Moore/IRIN

AMISON convoy

African Union and Somali soldiers are continuing to drive back the Islamist militia al-Shabab. Nevertheless, a durable peace is still not in sight in this country torn apart by decades of civil war.

The forces of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) are reporting one success after the other. On Wednesday (08.10.2014) the commanders announced that Kenyan and Somali government soldiers had “liberated” the southern Somali city of Bula-Gaduud. Only four days earlier, they had taken the port city of Barawe, thereby depriving the Islamist militia al-Shabab of its last base on the coast.

Al-Shabab militants, who only two years ago controlled a broad swathe of Somalia, have been retreating from more than 20,000 advancing AMISOM troops as well as Somali government soldiers, whom the German army is helping to train. In early September a US drone killed al-Shabab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane.

Al-Shabab’s supply line cut off

The recent setbacks may have dealt the militia a decisive blow, the Somali journalist and analyst Mohamed Omar told DW. Although al-Shabab still had other places of refuge in the interior of the country, the loss of Barawe deprived the militants of their most important source of revenue, Omar explained.

The city was a commercial hub which brought the Islamists considerable tax revenue. The export of locally produced charcoal via Barawe’s small port was deemed to be an especially lucrative source of income. Moreover, al-Shabab used the port to obtain arms, ammunition and food.

Situation improves for civilian population

According to Omar, the civilian population welcomes the soldiers’ advance, because the Islamist militia imposed a very strict and therefore unpopular religious regime on the areas under its control.

For the population, the situation had improved noticeably, the German-Somali political scientist and author Abdirizak Sheikh confirmed. This was particularly true for the capital, Mogadishu.

“But the security situation remains precarious,” he warned. The military victories against al-Shabab, Sheikh said, glossed over the fact that the violence in Somalia was not simply going to disappear along with the Islamist organization.

This was because al-Shabab did not consist of foreign jihadists, but of members of various domestic clans. These clans, which included some very powerful families, make up the basic structure of Somali society.

Even if al-Shabab was to fall apart as an organization, the clans would by no means lay down their arms, Sheikh stressed. Instead, they would continue to use force to fight for their particular interests. “As long as the large clans are not disarmed, there will be no peace in Somalia,” he said.

Sheikh criticized that neither the Somali army nor foreign troops were currently disarming people. “These clans with their militias are even represented in the government and in parliament,” Sheikh said.

Al-Shabab has been weakened, but not defeated

Therefore, the government was often not acting in the interest of all Somalis but in that of the large clans.

As evidence of the influence exerted by the heads of these clans, some of whom are allied to al-Shabab, Sheikh cites the case of Hassan Dahir Aweys. The former spiritual leader of al-Shabab was arrested over a year ago. But to this day, he is staying at a hotel in Mogadishu. His influential family is preventing him from being put on trial.

Without meaning to, Western supporters of Somali security forces were even arming various militias in the country, Sheikh said. The government was paying its soldiers very little, and irregularly, too. So many of the soldiers trained by the European training mission, EUTM, defected straight to their respective clan’s militia – and some to al-Shabab – taking all their freshly acquired skills with them.

Somalia – suicide bomber kills 12 in attack on AU troop convoy

BBC

Somalia car bomb suicide attack ‘kills 12′

A suicide car bomber has killed 12 people in an attack aimed at African Union (AU) troops in Somalia, an official has said.

A car laden with explosives was rammed into an AU convoy travelling south-west of the capital, Mogadishu, said local governor Adukadir Mohamed Sidi.

This is the first attack since militant Islamist group al-Shabab vowed to avenge the killing of its leader Ahmed Abdi Godane last week.

He was killed in a US air strike.

“The car packed with explosives hit one of the armoured trucks,” Mr Sidi told Agence France-Presse news agency on Monday.

“Twelve civilians in a minibus were killed, and 27 others were wounded,” he said.

The BBC’s Mohamed Moalimu in Mogadishu says the injured include AU soldiers.

Mr Sidi told him the wounded were being rushed to hospital in Mogadishu.   BBC

Somalia – How will the death of its leader, Ahmed Godane, impact Al Shabaab?

African Arguments

How will the death of its leader, Ahmed Godane, impact Al Shabaab? – By Stig Jarle Hansen

 
 

StigHansenOn the 1st September 2014, at around 19:00, American drones fired several missiles in the Sablaaleh/ Hawaay and Dahay Tubako areas, between 35 and 55 km from Brawa, one of the Somali islamist group Al Shabaab’s remaining strongholds. The drones that fired the missiles targeted Ahmed Abdi Aw Muhammad ‘Godane’, a northern Somali, from the Isaq clan (sub-clan Arab) and the leader of Al Shabaab. The strike was the most recent in several US attacks since the 2013 Westgate attack in Kenya, targeting both Shabaab and Al Qaeda leaders either by killing or snatching them alive.

The Pentagon, Somali authorities, and seemingly the Shabaab themselves (or at least one alleged spokesperson), confirmed the death of Godane. However, there is yet to be an indication of who the other five individuals reported to have died were and whether their deaths will also be significant for the future of the organization.

Somali security sources indicate that both veteran Shabaab commanders Muhammad Abu Abdullah and Sheikh Muhammad Dulyaden were present at the meeting that was hit. Rumours also circulated of the death of Mahad ‘Karate’, the commander that reorganized the Shabaab in Mogadishu after their dreadful defeats in late 2006.

The killing of Godane raises several questions. The first is how it will impact the organization itself, the second is if this will have influences in other areas, for example in Syria and Iraq, were the Islamic State (IS), still remains on the offensive, or in the Borno state of Nigeria, where Boko Haram is now set on conquering and holding permanent territories and have defeated the Nigerian army in several battles.

The attack comes at a time when Al Shabaab was already weakened. The forces of the African union have advanced against the few remaining islamist strongholds inside Somalia, and it seems that it is becoming increasingly difficult for the Shabaab to hold onto territory. The African Union forces that Shabaab now faces are better equipped, trained and superior in numbers.

Shabaab has attempted to address this disparity with terror tactics, and implemented very successful attacks inside Somalia, showing through their operations in Mogadishu that it could survive as a guerilla organization. But battlefield defeats and withdrawals cannot be hidden: Shabaab is on the defensive.

Godane’s death comes on top of this and adds further problems for an organization whose reputation has been tarnished since they started losing ground in 2010. Adding to these problems was, paradoxically, Godane’s victory in the internal power struggle last year, where experienced rivals were either killed (Ibrahim Afghani), or dislodged from the organization (Muktar Robow). This deprived Shabaab of experienced battlefield commanders who would have been valuable in seeing the organization through the troubles the it now faces after the death of its leader.

The rumours after the showdown last year of a weakened ‘Minister of Justice’ for the courts, Fuad Shongole, begging for forgiveness from Godane and of experienced field commander and Godane loyalist, Sheik Yusuuf ‘Kabakutukade,’ being arrested by the Shabaab leadership, seem to indicate at least that Godane was reinforcing command hierarchy in the organization and had assumed a more direct leadership style. If this is true, it will make his death even more serious for Shabaab’s internal organization, as alternatives to him have been weakened.

It does, however, seem like Godane had foreseen the possibility of his own sudden demise. Rumours indicate that a political testament led to the appointment of veteran Ahmed Umar Dirieh, former Shabaab governor of Bay Bakool, to  be his predecessor in a swift process that took only a couple of days. It remains to be seen if sub-commanders will quarrel over the new appointment.

This notwithstanding, there remain many powerful and competent leaders within the group and the African allies either inside or with significant interest in Somalia (Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti, Kenya and Ethiopia) still face a potent threat. Significantly, Shabaab could now aim more directly to hit the United States as an act of revenge.

The worst scenario for the Shabaab would be a prolonged struggle over the leadership inside the organization alienating potential followers. Even in this scenario problems remain for the region as it is unlikely that such a conflict would influence Shabaab affiliated networks inside Kenya and Tanzania. Furthermore, the central government and other regional powers have to live peacefully side by side, something that has worked relatively well for the two last years, but might not continue if there remains no common enemy.

There are also questions regarding the ‘deterrence effect’ of the attack. Some analysts have indicated that Godane was an ‘internationalist’ within Al Shabaab and the showdown last year was between the ‘nationalists’ and ‘internationalists’, thus the killing of Godane could lead to a more inward looking Shabaab. However, Shabaab’s attacks within in the region (there has been no Shabaab attacks outside the region, in fact a plot in Australia was discouraged), have been driven by tactical considerations inside Somalia. Thus Shabaab has hit (or attempted to hit) several of the larger force contributors in Somalia such as Djibouti, Ethiopia, and more successfully Kenya and Uganda.

Under Godane, Shabaab demonstrated a local/regional focus – some of the leaders that he faced in the leadership struggle, such as the American fighter Omar Hamami, were clearly more internationalist than him, even criticising the former for ignoring the foreign fighters in Somalia. It is unlikely that the focus of the group will change markedly because of this, perhaps with the exception an attempt to seek revenge on United States.

Ahmed Godane has now assumed a position on a roster of names that includes Osama bin Ladin and Anwar Awlaki – men that faced the United States and ended up dead. But this deterrence, which was there in Somalia before the killing of Godane (where American attacks have been successful before) has so far not led to tangible results in scaring leaders into peace negotiations or surrendering. The effect is rather that the US has managed to kill a leader at a crucial point in Al Shabaab’s history, when the organization is weakened and more dependent on him than ever. Consequently, Godane’s death will have tactical importance inside Somalia rather than importance as a deterrent for the movement as a whole.

Stig Jarle Hansen is an Associate Professor in International Relations at the University of Life Sciences in Norway. He is the author of Al-Shabaab in Somalia: the history and ideology of a militant islamist group, 2005 – 2012.

Somalia – Al Shabab name new leader after US kill Godane

BBC
Al-Shabab names new leader after Godane death in US strike

Somalia’s Islamist group al-Shabab has named Ahmad Umar as successor to former leader Ahmed Abdi Godane, who was killed in a US air strike.

The group announced the move in an online statement, vowing to take revenge for Godane’s death.

Somalia’s authorities earlier put the country on alert for possible retaliatory attacks by al-Shabab.

The alert came as the US confirmed the death of Godane in air strikes south of Mogadishu on Monday night.

‘Bitter consequences
Little is known about Ahmad Umar, who is also known as Abu Ubaidah.

Abu Mohammed, one of al-Shabab’s commanders, said the decision to appoint him was unanimous.

The US confirmed Godane was killed in an air strike on Monday night south of Mogadishu
In a statement, al-Shabab also warned: “Avenging the death of our scholars and leaders is a binding obligation on our shoulders that we will never relinquish nor forget no matter how long it takes.”

“By the permission of Allah, you will surely taste the bitter consequences of your actions.”

The announcement of the new leader came just minutes after al-Shabab themselves confirmed the death of Godane.

Earlier on Saturday, Somali National Security Minister Kalif Ahmed Ereg told reporters: “Security agencies have obtained information indicating that al-Shabab is now planning to carry out desperate attacks against medical facilities, education centres and other government facilities.”

Mr Ereg “congratulated the Somali people” on Godane’s death, adding: “The security forces are ready to counter their attacks and we call on people to help the security forces in standing against violent acts.”

Ahmed Abdi Godane:

US put $7m (£4m) bounty on his head in 2012
Pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda in 2009
Became al-Shabab’s top commander after US air strike killed his predecessor Aden Hashi Ayro in 2008
Sentenced to death in absentia for 2008 attack in Somaliland’s capital, Hargeisa
Studied in Sudan and Pakistan, where he became radicalised
Said to have fought in Afghanistan
Was reputed to be a good orator and poet
Also known as Mukhtar Abu Zubair
Ahmed Abdi Godane profile

Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud issued a statement on Friday urging militants to embrace peace after the death of their leader.

He announced a 45-day amnesty for militants who were willing to renounce the group.

Godane was one of the US state department’s most wanted men.

It had placed a bounty of $7m (£4.2m) on his head.

An African Union general with an al-Shabab flag after its forces took the town of Buulomareer
The US has supported the African Union (AU) force that has driven al-Shabab out of the capital Mogadishu and other towns since 2011.

The al-Qaeda-linked fighters want to overthrow the UN-backed Somali government and frequently attack government targets as well as neighbouring countries that provide troops to the AU force.

The al-Shabab leader had publicly claimed the group’s responsibility for the deadly Westgate shopping centre attack in Kenya in September last year.

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-29093200

US says they killed Al Shabab leader Godane

BBC
5 September 2014

US confirms al-Shabab leader Ahmed Godane killed

The leader of the Somali Islamist group al-Shabab, Ahmed Abdi Godane, was killed following a US attack earlier this week, the Pentagon has said.

The US carried out air strikes on Monday night destroying a vehicle and an encampment south of the capital.

Somalia’s president issued a statement on Friday urging militants to embrace peace after the death of their leader.

Godane was one of the US state department’s most wanted men.

It had placed a bounty of $7m (£4.2m) on his head.

Somali analyst Nuur Mohamud Sheekh told the BBC that Godane’s death “will deal a major blow to the group.

“It will have an impact in terms of affecting the morale of the fighters on the ground but it is not the end of al-Shabab in the short or medium term.”

He added there was no likely successor.

On Friday, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamed announced a 45-day amnesty for militants who are willing to renounce al-Shabab.

Ahmed Abdi Godane:

US put $7m (£4m) bounty placed on his head by US in 2012
Pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda in 2009
Became al-Shabab’s top commander after US air strike killed his predecessor Aden Hashi Ayro in 2008
Sentenced to death in absentia for 2008 attack in Somaliland’s capital, Hargeisa
Studied in Sudan and Pakistan, where he became radicalised
Said to have fought in Afghanistan
Was reputed to be a good orator and poet
Also known as Mukhtar Abu Zubair
Ahmed Abdi Godane profile

Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm John Kirby said the military action on 1 September had “led to his [Godane's] death”.

The US has supported the African Union (AU) force that has driven al-Shabab out of the capital, Mogadishu, and other towns since 2011.

The al-Qaeda-linked fighters want to overthrow the UN-backed Somali government and frequently attack government targets as well as neighbouring countries that provide troops to the AU force.

Painstaking work
A statement from the White House press secretary described al-Shabab as the “largest al-Qaeda affiliate in Africa”.

Godane’s death “reflects years of painstaking work by our intelligence, military and law enforcement professionals”, Jay Carney’s statement said.

The al-Shabab leader had publicly claimed the group’s responsibility for the deadly Westgate shopping centre attack in September last year, he said.

The African Union force (pictured here) and the Somali army launched a major offensive last weekend

Several towns have been liberated in the push dubbed Operation Indian Ocean

The coastal area between Mogadishu and Kismayo is under al-Shabab’s control giving it access to ports

Al-Shabab fighters, who want an Islamic state, tend to melt into the civilian population when attacked
“Under his leadership, the group has claimed responsibility for many bombings – including various types of suicide attacks – in Mogadishu and in central and northern Somalia, typically targeting officials and perceived allies of the Somali government as well as the former transitional federal government of Somalia.

“Godane has also continued to oversee plots targeting Westerners, including US persons, in East Africa.”

The White House said the US would continue to use the tools at its disposal – “financial, diplomatic, intelligence and military” – to address the threat of al-Shabab and to support the Somali government’s efforts to “build a secure and stable future for the Somali people”.

The US attack, using manned and unmanned aircraft, took place about 240km (150 miles) south of Mogadishu on an encampment and convoy of vehicles – believed to have been made up of three lorries and a smaller vehicle.

It took place days after the 22,000-strong AU force had launched a major offensive to capture territory from the militants in the Lower Shabelle region.

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-29086800

US targets al-Shabaab leader

Bloomberg

U.S. Targets al-Shabaab Leader as Africans Meet on Attacks

Source: AFP/Getty Images

This undated and unlocated picture provided by U.S. website ‘Rewards for Justice’ shows top al-Shabaab leader, Ahmed Abdi Godane also known as Ahmed Abdi Aw-Mohamed.

Source: AFP/Getty Images

This undated and unlocated picture provided by U.S. website ‘Rewards for Justice’ shows top al-Shabaab leader, Ahmed Abdi Godane also known as Ahmed Abdi Aw-Mohamed.

U.S. drones targeted the head of the Islamist insurgent group al-Shabaab in southern Somalia, a regional governor said, as African leaders met in Kenya to discuss ways of dealing with the threat posed by militants.

Ahmed Abdi Godane was among a number of “high-ranking” al-Shabaab officials who were meeting at Dhaytubako, about 300 kilometers (186 miles) southwest of the capital, Mogadishu, when the drones struck late yesterday, Lower Shabelle Governor Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur said in a phone interview today. The Pentagon said in an e-mailed statement that it carried out an operation against al-Shabaab, without providing further details.

“We believe that a large number of senior al-Shabaab officials have been hurt in the attack, but I cannot specifically confirm if Godane was killed,” Mohamed Nur said. “He was among those meeting during the attack.”

Godane, also known as Ahmed Abdi Aw-Mohamed, was named as emir of al-Shabaab in December 2007, according to the United Nations, which lists him among 13 organizations and individuals subject to sanctions. In June 2013, he carried out a purge of dissident leaders to tighten his control over the group, assassinating Ibrahim al-Afghani, a senior al-Shabaab leader who had criticized Godane’s leadership, according to Austin, Texas-based Stratfor Global Intelligence.

In September 2013, Godane claimed responsibility for an attack on the Westgate shopping mall in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, in which at least 67 people died. The U.S. has offered a $7 million reward for information on his whereabouts.

Militants Killed

The Associated Press said that Godane was in one of two vehicles hit in the drone strike, citing Abu Mohammed, a commander of al-Shabaab. Mohammed did not say whether Godane was among six militants killed in the attack, it said.

The U.S. has carried out previous raids in Somalia, including one in January that targeted an unidentified al-Shabaab leader. The group, which is affiliated with al-Qaeda, has been fighting to establish an Islamic state in Somalia since 2006.

No further information is available about yesterday’s strike, Defense Department spokeswoman Lt.-Col. Vanessa Hillman said in an e-mailed response to questions.

African leaders meeting in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, said more concerted action is needed to defeat the threat posed by al-Shabaab and other insurgent groups in Africa. Governments on the continent have failed to take action that is “commensurate” with the threat posed by militant groups, African Union Peace and Security Council Chairman Idriss Deby said at the summit.

‘Terrorist Incidents’

Attacks by militants have left thousands of people dead across the continent. Boko Haram Islamist militants in Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil producer, killed more than 2,000 people in the first half of this year in their campaign to impose Islamic rule, according to Human Rights Watch.

On the other side of the continent, at least 179 people have died in “terrorist incidents” in Kenya, Bath-based risk consultancy Maplecroft said, while in Libya, Islamists are battling for control of the capital, Tripoli.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta announced at the summit that a fund will be created to combat militant groups, without providing further details.

In a statement issued at the end of the meeting, the African Union Peace and Security Council urged its members to work toward preventing recruitment of their nationals into militant groups operating on the continent and other territories like Iraq and Syria.

The council also urged member states to increase their efforts to stop transnational organized crime including drug trafficking so that insurgents don’t gain proceeds from those activities.

To contact the reporters on this story: Mohamed Sheikh Nor in Mogadishu at msheikhnor@bloomberg.net; David Malingha Doya in Nairobi at dmalingha@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net Paul Richardson, Karl Maier

Somalia – US military operation against Al Shabab

Reuters

WASHINGTON Tue Sep 2, 2014

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. military forces carried out an operation on Monday against al Shabaab militants in Somalia, a U.S. Department of Defense spokesman said.

“We are assessing the results of the operation and will provide additional information as and when appropriate,” Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement.

No further details about the operation in the African country were immediately available.

Al Shabaab is an Islamist group affiliated with al Qaeda that wants to impose its own strict version of Islam in Somalia. It ruled most of the southern region of Somalia from 2006 until 2011, when African peacekeeping troops marched into the capital, Mogadishu.

African and Somali forces have regained several towns this year, but rebels still hold other centres and tracts of countryside.  Reuters