Tag Archives: Somalia

Somalia – Al Shabab intelligence chief said to have been killed in drone strike

A leader of the al-Shabab Islamist group was killed by a US air strike on Monday, Somali officials say.

The intelligence chief, named as Abdishakur, was part of a unit responsible for suicide attacks, security officials said.

US defence chiefs did not confirm whether the al-Shabab leader had died.

Washington has supported an African Union (AU) force which has driven the fundamentalist group from strongholds across the country since 2011.

On Monday the US said it had targeted a “senior leader” of al-Shabab in the area of Saakow, about 320km (200 miles) west of the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

In a statement, the defence department said it was “assessing the results of the operation”.

But Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency said on Tuesday that the air strike had killed a militant it identified as Abdishakur, also known as Tahliil.

It said he had just replaced al-Shabab’s former intelligence chief, who was arrested a few days ago.

The agency added that two other al-Shabab members had also died in the joint US-Somali operation.

The development came three days after another top al-Shabab militant, Zakariya Ahmed Ismail Hersi, gave himself up to the Somali government.

Mr Hersi, a leading figure in the militant group’s intelligence wing, surrendered to police in the Gedo region.

In June 2012, the US state department offered $3m (£1.9m; 2.5m euros) for information leading to his capture.



Somalia – US air strikes targeting al Shabab leader

The US says it has conducted an air strike against the Islamist insurgent group al-Shabab in Somalia.

Its target was a “senior leader” in the area of Saakow, according to a statement by the US defence department.

“At this time, we do not assess there to be any civilian or bystander casualties,” it said.

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

In September, al-Shabab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane was killed in a US air strike.

The US did not identify the leader targeted in the latest strike or say whether the strike was successful.

The statement continued: “We are assessing the results of the operation and will provide additional information, when appropriate, as details become available.”

The air strike came two days after top al-Shabab militant, Zakariya Ahmed Ismail Hersi, gave himself up.

Mr Hersi, a leading figure in the militant group’s intelligence wing, surrendered to police in the Gedo region.

In June 2012, the US state department offered $3m (£1.9m; 2.5m euros) for information leading to his capture.

Somali army has been fighting al Shabab



Somalia: UN ‘outraged’ by deadly terrorist car bomb attack in Mogadishu


UN News Service

Somalia: UN ‘outraged’ by deadly terrorist car bomb attack in Mogadishu

A street scene in Mogadishu, the Somali capital. Photo: AU-UN IST/Stuart Price

 The United Nations Security Council and Secretary-General expressed outrage today over an Al-Shabaab terrorist attack in Mogadishu this morning that damaged a convoy of UN vehicles and killed and injured several Somali bystanders and security personnel.

“There can be no justification for terrorism or such attacks,” the UN chief said in a statement issued by his spokesman. The Secretary-General also reaffirmed the UN’s strong commitment to working with the people and Government of Somalia to help rebuild peace and prosperity for all Somalis.

In a statement to the press issued later in the day, the members of the Security Council strongly condemned the attack, reaffirming that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security, and that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable regardless of their motivation, wherever and whenever and by whomsoever committed.

The Council also reiterated its determination to combat all forms of terrorism, underlining the need to bring perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of such reprehensible acts of terrorism to justice. Underlining their support and gratitude to all UN staff in Somalia, they also reiterated that this or any other attack by Al Shabaab would not dent their resolve to support the people of Somalia

According to the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), no staff were injured in the attack, which took place at approximately 9:40 am, and investigations into the bombing continue, with no group as yet claiming responsibility.

In other news from Somalia, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia, Nicholas Kay, welcomed the inauguration of Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan as the head of the newly formed Interim South West Administration.

Somalia – major bomb attack at Mogadishu airport


Somalia bomb: Several killed near airport

mogadishu blast 3 december 2014The airport has been targeted by al-Shabab bomb attacks in the past

Several people have been killed in a suicide car bomb blast next to a UN convoy in Somalia, police say.

The bomber drove between the convoy and its security escort near the airport in the capital, Mogadishu, police said.

The United Nations and the British and Italian embassy compounds are based in the nearby area.

No group has claimed responsibility but the al-Shabab militant group, linked to al-Qaeda, has often carried out bomb attacks.

“The explosion was very big and there is smoke all around the area. I can hardly see people lying on the ground, either dead or wounded,” witness Shamso Idle told AFP news agency.

The blast comes a day after al-Shabab militants killed 36 non-Muslim quarry workers in Kenya near the northern town of Mandera.

The blamed the involvement of Kenyan forces in Somalia “and their ongoing atrocities therein, such as the recent air strikes on Muslims”.

Somalia – Al Shabab weakened but not defeated


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


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.