Puntland military court on Saturday handed over death sentence to five Al-Shabaab operatives after they were intercepted driving a car that was full of explosives in Bosaso.
According to a report by Somali National News Agency (SONNA), the five Al-Qaeda linked operatives in Somalia were on a mission to launch attacks in Bosaso before their mission was thwarted by security forces.
The intelligence led operation saw the following five terror figures arrested and sentenced to death.
The Trump administration has made it clear that the United States will take a more aggressive approach to battling al-Shabaab extremists in Somalia.
In March, President Trump granted the military expanded authorities to operate in Somalia, paving the way for an accelerated military campaign.
By declaring parts of Somalia an “area of active hostilities,” Mr. Trump gave the Department of Defense authority to approve strikes without going through an Obama-era vetting process, which potentially lowers the bar for tolerance of civilian casualties. And the head of American forces in Africa, who advocated the change, said this would “allow us to prosecute targets in a more rapid fashion.”
The United States also recently sent several dozen additional troops to Somalia and reportedly requested information on the locations of aid groups there, possibly to ensure they are out of the way of airstrikes. One American soldier was killed in Somalia this month, the first combat death there since 1993.
There is little to be gained by making intensified military engagement the dominant policy approach to Somalia. The absence of an effective state is the fundamental problem there. When and where there is some semblance of governance, it is often profoundly corrupt and subservient to a deeply ingrained clan system. Al-Shabaab capitalizes on resentment of government ineptitude, corruption and lack of economic opportunity to recruit, especially among Somalia’s youth.
Airstrikes do nothing to address these failures. Instead, they may create more problems by allowing African Union forces to retreat, further militarize American policy, sideline diplomatic engagement and undercut the newly elected Somali president.
After making notable progress for several years, troops from Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Djibouti and Burundi fighting al-Shabaab under an African Union banner have slowed the pace of their offensives. Some in Washington and the region mistakenly assume that regional forces will match new American aggression.
But the danger is that countries like Kenya and Ethiopia, which have substantial contingents of troops in Somalia, could instead pull back and let America do the fighting. With elections scheduled for August, Kenya’s leadership is reluctant to risk casualties that would incur political blowback. Ethiopia has already pulled some troops from Somalia as the country endures significant domestic turmoil.
Without their support, the nascent Somali Army is unlikely to make significant advances and cannot hold territory claimed from al-Shabaab.
For the United States, there is a risk that accelerating military operations will widen the significant gap between American military and diplomatic engagement. Most American diplomats working on Somalia are based in Nairobi and take short trips to the capital, Mogadishu, where they are largely confined to the airport complex.
This constrains diplomats’ ability to work with the Somali government and other influential Somalis, to help critical ministries and emerging state governments build their capacity and to oversee humanitarian assistance provided in response to a continuing, crippling drought.
More military operations could mean more boots on the ground, which risks the handful of American diplomats being reduced to playing second fiddle in engagements with Somalis, especially outside Mogadishu.
An accelerated United States military campaign also risks undercutting Somalia’s newly elected president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, who — like his predecessors — has declared war on al-Shabaab but also offered amnesty to Shabaab fighters.
Last year an American airstrike intended for al-Shabaab instead hit government-aligned militia forces in northern Somalia, killing at least 10 soldiers. The United States was accused of being tricked by a Somali faction into making the strike against its rivals. More strikes may invite further such efforts by factions.
Collateral damage can serve as a potent recruiting tool for al-Shabaab, which maintains the ability to organize significant hit-and-run attacks.
Cuts in American development and diplomacy budgets will also compromise the United States’ ability to support President Mohamed at precisely the time he needs to demonstrate results.
While the Trump administration’s plan for assistance to Somalia remains unclear, in the current fiscal year the nation is slotted to receive over $196 million in foreign assistance. This does not include substantial humanitarian aid, over a billion dollars, provided to the wider Horn of Africa region in response to the continuing drought and threat of famine.
Instead of bombing, the United States can do much more to support a stable and prosperous Somalia. Vital federal ministries need guidance and oversight, including through embedding international and diaspora experts in those ministries and close scrutiny of their expenditures.
Encouragingly, several of the planned six state governments are getting on their feet and showing a nascent ability to govern. American diplomats should focus as much of their attention and resources on these states as they do on Mogadishu, be present in the states to show support and encourage President Mohamed to fully commit to the federal structure.
The fledgling Somali Army needs continued and accelerated American training. That army seeks to grow to 18,000 troops and begin taking over from African Union forces next year. President Mohamed is requesting that a longstanding arms embargo be lifted to better equip the army. American training has been effective in developing a small group of elite Somali commando forces known as Danab, support that should continue and expand as capable new recruits are identified.
And United States diplomats need enhanced facilities and greater mobility to engage Somalis nationwide. Given the large sums rightly being devoted to countering potential famine, including $990 million recently allocated by Congress to Somalia and three other countries, American diplomats and development professionals need to be on the ground to oversee programming and minimize corruption.
These lines of effort should be the centerpiece of American strategy for Somalia. Progress on these fronts will ultimately deliver a stronger blow to al-Shabaab and its terrorist recruitment than any airstrikes.
SNA military court on Thursday executed an Al-Shabaab terrorist behind the killing of a senior security officer in Middle Shabelle last year.
According to the court, deputy prosecutor, Mumin Hussein Abdullahi, the court carried out his execution by firing squad in Mogadishu’s Police Academy field.
The court executed the terror figure identified as Yusuf Hussein Mohamud (24), a terrorist soldier who was found guilty for the killing of Abdiweli Ibrahim, the security chief of Middle Shabelle region on June 21, 2016.
Mohamud execution comes after Somali military court on May 18 executed Abdukadir Abdi Hassan, Al-Shabaab militant who was found guilty of carrying out a terror attack in Waberi district in November last year.
Al Shabaab explosives expert Ahmed Abdi yare and his terrorism paraphernalia
Kenya Defence Force (KDF) have dealt militant group al-Shabaab a heavy blow after capturing one of its senior commanders. KDF working alongside Kenyan counter terrorism operatives captured Ahmed Abdi Yare near the Kenya-Somalia border. Yare, was al-Shabaab’s deputy commander for its Jay Al-Usr brigades based in Gedo region of Somalia.
Yare was captured in the joint operation after a raid in Gherille area on Wednesday night, May 24. According to the Kenya Police Service, the suspect is an explosive expert and is responsible for several Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attacks in Northern Kenya that has claimed lives of security agents and civilians. TUKO.co.ke has learnt that a pocket radio, AK-47 rifle, rounds of ammunition, a military jungle jacket, and hunting knife were recovered from the suspect. The suspect is also said have been in possession several high grade explosives that could kill more than a dozen people in an attack.
When Salama Ali started investigating the disappearance of two younger brothers last year she made an awful discovery – not only were radicalised young Kenyan men leaving to join the al-Shabab militants in neighbouring Somalia, but women were being seized and trafficked by the group as sex slaves.
Salama’s search for information about her brothers had to be carried out quietly and confidentially, as any hint of a connection with the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab can arouse the suspicion of the security forces.
So she met discreetly with other women in Mombasa and the surrounding area, sharing stories and seeking information about male relatives who had vanished.
“We discovered there were lots of us,” Salama says.
But Salama also uncovered something very different – stories of women who had been taken to Somalia against their will.
The women were both young and old, from Christian and Muslim communities, from Mombasa and other parts of Kenya’s coastal region. They were usually promised high-paid work in another town or abroad, and then kidnapped.
Last September Salama trained as a counsellor and set up a secret support group for returning women. Word spread and soon women began seeking her out and asking to join the group.
Some arrived with babies, she says, some with HIV, and some with mental illness caused by their experiences. All are terrified to speak openly, because of the risk of being mistakenly identified as an al-Shabab sympathiser.
In a dark room with the curtains drawn, I meet this extraordinary group of women, who have a story that has never been told.
“Men used to come and have sex with me – I can’t tell you the number,” says one, shaking her head as she recounts her ordeal. “For those three years, every man was coming to sleep with me.”
“They’d bring two or three men for each woman every night,” says another. “We would be raped repeatedly.”
Some women were forced to become the “wives” of al-Shabab militants, it appears, while others were held as slaves in a brothel.
Al-Shabab is fighting to create a fundamentalist Islamic state in Somalia and has launched attacks on neighbouring countries, which have all sent troops to fight them as part of an African Union force.
Kenya has borne the brunt of al-Shabab’s counter-attacks, and the Kenyan army is hunting fighters in the thick Boni Forest that straddles the border with Somalia.
Flying over it, you can see lines cut through it – narrow pathways that militants apparently use for transport. The BBC has spoken to more than 20 women and all talk of being held in a thick forest or transported through it. This is most likely to be Boni.
One new member of Salama’s group, Faith, has only recently escaped captivity.
She was 16 when she was approached by an elderly couple and offered a job in Malindi, further up the coast. Desperate for work, the next day she boarded a bus with 14 other passengers and all were given drugged water to drink.
“When we regained consciousness, there were two men inside the room,” Faith says. “They blindfolded us with black scarves. They raped us in that room.”
Drugged again, Faith woke up in a small clearing in a dark forest and was told she would be killed if she tried to escape.
Terrified, she spent the next three years alone cooking a group of Somali men “with long long beards”.
She had also become pregnant, as a result of being raped, and had to deliver her own child alone in the forest.
“My grandmother was a traditional midwife, so I had a little bit of knowledge,” she says. “Everything I was doing in that forest was alone, so I just had to get out this baby alone.”
Faith finally managed to escape with her daughter when a traditional healer foraging for medicinal roots in the forest came across her and showed her the way out. Her child, who grew up naked in the forest, now finds it hard to adapt to city life and struggles to fall asleep at night unless she is outside in her mother’s arms.
She grew accustomed to “living like we were animals in the forest”, Faith says.
A number of the women who spoke to the BBC had given birth in captivity.
Sarah, the wife of a former al-Shabab fighter, says this is no coincidence. There is an organised programme to breed the next generation of fighters, she says, as it’s hard to recruit people to live in camps in Somalia, and children are easy to indoctrinate.
“In my camp, there [were] women who are sent to come and recruit other women,” Sarah says. “They want to multiply so they just want women to give birth.”
Most of the 300 women in her camp were Kenyan, she says.
Salama also provides support to those who have lost family members, including Elizabeth, who last saw her sister two years ago, before she left for what she thought was a job in Saudi Arabia.
A month later, she called.
“She told us she was in a dangerous and bad place in Somalia, in an al-Shabab camp,” says Elizabeth. The line broke – and her sister has not been heard from since.
The Kenyan government acknowledges there is a problem but Evans Achoki, the county commissioner in Mombasa, says it’s hard to judge the scale of it, because the women won’t come forward.
While there is an amnesty programme for fighters returning from Somalia, and some have been rehabilitated, there are also reports of men who have suddenly disappeared, or been shot dead.
“People fear the government,” says Sureya Hersi of Sisters Without Borders, a network of Kenyan organisations working to counter radical extremism in Kenya’s coastal region.
“Those who went there willingly and unwillingly are both looked at as guilty.”
The names of all women in this story have been changed for their security
An affiliate of the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in northern Somalia on Tuesday, the group’s first attack in the country for months and a sign of the battle for supremacy between militant groups.
A lone bomber blew himself up at a police checkpoint in Puntland, a semiautonomous region in northern Somalia, killing five people and injuring 12 others, a local governor told Reuters. The bomber was reportedly stopped by a soldier before he could reach his target.
A statement published on ISIS’s Amaq News Agency on Tuesday claimed responsibility for the attack, which it said was carried out by one of its fighters. The bombing appears to be the first carried out by the small ISIS faction since February, when a statement on Amaq claimed responsibility for a gun attack on a hotel in Bosaso, a port city in Puntland, in which several hotel security guards and militants were killed.
ISIS lags behind Al-Shabab, Somalia’s main Islamist group, in terms of size and influence in the country. Al-Shabab, which has ties to Al-Qaeda, grew out of the now defunct Islamic Courts Union, which seized control of the Somali capital Mogadishu in 2006 only to be ousted by Ethiopian forces later that year.
The leadership of ISIS in the Middle East has made overtures to Al-Shabab, encouraging the group to switch allegiance. But Al-Shabab’s chiefs have rejected the advances and the group’s feared intelligence agency, known as the Amniyat, have conducted brutal purges of fighters suspected of loyalty to ISIS.
Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, elected in February, has declared war on Al-Shabab. The president announced a 60-day amnesty in April for disaffected Al-Shabab fighters, urging them to lay down their weapons and promising to reintegrate them into Somali society.
But the group’s leadership rejected the amnesty, and Al-Shabab shows no signs of slowing its attacks: fighters from the group reportedly attacked more than a dozen villages in southern Somalia on Tuesday in an apparent bid to disrupt a planned offensive by Somali and African Union forces to liberate the region.
There has also been an uptick in international support for Somalia’s battle with militancy in recent months. The U.K. hosted a global conference in London earlier in May, at which Somalia and its partners agreed a new security pact aimed at bringing peace to the country, which has witnessed more than two decades of conflict since civil war broke out in the early 1990s.
U.S. President Donald Trump has also deployed U.S. troops to Somalia for the first time in more than 20 years and given American security advisors more scope to carry out drone strikes against Al-Shabab. Washington has orchestrated at least 42 strikes in Somalia since 2007, according to the Bureau for Investigative Journalism.