Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Friday, October 10, 2014
Wednesday, October 8, 2014
Monday, October 6, 2014
Somali Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed
Fadlan lifaaqa hoose kala baxa codka Shirka Jaraa'id ee Ra'iisul Wasaaraha iyo laamaha amnigu uga hadlayeen howlgallada ka socda dalka, gaar ahaan qabashada degmada Baraawe oo ahayd xaruntii ugu weynayd Al-shabaab.
Somali Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed say about 1,000 Somali forces and African peacekeepers have retaken the southern port of Barawe, the last major port held by Islamist al-Shabab fighters.
The key port, located 240 kilometers south of the capital, Mogadishu, had been held by al-Shabab since 2008. The insurgents controlled the port to export $25 million worth of charcoal a year to Persian Gulf countries, which they used to fund their fight against the internationally backed government.
Somali military official Abdi Mire said Sunday government forces are "in full control" of Barawe. Authorities said the al-Shabab militiamen fled by land and sea as the government troops approached the city.
The loss of Barawe comes just a month after al-Shabab's supreme leader, Ahmed Abdi Godane, was killed in a U.S. drone and aircraft strike.
An al-Shabab commander, Mohamed Abu Abdallah, vowed Saturday that even if the insurgents lost Barawe, they would continue their attacks on Somali troops and the peacekeeping forces drawn from six African Union nations.
While controlling Barawe, al-Shabab applied its strict interpretation of Islamic sharia law, ordering executions, floggings and amputations for various crimes.
October 5, 2014: The AU (African Union) led offensive against remaining al Shabaab held towns in the interior and along the coasts that began in early 2013 has accomplished about 75 percent of its goals. The peacekeeper commander believes that the rest of the active Islamic terrorists can be captured, killed or driven out of the country within a year. Al Shabaab men are increasingly fleeing the approaching AU and government forces and many of the Islamic terrorists are surrendering or simply deserting and returning to their home villages. A government amnesty program, which keeps getting extended, has been successful in getting a lot of low-level al Shabaab men to surrender. There are still believed to be at least 3,000 al Shabaab men in Somalia, including several hundred foreigners. At least a third of the remaining al Shabaab men are hard core and unlikely to surrender or desert.
Currently al Shabaab is still recovering from the death of their leader on September 2nd. The new leader has similar hard line goals as his predecessor. But dissident factions have forced the new leader to at least discuss reforms (to reduce the number of assassinations and civilian casualties in order to gain more popular support). The hardliners who have been running al Shabaab for the last few years are under pressure because their tactics appear to have resulted in heavy losses for the organization and a lot more hostility from most Somalis. The recent loss of port towns like Adale and Barawe have greatly reduced al Shabaab income and their ability to move in and out of the country. This cash shortage can be seen in action as peacekeepers report that in the last month or so al Shabaab men looted stores and homes when they were ordered to flee as peacekeepers approached. This looting was planned in advance and kept secret so that merchants would not hide a lot of their goods.
In the southeast (lower Shabelle region) peacekeepers and soldiers have been on the offensive against al Shabaab forces there since August and over 500 of the Islamic terrorists have surrendered while over a hundred have been killed or wounded. More than a thousand simply fled the approaching government forces and avoided contact with them. Al Shabaab has avoided fighting the government forces, who are better armed and equipped than the Islamic terrorists and usually win big when al Shabaab stays to fight. So the Islamic terrorists have adopted a strategy of avoiding the government forces and returning to terror attacks only.
As if the government didn’t enough problems they have had to contend with more soldiers and police becoming less effective over the last few months because of cheaper khat. Britain banned the import and use of the tropical plant khat in July, joining most other European nations and many in the Middle East. Even the UN has identified khat as a dangerous substance. This has brought joy to Somalia, where khat producers, having lost a major customer for khat exports has been selling a lot more of it in Somalia and at bargain (at least 50 percent less) prices. While this is great for all the soldiers, militiamen and gangsters who spend a lot of time sitting around waiting for some action, these guys become more unpredictable when under the influence of khat. Moreover, men with guns are the wrong people to turn into khat addicts. Khat is very addictive and an armed man with a desperate need for more khat will do crazy things to obtain the cash to buy more of the stuff. Wives complain that husbands will spend all their money on khat and ignore their starving children. It is believed that recent accusations of soldiers and peacekeepers abusing women is in part due to khat use.
Since August Kenya has deployed thousands of troops to man additional checkpoints on roads leading from the Somali border. This has made it much more difficult for Somali smugglers to get weapons and drugs into Kenya. While the smugglers can (and usually do) bribe the border guards, the additional check points are manned by many troops who refuse to take bribes and that makes getting truckloads of goods into Kenya much more difficult. The smugglers are now relying more on ships and small loads carried cross country on motorcycles or pack animals.
October 4, 2014: Al Shabaab fled the coastal town of Barawe (200 kilometers south of Mogadishu) as government forces approached.
October 1, 2014: Peacekeepers and soldiers drove al Shabaab out of the port town of Adale (200 kilometers northeast of Mogadishu).
In the north (Puntland) government forces attacked an al Shabaab base and killed over twenty of the Islamic terrorists while losing at least three soldiers. Since the 1990s the two statelets that comprise northern Somalia (Puntland and Somaliland) have been coming apart because of internal problems. Despite that, northern Somalia has been better governed since breaking away from Somalia in the 1990 to form Puntland (2.5 million people) and Somaliland (3.5 million). The other two-thirds of the Somali population to the south, has been in perpetual chaos since 1990. The two statelets have a festering border dispute that periodically flares into armed clashes. Puntland has had al Shabaab groups camping out near the southern border for several years. The number of al Shabaab men there has increased to several hundred this year as more of the Islamic terrorists flee the continuing government offensive in the south. Puntland recently decided to forget about trying to tolerate the al Shabaab presence and went on the offensive against the Islamic terrorists. The al Shabaab men in Puntland have few resources and are vulnerable. A growing number of them are returning south and surrendering to the government there.
September 27, 2014: The government offered a $2 million reward for information leading to the arrest or death of Ahmed Omar Abu Ubeyd, the new al Shabaab leader. The identity of those receiving the reward would be kept secret.
September 26, 2014: In the south (Barawe) al Shabaab carried out a public execution (by stoning) of a woman accused of having three husbands.
In Kenya the government, for the first time, closed a madrassa (religious school) for teaching Islamic radicalism. The school was in a Moslem neighborhood in the town of Machakos (60 kilometers outside the capital). The school had been operating since 1997 and recently 21 former students were arrested for joining al Shabaab.
September 25, 2014: In the central Somali town of Galkayo there was a gun battle between former pirates who had recently received $1.6 million in ransom for one of the few valuable captives still held by pirates. At least three of the pirates were killed and one group made off with the cash. No big ships (that can be ransomed for a lot of money) have been taken in over two years and few pirates are still trying. Most have found other employment (usually fishing or smuggling people into Yemen). Some pirate gangs still holding captives have fled to inland areas to continue waiting for their ransom demands to be met. Most of the captives still held are from poor families who cannot afford a ransom and are from countries that will not pay.
September 24, 2014: In the north (Puntland) the government is using satellite photos to prove that foreign fishing ships (usually from East Asian countries) are illegally fishing in Somali coastal waters. This led to the recent seizure of four South Korean ships which although they had permits to fish in Somali waters were photographed working in areas they were not supposed to be in and thus leaving local Somali fishermen with little or nothing to catch. The foreign ships with permits are supposed to operate far off shore, where the smaller Somali fishing boats rarely venture. The companies who own the four ships will have to pay fines to get them released, which is standard international practice in cases like this.
September 23, 2014: Pirates in central Somalia freed a German-American journalist after receiving a $1.6 million ransom. While the U.S. refused to pay ransom for the journalist, the Germans were willing (because the captive was a dual citizen of Germany and the United States) but refused to pay the $5 million the pirates had been demanding since they seized the man in January 2012. Fearing an American commando raid to free their captive, the pirates agreed to lower their demands and settled on $1.6 million which was delivered via Somali middlemen. The pirates were actually out of the piracy business and hiding out in central Somalia. But with government forces continuing to regain control over interior Somalia, it was only a matter of time before they showed up at the pirate hideout. This journalist was the only valuable captive they had left and now the pirates could use the money to flee.
September 21, 2014: In Kenya an opinion poll showed that over 65 percent of Kenyans believe that al Shabaab will carry out more major terror attacks in Kenya and over half believed that Kenyan troops should be withdrawn from Somalia to provide more forces for counter-terror operations in Kenya.
September 20, 2014: In Mogadishu al Shabaab gunmen shot dead three Somali engineers working for the AU.
September 14, 2014: In Uganda a series of police raids resulted in the arrest of 19 Somali men and the seizure of explosives to be used in an al Shabaab terror attack. The Islamic terrorist group has been threatening to carry out attacks in Uganda as revenge for all the Ugandan peacekeepers serving in Somalia.
September 13, 2014: In Mogadishu al Shabaab gunmen killed the deputy commander of a counter-terrorism unit. The Islamic terrorists claimed this was revenge for the recent death of their leader (via an American missile fired by a UAV) on September 2nd.
September 9, 2014: Al Shabaab used a mortar to fire several shells into a residential neighborhood in the outskirts of Mogadishu. Five civilians were wounded.
September 8, 2014: An al Shabaab roadside bomb killed about 16 civilians 30 kilometers south of Mogadishu.
AQAP (Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) announced its support for the new head of al Shabaab in Somalia. AQAP and other al Qaeda branches are hoping that the new al Shabaab leadership does not declare its allegiance to the far more radical (and al Qaeda rival) ISIL (al Qaeda in Iraq and Syria).
September 7, 2014: The government replaced its National Security Director, who had held the office for only two months. No reason was given and his deputy took over temporarily and then a former member of the supreme court took the job.
September 6, 2014: Al Shabaab announced that hardliner Ahmed Omar Abu Ubeyd was their new leader.
Monday, September 29, 2014
TO THE ATTENTION OF THE PUBLIC OPINION
September 30, 2014
Turkey, who had started quite intense humanitarian assistance for Somalia in 2011, is still maintaining this mission continuously, and building a strong brotherhood bridge between the Somalian community and Turkish community.
This mobilization, which is being operated via public establishments, private companies and humanitarian aid foundations, is being consolidated with unconditional support for Somalia in the international platforms also. The only reason behind Turkey’s self-devotion, is its idea of contributing to the Muslim Somalian public’s prosperity and Somali state’s consistency.
Turkey’s aid campaign aimed at Somalia had been started by newspapers and TV channels that are connected to the Albayrak Group, and reached a peak with our President Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Somalia.
Within this frame, Mosques, hospitals, schools, water wells, orphanages and roads are being constructed. Again, within this frame, construction of airports and works in the municipal field are ongoing. The Somalian army is receiving professional army trainings by the Turkish General Staff, and Somalian students are being offered scholarships in Turkey.
Turkey’s aid campaign mobilization aimed at Somalia is being constituted as an example on an international level, and this support is injecting a strong Somali love to Turkey’s public opinion.
Our President Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, government, business world and Turkey’s public opinion is supporting these studies from their hearts, and thus, motivating our corporations and aid organizations. These aids had provided business options to countless Somalians, and caused a serious dynamism in the country’s economy.
Turkey’s interest, love and contribution oriented in Somalia are continuing by increasing exponentially.
Within this frame, the Albayrak Group had taken on an active role in Somalia’s development. Since August 2012, much work has been conducted towards rehabilitating the Port of Mogadishu and is still continues, in order to transform it into a sea port that has international quality, elevating it to a central position in the Somalia and African economy.
Despite the fact that the Port of Mogadishu is the only employment and source of income potential in the country, it had been confirmed that the state could not gain any resource from here. As for the Albayrak Group, they had promised that without any conditions, they would be transferring 55% of the revenue from the Port.
As for the 45% revenue which is left for the Group’s administration; it is reserved for the international promotion directed at increasing machine equipment investments, construction investments, new docks and port-based trade.
The Albayrak Group is in an endeavor towards turning the Port of Mogadishu into a key address in the African economy and international market. In order for every process to be recorded and every operation to be healthy, it’s essential to establish a system, and to conduct the process according to these principles. Our Group had actualized the 1st investment phase with this objective. From now on, the ISPS application will be made by establishing a closed circuit camera system and an environment wall construction that is appropriate to the international security protocols. Besides, a modern port administration building will be constructed, and the psychical conditions will be increased to the highest level for service procurements. The entrance channels of ships, which are entering the port, will be cleaned with underwater surveillance, and in order to increase the capacity, the 2nd phase equipment investments will be made.
After these studies, our Somalian Muslim brothers’ exportation to Turkey, East Africa and content-wide will increase, and this will become prominent as a serious contribution towards increasing the level of prosperity.
While the Albayrak Group is making these investments, some circles within the Somali Parliament, despite the fact that we had explained all the realities to them, for the sake of holding onto the income they had gained just for their selves, are attempting every kind of provocation. They are conducting this via a group, which had been exploiting people for years.
Our group has no commercial expectation from this contract. The Albayrak Group’s objective is to support the Somalian community. The Turkish community’s unrequited aids are also for this. The Albayrak Group will be continuing this support, which they had conducted, without any commercial expectation until this day, without paying any mind to these circles. Though, the attempts of these foreign supported segments being oriented in breaking the motivation of Turkey will be shared with the Somalian public opinion.
Respectfully announced to the Somali public.
THE PORT OF
operated by Albayrak
Thursday, September 25, 2014
Today, the State Department added a number of jihadist commanders and operatives to the US' list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists. In addition to the four al Qaeda leaders, an Al Nusrah Front commander, the leader of the Junud al Islam, and terrorist groups Jaish al Muhajireen wal Ansar and Harakat Sham al-Islam, State added three Islamic State commanders and a Shabaab leader to its terrorism list. Below are State's summaries of the Shabaab and Islamic State leaders.
As of mid-July 2014, Amru al Absi was selected as ISIL's provincial leader for Homs, Syria, in the Aleppo region. As a principal leader of ISIL in Syria, he has been in charge of kidnappings.Salim Benghalem is a Syria-based French extremist and ISIL member, who carries out executions on behalf of the group. In 2007, Salim was convicted and sentenced to prison in France for a 2001 murder. Today, Benghalem is the subject of a European arrest warrant because of his activities on behalf of ISIL.Lavdrim Muhaxheri is a Kosovar Albanian foreign fighter for ISIL who operates in both Syria and Iraq. Muhaxheri made international headlines in July 2014 after uploading to Facebook graphic photos of himself beheading a young man.Maalim Salman was chosen by now-deceased al-Shabaab leader Ahmed Abdi aw-Mohamed (aka Godane) to be the head of African foreign fighters for al-Shabaab. He has trained foreign nationals who were seeking to join al-Shabaab as foreign fighters, and has been involved in operations in Africa targeting tourists, "entertainment establishments," and churches.
For more information on the other designations released today by State, see LWJ reports, US adds Chechen, Moroccan-led jihadist groups to terrorist list, and US government designations target al Qaeda's international network.
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Somali PM back in Mogadishu after trip to Europe ,UK, Norway and Turkey ,More details on his recent trip to Europe
Somali Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed on Wednesday returned to the Somali capital, Mogadishu and gave more details about his recent trip to Britain and Norway.
Speaking on his trip to Britain, the prime minister said that he and his delegation including defense minister attended a meeting with the international partners in London to discuss ways to enhance Somalia’s security sector and the national army.
The prime minister said Somalia needs a strong army to defend the country and take over the internal security of the country from the African Union troops when their mandate comes to an end.
He added they have designed new measures to regulate the rebuilding process of the national army.
While speaking on his visit to Norway, the prime minister said he met with senior Norwegian government officials and asked Norwegian government to assist Somalia in holding fair and free elections in 2016.
He also stated to have asked the Norwegian officials to support his government’s efforts to conclude the review process of the constitution, improving the judiciary system and assisting his government in creating job opportunities for the youth to prevent them from joining armed groups in the country.
Monday, September 22, 2014
Somali Prime Minister H.E Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed has called on Somali community members in Norway to return home and take part the rebuilding process of the country.
Speaking at a meeting with the Somali community members in Norwegian capital of Oslo, the prime minister urged the community to play their part in helping the government execute its plans and fulfill its promises.
“We are making progress towards free and fair elections which will allow Somali people to choose their leaders,” said the prime minister.
“We organized reconciliation conferences to give Somali people a chance to forgive each other and to establish inclusive federal states in the country in preparation for the 2016 elections.” He added.
Some members of the Somali community in Norway who spoke at the meeting with the prime minister lauded the government for its efforts to restore peace, security and good governance in the country.
Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed and his delegation arrived in Norway days after he met with Somalia’s international partners in London over the rebuilding of the Somali security sector and the national army as the war against al Shabaab militants intensifies.
Friday, September 19, 2014
The Pirates of Puntland: An al-Shabaab emir by any other name...: Back when I was following al-Shabaab more closely, I found it useful to have a visual representation of the organisation, which took th...
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Monday, September 15, 2014
Monday, 15 September 2014
Ugandan police said Sunday that suspected Islamist Shabaab insurgents arrested in weekend raids had planned to carry out bomb attacks, as the U.S. embassy said the immediate threat had been “countered.”
Police raids on Saturday came two weeks after Ugandan troops, fighting in Somalia, reportedly provided intelligence that helped U.S. Special Forces kill the Shabaab’s chief in a devastating air strike.
“Al-Shabaab planned to carry out attacks in Kampala and other towns over the weekend, but police working with sister agencies stopped these attacks and we have recovered the explosives they were to use,” police chief Kale Kayihura told AFP.
“We have arrested a number of suspects and they are being interrogated,” he said, without giving further details on the number arrested or the targets they had planned to attack.
The U.S. embassy on Sunday lifted warnings to its citizens to stay at home, but said people should remain vigilant.
“Based on coordination with Ugandan authorities, and taking into account the heightened security measures the government has put in place, we believe that the immediate threat of an al-Shabaab attack has been effectively countered,” the embassy said in a statement.
“We remain vigilant to the possibility that some of the attack cell could still be at large.”
Last Monday the U.S. embassy warned that al-Shabaab insurgents may try to exact revenge for a U.S. air strike that killed the militant group’s commander.
“Stay alert to the ongoing potential for terrorist attacks in Uganda,” it said.
“We also caution U.S. citizens of the possibility of retaliatory attacks in Uganda by Al-Shabaab in response to the U.S. and Ugandan military actions in Somalia last week which killed Al-Shabaab leader Ahmed Godane.”
Uganda’s government said the country - a major contributor to AMISOM, the African Union (AU) force fighting the Shabaab - was “happy” at the death of Godane, and had provided the U.S. with key intelligence on his whereabouts.
Monday, September 8, 2014
BERLIN, Sept 8 – Three German men were arrested at the weekend when they flew home from Kenya, on suspicion of being members of Somalia’s Shabaab Islamist militant group, officials said Monday.
“Three suspects were arrested at Frankfurt airport” on Saturday, a spokeswoman for the federal prosecutors service told AFP, adding that a press conference was planned for later in the day.
Public broadcaster SWR earlier reported the men had returned to Germany because they no longer wanted to take part in combat for the Shabaab.
The report said there were no indications the three were planning attacks in Germany.
Shabaab, Al-Qaeda’s main affiliate in Africa, controls vast swathes of Somalia’s rural hinterland from which it carries out regular guerrilla attacks against government institutions and international forces based in the capital Mogadishu.
he Shabaab has recently stepped up attacks against countries that contribute to the 22,000-strong, UN-backed African Union force deployed against them in Somalia since 2007.
Neighbouring Kenya has been especially hard hit, most notably with the attack on Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall last September in which at least 67 people were killed.
Sunday, September 7, 2014
Most Wanted fugitive - Kismayo 1995 ,Al-Qaeda Affiliate Shabaab New Emir Ahmad Umar,aka Abu Ubaidah aka Ahmed Diriye
The new leader of Somalia’s al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab rebels is thought to be a devout and ruthless hardliner who was one of the most trusted lieutenants of the group’s late chief, according to experts and analysts.
The new leader of Somalia’s al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab rebels is thought to be a devout and ruthless hardliner who was one of the most trusted lieutenants of the group’s late chief, according to experts and analysts.
Al-Shabaab acknowledged in a statement on Saturday that Ahmed Abdi Godane, its previous leader, had been killed in a US air strike on Monday. The Islamist group named Ahmad Umar, also known as Abu Ubaidah, as its new head.
Very little is known about Abu Ubaidah, and a senior al-Shabaab official only described him as having been very close to Godane, a hardliner who had overseen the group’s transformation from local insurgency to major regional guerrilla threat.
"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," the al-Shabaab statement said.
"By the permission of Allah, you will surely taste the bitter consequences of your actions," it added, while also renewing a pledge of allegiance to al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s successor.
Sources close to al-Shabaab said Abu Ubaidah was thought to have been involved in a major internal purge that took place last year, when Godane eliminated several key rivals including a commander thought to be his likely successor.
Abu Ubaidah is also thought to have had a hand in the last year’s killing of Alabama-born Omar Hammami — better known as Al-Amriki or "the American" — who was one of the most prominent foreigners fighting in Somalia but who fell out with Godane.
According to an intelligence source, Abu Ubaidah is believed to have played a role in the Shabaab’s most shadowy and feared wing, the clandestine internal secret service known as "Amniyat", which Godane set up to maintain discipline and expose rivals and informers.
The source said the new leader is thought to be in his early 40s and from the southern port town of Kismayo, which is currently held by Kenyan troops fighting with the African Union’s Amsiom force. He also once served as the Shebab’s governor in the Bay and Bakool region.
However disinformation cannot be ruled out, another intelligence source said, explaining that the pressure of constant surveillance and drone strikes means the Shebab may even have named a "ghost" or "given a pseudonym" as a deliberate tactic to protect their real hierarchy.
Godane himself took over the leadership of the Shebab in 2008 after then military leader Adan Hashi Ayro was killed by a US missile attack.
EXCLUSIVE REPORT: Who is Amir Mahad Omar aka Ahmed Dirie aka Abu Ubeid: The New Leader of Somalia al-Qaeda affiliate.
Most Wanted fugitive - Kismayo 1995 ,Al-Qaeda Affiliate Shabaab New Emir Ahmad Umar,aka Abu Ubaidah aka Ahmed Diriye
EXCLUSIVE REPORT: Amir Mahad Omar Abdi-Kareem was born in Kellafo, Ogaden region of Ethiopia , his real age remains unknown but as his students from Kismayo told terror free somalia his age is about 46.
Friday, September 5, 2014
Thursday, September 4, 2014
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
(CNN) -- He is merciless toward opponents, secretive to the point of being a recluse and a true believer in the cause of global jihad.
And from his hideout somewhere in southern Somalia, Mukhtar Abu Zubayr, the emir of Al-Shabaab, has planned numerous terror attacks, including the deadliest in Kenya since the U.S. Embassy bombing in 1998.
Zubayr, who is also known as Ahmed Abdi Godane, already has a price on his head. In 2012, the U.S. State Department authorized a reward of up to $7 million for information on his whereabouts. But he has 15 years on his terror resume, and according to information provided by a well-placed source in Mogadishu who has extensive knowledge of Al-Shabaab, he "is ruthlessly eliminating real and imagined rivals" within the group.
U.S. manned and unmanned aircraft set out on Monday to end his campaign of terror, though the fate of Zubayr or a deputy, Abu Abdalla, was still unclear a day later.
Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said the attack was directed at the Al-Shabaab leader and that "we certainly believe that we hit what we were aiming at."
But he didn't say who, if anyone, died in the attack.
Zubayr's vision has been to transform Al-Shabaab from an insurgent outfit focused on Somalia into a terrorist group capable of devastating attacks beyond Somalia. He has already directed at least two: suicide bombings against bars in Kampala, Uganda, in 2010, and last year's Westgate mall siege in Nairobi, Kenya. After the Uganda attacks, which killed more than 70 people, Zubayr warned: "What happened in Kampala was just the beginning."
One key suspect in the Kampala attacks, known as Jabir, allegedly was an explosives instructor and answered directly to Zubayr. Jabir is known to have visited Uganda at least four times before the July 2010 attack.
The source in Mogadishu told CNN last year: "Zubayr is creating Al-Shabaab 2.0."
For Zubayr, the struggle has always been a global confrontation with "disbelievers" rather than just about Somalia. He also vowed that his group would launch a direct attack against the United States.
Zubayr is 37, according to most accounts, and originally from Somaliland, now a vaguely autonomous part of northern Somalia. He is slim to the point of wispy, as shown in the few photographs of him, and prefers recording audio messages to appearing in public.
As a teenager, he studied at a Pakistani madrasa, thanks to a grant from a wealthy Saudi, and he returned home with militant beliefs. He was thought to have been involved in the abduction and killings of foreign aid workers in Somaliland, including the death of Italian aid worker Annalena Tonelli in 2003.
Among his close associates in Al-Shabaab's early days was Aden Ayrow, a towering force in the group and a ruthless and mercurial pro-al Qaeda hard-liner. After Ayrow's death in May 2008 in a U.S. strike, Zubayr asserted his leadership of Al-Shabaab and immediately pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden. According to a U.S. diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks in 2009, he once refused to discuss a military offensive against government forces in Mogadishu with Al-Shabaab's allies until one of them apologized for remarks he had made critical of bin Laden.
But bin Laden was wary of an al Qaeda merger with Al-Shabaab. About a year before his death, he wrote to Zubayr that enemies would "escalate their anger and mobilize against you. This is what happened to the brothers in Iraq or Algeria."
Bin Laden's deputy at that time, Ayman al-Zawahiri, took a different view. A letter dated December 2010, which was recovered from bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and was thought by researchers to have been written by al-Zawahiri, was critical of bin Laden's decision to rebuff entreaties by the Somali militant group.
"I see it to be very essential for al Qaeda to confirm and declare its linkage with its branches. ... Please reconsider your opinion not to declare the accession of the brothers of Somalia," the author wrote.
In February 2012, Zubayr formally declared Al-Shabaab an affiliate of al Qaeda with a long message to al-Zawahiri in which he said: "We will go with you as loyal soldiers until doom and injustice disappear from Islam."
Zubayr has always rejected any negotiations with Somalia's transitional federal government. According to another U.S. diplomatic cable unearthed by WikiLeaks, Zubayr rejected an initiative in 2009 by Libya's Moammar Gadhafi to mediate in Somalia, telling him that once a true Islamic government was established in Somalia, he would move on to other countries, including Libya.
He opposes elections, saying, "The reality is that democracy is something Allah made unlawful, and someone else cannot make it lawful."
As Al-Shabaab came under greater pressure from the African Union force stationed in Mogadishu, Zubayr turned to suicide bombings against civilians. In December 2009, an Al-Shabaab bomber killed 23 people at a university graduation ceremony in Mogadishu.
Some factions inside Al-Shabaab disowned the attack, but Zubayr was unmoved. As a northerner, unlike other Al-Shabaab commanders, he did not belong to a clan in the areas controlled by the group and was therefore less concerned about civilian casualties. According to a confidential U.N. assessment, Zubayr demanded more suicide attacks to supplement conventional fighting.
At least two such suicide attacks have come this year: a May attack on a restaurant popular with foreigners in the city of Djibouti and failed attacks on a presidential compound in Mogadishu.
Zubayr's rejection of negotiations, poor management of military campaigns and the clan system soon led to dissent in Al-Shabaab. According to diplomatic cables in 2009, Zubayr wanted to declare an Islamic caliphate in areas controlled by Al-Shabaab, which included much of central and southern Somalia.
Others in Al-Shabaab's leadership disagreed, saying the group had to gain greater public support before such a move. But fearful of assassination, they kept their counsel. The imposition of brutal Taliban-like law eventually alienated large sections of the population in southern and central Somalia.
One prominent Al-Shabaab member, the American Omar Hammami, said in a video in 2012 that other elements in the group were trying to kill him. He followed up with a series of tweets attacking Zubayr.
"Abu Zubayr has gone mad. He's starting a civil war," he tweeted.
Zubayr responded by ordering the killing of Hammami, who was wounded by a gunshot in April 2013. His intelligence wing caught up with Hammami months later and killed him, just days after he told the Voice of America that Zubayr had "turned Al-Shabaab into an organization that oppresses Muslims in an effort to win control of Somalia."
Even longtime supporters and friends, such as Ibrahim al Afghani, turned against Zubayr, and paid with their lives. Al Afghani was killed in a shootout in June 2013 in the southern town of Barowe.
The Mogadishu source told CNN that prominent figures in Al-Shabaab -- including Sheikh Mukhtar Robow and Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys -- now fear for their lives. Zubayr's purge accelerated during the summer of 2013, leading Aweys to negotiate his surrender to authorities, apparently for his own protection.
After a Kenyan-led military operation pushed Al-Shabaab out of population centers in 2011, pro-al Qaeda hawks within the group gained the upper hand. The loss of the port city of Kismayo, the source of much of Al-Shabaab's income, weakened arguments that the group had too much to lose by embracing al Qaeda's global jihad.
One reason Zubayr has emerged triumphant in these internal battles is that he controls Al-Shabaab's intelligence wing, known as Amniyat, a ruthless entity organized in cells and commanded by Mahad Mohamed Ali, also known as "Karate."
Counterterrorism analysts say that as other units in the group have been weakened, Zubayr has come to rely heavily on Amniyat, which he sees as the kernel for Al-Shabaab's transformation into a regional al Qaeda affiliate.
Zubayr's reliance on force in an organization that has long worked as a loose collective has made him a legion of enemies inside Somalia, and even led to criticism on some jihadist forums sympathetic to al Qaeda.
After the Westgate attack, Kenyan and Western intelligence agencies stepped up efforts to end Zubayr's reign of terror, but it remains unclear if this week's airstrike against him succeeded.
CNN's Eliott C. McLaughlin contributed to this report.
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
US forces have carried out airstrikes against al-Shabaab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane, with casualties reported but uncertainty hanging over the fate of the main target, Somali officials said Tuesday (September 2nd).
The Pentagon confirmed the US military carried out an "operation" on Monday against al-Shabaab, and that it was "assessing the results".
"The Americans carried out a major airstrike targeting a gathering by senior al-Shabaab officials, including their leader Abu Zubayr," Lower Shabelle Governer Abdukadir Mohamed Nur said according to AFP.
Godane is also known by the name Abu Mukhtar al-Zubayr, and he is listed by the US State Department as one of the world's eight top terror fugitives, with a $7 million bounty on his head.
Godane has been the target of a number of airstrikes in the past year, including two near-death misses at the hands of the Kenyan and US militaries in January.
Al-Shabaab tight-lipped on fate of leader
In past strikes, whether by sheer luck or tip-offs, Godane reportedly left the target zones just moments before the attacks ensued. This time, he may not have been so fortuitous, although US and Somali officials, as well as al-Shabaab, are remaining tight-lipped on the outcome of the operation for now.
An al-Shabaab official who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity dismissed claims of his death as "rumours".
However, al-Shabaab spokesman Abu Mohammed told the Associated Press that Godane was travelling in one of the two vehicles hit by the airstrike on Monday, but it was unclear whether he was among the six militants reportedly killed.
"We are assessing the results of the operation and will provide additional information as and when appropriate," Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement.
The airstrike comes days after the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Somali government forces launched "Operation Indian Ocean", a major offensive aimed at seizing key ports from al-Shabaab and cutting off one of their key sources of revenue -- multi-million dollar exports of charcoal.
Al-Shabaab fighters have largely fled in advance of the allied forces, and the Lower Shabelle governor said the airstrike targeted al-Shabaab commanders as they gathered to discuss the operation.
"They were meeting to discuss about the current offensive in the region," Nur said. "There were casualties inflicted on the militants, but we do not have details so far."
Nur said the strike hit an al-Shabaab hideout used as a training camp for suicide bombers in remote villages of Lower Shabelle region, south of the capital Mogadishu.
The airstrike comes a day after al-Shabaab detonated a car bomb outside the National Intelligence Centre in Mogadishu, followed by a gun battle with Somali security forces that left at least seven militants and five others dead.
On Saturday AMISOM announced it launched a renewed offensive against al-Shabaab, saying it had captured the town of Bulomarer, 160 kilometres southwest of Mogadishu. Bulomarer was the scene of an attempted raid by French commandos in January 2013 to free an intelligence agent being held hostage.
AMISOM and Somali government troops were also seen heading towards Barawe, the last major port held by al-Shabaab on Somalia's Indian Ocean coast.
US special forces in October 2013 launched an attack on a house in Barawe targeting a top al-Shabaab commander Abdulkadir Mohamed Abdulkadir, a Kenyan of Somali origin who goes by the alias Ikrima, but were fought off with several US Navy SEALs believed to have been wounded.
Godane's rise to power
Godane, 37, who reportedly trained in Afghanistan with the Taliban, took over the leadership of al-Shabaab in 2008 after then chief Aden Hashi Farah Ayro was killed by a US missile strike.
Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri has recognised Godane as the head of the "mujahedeen" in East Africa, although letters released after Osama bin Laden's death show he had lower regard for Godane's abilities.
Godane's leadership has come under fire by his own men in recent years, creating a deep rift between various factions of al-Shabaab, which Godane has dealt with by reportedly ordering the execution of dissenters.
After killing at least two top commanders last year, Godane used al-Shabaab's clandestine internal secret service known as "Amniyat" to further tighten control on the militant group's members.
Nonetheless, under Godane's leadership, al-Shabaab gunmen have carried out a number of high profile attacks, both at home in Somalia as well as in Djibouti, Kenya and Uganda -- all nations contributing troops to AMISOM.
Inside Somalia, suicide commandos have staged brazen attacks in the heart of government, including at the presidential palace known as Villa Somalia, parliament, a United Nations base, Mogadishu's main court complex and, on Sunday (August 31st), the intelligence headquarters.
Godane also claimed responsibility for July 2010 bombings in the Ugandan capital Kampala that killed 74 people, and also reportedly oversaw the September 2013 massacre in Nairobi's Westgate mall, a four-day siege in which at least 67 people were killed.
Security experts say Godane acts as both a spiritual "emir" and tactical head of al-Shabaab forces, underscoring why he is a priority target of drone and airstrikes.
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