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.
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, 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.
A reclusive figure with a love of poetry, Ahmed Abdi Godane became a feared jihadist, running assassination and bomb squads in Somalia.
He rose to the helm of the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab group in 2008 after a US air strike killed his predecessor Aden Hashi Ayro in a remote village in southern Somalia.
Mr Godane's ascent to power surprised some observers as he came from the breakaway northern region of Somaliland.
"His rise to power within al-Shabab is unparalleled and in many ways counterintuitive in the history of Somalia's political and military formations," Rashid Abdi, an East Africa analyst who specialises on al-Shabab, told the BBC.
"How did someone with no clan constituency in southern Somalia accumulate such powers and manage to command such following in a tribal country where clan loyalties and affiliation trump everything else?",,more
Saturday, August 30, 2014
MINNEAPOLIS -- The two high school buddies loved to shoot hoops and crack jokes with their friends. They both converted to Islam in early adulthood. And both were recruited by terror groups to leave the United States and die for jihadist causes.
It wasn't immediately clear how Douglas McAuthur McCain and Troy Kastigar were drawn into radicalism after their initial conversion to the Muslim faith or whether they might have influenced one another along the way. But the two best friends went down similar paths and met the same end.
Both men attended Robbinsdale Cooper High School in the Minneapolis suburb of New Hope. Kastigar was in the class of 1999, though he left school in February of that year without a diploma, according to school records. McCain went to Robbinsdale from 1997 to 1999, before transferring to nearby Armstrong High School. He did not graduate either.
Address records show McCain lived at Kastigar's house for a period from 2000 to 2001, although that could not be independently verified.
"They were really funny guys. They were goofy. They were just always laughing, hanging out together, joking around. They were just nice," said Alicia Adams, a former classmate who was friends with both McCain and Kastigar in high school.
There was nothing in their background or behavior to "make you think they would become an extremist or a killer or anything of the sort," she said Thursday. People who knew the pair were "trying to wrap all of our heads around it."
U.S. officials confirmed this week that the 33-year-old McCain was killed in Syria while fighting with the Islamic State group. Officials have said that Kastigar was killed in Somalia in September 2009 while fighting with the terror group al-Shabaab.
The U.S. State Department said Wednesday it was looking into reports that a second American fighting with the Islamic State group had been killed in Syria.
Anders Folk, a former federal prosecutor who handled the al-Shabaab cases in Minnesota, said it's noteworthy that two converts with no familial ties to Syria or Somalia latched on to the most extreme interpretation of Islam.
"The fact that two guys from the Midwest, from Minnesota, could both be recruited by different terrorist organizations in different foreign countries shows how effective the rhetoric is at converting certain people to the cause," Folk said. "It also shows that the message isn't about where you go or what country you go to, but the message is about joining the fight. And that message is resonating with young men in America."
Both young men had minor criminal records, including charges of disorderly conduct, traffic violations and instances in which they gave false names to police officers.
The two friends were not into organized sports, but both loved basketball -- McCain's favorite team was his hometown Chicago Bulls -- and the teens were always playing at neighborhood parks and at the Y, Adams said.
Neither Kastigar nor McCain converted to Islam while in high school, Adams said. McCain's Twitter feed included a May 14 post that said he "reverted to Islam 10 years ago" and called it the best thing to happen to him.
Adams said she had kept in touch with McCain over Facebook and through phone calls, and she last spoke with him within the past year, when he was living in San Diego. She said he was doing work in a mosque there, had traveled to Europe and had hopes of being a rapper.
McCain loved learning about Islam and sharing his faith with anyone who would listen, but he was not radical and was respectful of others' beliefs, Adams said.
Kastigar left Minneapolis in November 2008. A 2011 report by the GOP House Homeland Security committee says he was killed in Somalia in September 2009. He was 28.
In August of last year, al-Shabaab released a video that featured Kastigar and other Minnesota men. In the nearly 40-minute video, Kastigar compared his experiences in Somalia to being in an amusement park.
"If you guys only knew how much fun we have over here -- this is the real Disneyland," he said. "You need to come here and join us and take pleasure in this fun." The video also showed Kastigar's shrouded corpse.
Thursday, August 28, 2014
Somali-American Jihadi, Abdirahman Muhumed, 29, killed in #Syria this week fighting alongside
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
KISMAYO, Somalia August 27, 2014 (terrorfreesomalia)-Former a former Minister of Defense Barre Adan Shire (Barre Hiiraale) has agreed to join the ongoing jubaland peace process after lengthy mediation efforts on Wednesday, terror free somalia reports. Federal Government of Somalia’s Minister of Internal Affairs Abdulahi Godah Barre, Jubaland officials and traditional leaders paid visit to Col. Bare Hirale stronghold of Goob Weyn which lies a few kilometers away from the southern port city of Kismayo. A two-hour deliberation on the fate of the former warlord led to the Thursday’s return to Kismayo by clan militia. Meanwhile, Jubaland insisted it welcomes the move but put condition on the arrival of militiamen. Jubaland administration accepted that Hiiraale and his special bodyguards be returned to Kismayo and demanded the reintegration and rehabilitation of other armed clan militia who could pose security threat to the peace process. Somali government delegation escorted the commanders of Bare Hiirale militia Col. Abdi Egal, Mohamed Ali and Abdirashid Moallim to strategic Kismayo seaport. He refused to lay down arms and renounce armed violence as Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed arrived in Kismayo in an effort to consolidate jubaland peace process in April this year. Militia loyal to . Bare Hiiraale engaged in a deadly battle with local forces loyal to the President of Jubaland administration jihadi warlord Shiekh Ahmed Mohamed Islam (Madobe) in Kismayo and subsequently fled to unknown vicinities in the outskirts of Kismayo following the seizure of Kismayo by Jubaland forces in June 2013. Kismayo suffered from two decades of bloody stalemate, with rival warlords and armed clan militias competing for the lucrative seaport and the fertile hinterland near Jubba River. -
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Sunday, August 24, 2014
Friday, August 22, 2014
African Union peacekeepers will withdraw from Somalia in two years according to a road map contained in the latest daily updates by Amisom Daily Media Monitoring. The African Mission in Somalia ( Amisom) would end the intervention in Somalia in 2016, according to the latest assessment by stakeholders.
African Union Acting Special Envoy to Somalia Lydia Wanyoto and Somalia ambassador to Uganda Sheik Sayid Ahmed Dahir say the road map will be adhered to. They expect that by that time the federal government will have the capacity to independently run the affairs of the war-torn state. Ahmed said Somalia is on the right path and thanked regional governments, especially Uganda for ensuring the conflict is subdued. The Kenya Defence Forces contribute a substantial number of troops to Amisom. Other nations are Uganda, Burundi, Sierra Leone and Ethiopia. Meanwhile, Amisom and the Federal Government of Somalia have concluded a three-day conference to educate the Somalia civil society on the role they can play in the implementation of the country's Vision 2016. Somalia has no functional civil society since the collapse of the central government. In the recent past, due to improved security attributed to the Somali National Army (SNA) supported by Amisom, there are functioning institutions. See also: Suspected Al-Shabaab militia kidnap Kenyan driver ''The objective of the conference was to identify the role of civil society in supporting inclusive political dialogue and initiation of processes of social reconciliation, to restore trust between communities through review,'' Amisom reported. Amisom said this would help identify the role of civil society towards the finalisation and adaptation of a federal constitution by December 2015 and to identify how civil society can participate in the processes leading to elections by 2016. The conference gave the civil society an opportunity to create awareness among themselves on recent political developments in Somalia. It was presided over Labor and Social Affairs Minister Luqman Mohamed and was attended by 58 participants including, six members of Parliament. "I can assure you that the Federal Government of Somalia is willing to work with all civil society groups to move the country forward. The efforts of the Government should be complemented by the civil society," he said.
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Monday, August 18, 2014
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Somalia’s Information Ministry website published a photos of Hassan Hanafi showing bullet scares of his face. The Ministry says Hassan Hanafi went to Kenya to receive treatment following bullet injuries he sustained after military offensive by Somalia government forces and AMISOM on Buloburte town in central region of Hiran
BBC News reports that police believe the suspect is former journalist Hassan Hanafi, who is accused of killing journalists in Somalia. However, the man has denied under interrogation that he is Hanafi, according to the report. Al-Shabaab has carried out a spate of attacks in Somalia and Kenya, states the report which notes that last September, 67 people were killed when the group's fighters laid siege to the upmarket Westgate shopping centre in Kenya's capital, Nairobi. According to the report, Somalian security sources said Hanafi was arrested in Nairobi following co-operation between the intelligence services in both countries. Hanafi was reportedly receiving medical treatment when police swooped on him, marking a rare cross-border arrest of a terror suspect.
Full BBC News report
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The threat is from violent extremists who are a small minority of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims, the threat is real. They distort Islam. They kill man, woman and child; Christian and Hindu, Jew and Muslim. They seek to create a repressive caliphate. To defeat this enemy, we must understand who we are fighting against, and what we are fighting for.