Somalia: Extremist ViolenceReturns to Hit MogadishuSaturday, August 03, 2013As the Somali governmentannounced it would set up acoastguard to combat piracy inthis Horn of African nation,insecurity is emerging as thebiggest challenge that thegovernment faces – and it is onlygetting worse.Osman Aweis Dahir, director ofthe local Dr. Ismail Jimale HumanRights Organisation, said that theSomali militant group Al-Shabaabhas renewed its campaign tobring instability to the country’scapital Mogadishu.”The little stability that the cityhad experienced since the Al-Shabaab withdrawal appears tohave been broken,” Dahir toldIPS from Mogadishu. The Islamistextremist group was forced out ofits bases in Mogadishu on Aug. 6,2011 by Somali and African Unionpeace-keeping forces. Until thewithdrawal, the government onlycontrolled half of the city.But in recent weeks there hasbeen a rise in the number ofambushes, assassinations andsuicide bombs in Somalia’scapital.”The city is like an open shop in amarket which its owner has left[unattended].” — Jama AhmedSiad, local security expert”The city has experienced itsdeadliest attacks in recent timesduring the past two weeks,” saidDahir. More than 60 people,mostly civilians, have been killedin several incidents acrossMogadishu. This is a setback tothe rising hopes of a return torelative security.”On Tuesday, Jul. 30, an officerfrom Somalia’s NationalIntelligence and Security Agency(NISA) was assassinated by Al-Shabaab. His name was added tothe growing list of governmentofficials killed over the last threeweeks. Included on that list isfemale deputy commissioner ofMogadishu’s Yaqshid district,Rahma Dahir Siad, who was killedoutside her home on Jul. 17.Even foreign diplomats are notsafe in the city. On Jul. 27, Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility foran attack on the Turkish embassythat killed three people.It was the second that day. A fewhours earlier a bomb plantedinside a member of parliament’svehicle exploded in the north ofthe city.On Jul. 24, Sheikh Abdu Aziz AbuMusab, Al-Shabaab’s militaryspokesman, said that his groupcarried out over 100 attacksbetween Jul. 10 and 24. Half ofthese, he said, occurred inMogadishu.”If anything, the sharp rise insuch coordinated attacks is a cleartestament to the strength of theMujahidin and their operationalcapacity,” he told a pro-Islamistradio station in Somalia.Somali Prime Minister Abdi FarahShirdoon acknowledged hisdisappointment at thegovernment’s weak handling ofthe security situation in thecountry. “We are very concerned[about] the security matter and itwas not handled the way wewanted,” Shirdoon told reportersin Mogadishu on Jul. 18. Hepromised to improve the city’ssecurity.But Jama Ahmed Siad, a securityexpert based in Mogadishu, saidthe government was negligent andlacked a clear strategy to counterthe Islamist extremist group’sswitch to guerrilla-style warfare.”Security is the key to allproblems in Somalia and whenyou solve it, you have solved halfthe problem,” Siad told IPS,adding that the government is yetto understand that.”For instance, the NISA agentshave reduced their presence onthe roads entering Mogadishu forthe past three months. They usedto inspect the vehicles and peopleentering the city at thesecheckpoints, where theypreviously captured members ofAl-Shabaab trying to infiltrate thecity,” Siad added.A senior officer at NISA told IPSthat the agency had handed thecontrol of these checkpoints tothe Somali police and military”but there is a plan to deployNISA’s agents back there verysoon.”Mohamed Elmi, a civil societyactivist in Mogadishu, said thegovernment’s main challenge washow to combat the suicide carbombings. He told IPS thatgovernment forces did not havethe advanced weaponry,technology and training for this.President Hassan SheikhMohamud told journalists onMonday, Jul. 29: “The securityforces are at war… but it is noteasy to find a suicide car movingaround in a city of two million.”The presidential spokesman,Abdirahman Omar Osman, andthe prime minister’sspokesperson, Ridwan HajiAbdiweli, refused to comment toIPS on the security situation inthe city.But one government official toldIPS that the government had, onthe day of the Turkish embassybombing, deployed a 1,000-strong counter-terrorism force onthe streets in Mogadishu. “Theelite force with unique uniformsarmed with advanced weaponsand their vehicles painted in adistinctive colour are assigned tocleaning up the city of Al-Shabaabmembers,” said the officer whoasked to remain anonymousbecause he was not authorised tospeak to the media.Siad said such a force was unlikelyto counter the Islamists’increasing terror attacks. “Thereis no single Islamist base in thecity, but several secret bases thatthey use. Therefore, suchdeployment is unhelpful,” hesaid.He said the government neededto concentrate efforts ongathering intelligence relating tothese secret Al-Shabaab bases andthe organisation’s leaders in thecity.Dahir said the government’s weakhandling of the country’s internalsecurity casts doubt on its abilityto deliver its Six Pillar Policy – apolicy framework that aims tosecure progress in the areas ofsecurity, stability, justice,economic recovery, peace-building, and service delivery.In a policy brief released in April,the Heritage Institute for PolicyStudies (HIPS), the country’s firstthink tank, praised thegovernment’s foreign policy anddiplomatic successes.Somalia has been gaining morevisibility in the internationalarena, with Mohamud payinghigh-level visits to Washington,London, Ankara, Brussels, Cairoand several other countries tobuild his government’s image.”However, there are disturbingsigns of an imbalance betweenforeign policy priorities anddomestic achievements,” the HIPSreport said.And until the issue of domesticsecurity is resolved, Mogadishu’soccupants will remain vulnerable.”The city is like an open shop thatits owner has left,” Siad

Somalia: Extremist Violence
Returns to Hit Mogadishu
Saturday, August 03, 2013
As the Somali government
announced it would set up a
coastguard to combat piracy in
this Horn of African nation,
insecurity is emerging as the
biggest challenge that the
government faces – and it is only
getting worse.
Osman Aweis Dahir, director of
the local Dr. Ismail Jimale Human
Rights Organisation, said that the
Somali militant group Al-Shabaab
has renewed its campaign to
bring instability to the country’s
capital Mogadishu.
“The little stability that the city
had experienced since the Al-
Shabaab withdrawal appears to
have been broken,” Dahir told
IPS from Mogadishu. The Islamist
extremist group was forced out of
its bases in Mogadishu on Aug. 6,
2011 by Somali and African Union
peace-keeping forces. Until the
withdrawal, the government only
controlled half of the city.
But in recent weeks there has
been a rise in the number of
ambushes, assassinations and
suicide bombs in Somalia’s
“The city is like an open shop in a
market which its owner has left
[unattended].” — Jama Ahmed
Siad, local security expert
“The city has experienced its
deadliest attacks in recent times
during the past two weeks,” said
Dahir. More than 60 people,
mostly civilians, have been killed
in several incidents across
Mogadishu. This is a setback to
the rising hopes of a return to
relative security.”
On Tuesday, Jul. 30, an officer
from Somalia’s National
Intelligence and Security Agency
(NISA) was assassinated by Al-
Shabaab. His name was added to
the growing list of government
officials killed over the last three
weeks. Included on that list is
female deputy commissioner of
Mogadishu’s Yaqshid district,
Rahma Dahir Siad, who was killed
outside her home on Jul. 17.
Even foreign diplomats are not
safe in the city. On Jul. 27, Al-
Shabaab claimed responsibility for
an attack on the Turkish embassy
that killed three people.
It was the second that day. A few
hours earlier a bomb planted
inside a member of parliament’s
vehicle exploded in the north of
the city.
On Jul. 24, Sheikh Abdu Aziz Abu
Musab, Al-Shabaab’s military
spokesman, said that his group
carried out over 100 attacks
between Jul. 10 and 24. Half of
these, he said, occurred in
“If anything, the sharp rise in
such coordinated attacks is a clear
testament to the strength of the
Mujahidin and their operational
capacity,” he told a pro-Islamist
radio station in Somalia.
Somali Prime Minister Abdi Farah
Shirdoon acknowledged his
disappointment at the
government’s weak handling of
the security situation in the
country. “We are very concerned
[about] the security matter and it
was not handled the way we
wanted,” Shirdoon told reporters
in Mogadishu on Jul. 18. He
promised to improve the city’s
But Jama Ahmed Siad, a security
expert based in Mogadishu, said
the government was negligent and
lacked a clear strategy to counter
the Islamist extremist group’s
switch to guerrilla-style warfare.
“Security is the key to all
problems in Somalia and when
you solve it, you have solved half
the problem,” Siad told IPS,
adding that the government is yet
to understand that.
“For instance, the NISA agents
have reduced their presence on
the roads entering Mogadishu for
the past three months. They used
to inspect the vehicles and people
entering the city at these
checkpoints, where they
previously captured members of
Al-Shabaab trying to infiltrate the
city,” Siad added.
A senior officer at NISA told IPS
that the agency had handed the
control of these checkpoints to
the Somali police and military
“but there is a plan to deploy
NISA’s agents back there very
Mohamed Elmi, a civil society
activist in Mogadishu, said the
government’s main challenge was
how to combat the suicide car
bombings. He told IPS that
government forces did not have
the advanced weaponry,
technology and training for this.
President Hassan Sheikh
Mohamud told journalists on
Monday, Jul. 29: “The security
forces are at war… but it is not
easy to find a suicide car moving
around in a city of two million.”
The presidential spokesman,
Abdirahman Omar Osman, and
the prime minister’s
spokesperson, Ridwan Haji
Abdiweli, refused to comment to
IPS on the security situation in
the city.
But one government official told
IPS that the government had, on
the day of the Turkish embassy
bombing, deployed a 1,000-
strong counter-terrorism force on
the streets in Mogadishu. “The
elite force with unique uniforms
armed with advanced weapons
and their vehicles painted in a
distinctive colour are assigned to
cleaning up the city of Al-Shabaab
members,” said the officer who
asked to remain anonymous
because he was not authorised to
speak to the media.
Siad said such a force was unlikely
to counter the Islamists’
increasing terror attacks. “There
is no single Islamist base in the
city, but several secret bases that
they use. Therefore, such
deployment is unhelpful,” he
He said the government needed
to concentrate efforts on
gathering intelligence relating to
these secret Al-Shabaab bases and
the organisation’s leaders in the
Dahir said the government’s weak
handling of the country’s internal
security casts doubt on its ability
to deliver its Six Pillar Policy – a
policy framework that aims to
secure progress in the areas of
security, stability, justice,
economic recovery, peace-
building, and service delivery.
In a policy brief released in April,
the Heritage Institute for Policy
Studies (HIPS), the country’s first
think tank, praised the
government’s foreign policy and
diplomatic successes.
Somalia has been gaining more
visibility in the international
arena, with Mohamud paying
high-level visits to Washington,
London, Ankara, Brussels, Cairo
and several other countries to
build his government’s image.
“However, there are disturbing
signs of an imbalance between
foreign policy priorities and
domestic achievements,” the HIPS
report said.
And until the issue of domestic
security is resolved, Mogadishu’s
occupants will remain vulnerable.
“The city is like an open shop that
its owner has left,” Siad


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