Why Somalia is Al Shabaab playground
10 months ago, 30 Dec 16:04
On the second day of my visit to Mogadishu, within a couple of days of the October 14, 2017 truck bombing, I visited the site of the explosion in the company of Prof Abdullahi Shirwa, the chairman of the National Emergency Operation Centre. At some point, the man explaining things to me, glanced nervously around, and bent down and picked up “something.” He said to me, “Here,” offering me whatever it was that he had picked up from under a piece of wood. I didn’t like his bothered look and so I asked, “What is it?” “These are pieces of human flesh.” Shocked, I averted my eyes, not ready to accept the man’s extended hand and was relieved when Prof Shirwa assured me that they were fragments of charred metal strewn by the massive explosion. Of the numerous assaults and bomb attacks that will haunt every Somali’s mind, none has been more dastardly than this one. A heinous act of incomparable devastation, nearly 400 souls lost and an equal number of people suffered serious injuries, many needing major surgery, with many others either unaccounted for or missing. The local terrorist group Al Shabaab had just served notice on everyone that it was still capable of striking panic into the nation’s heart, despite its territorial loss. As we mourned the dead, we sought answers to the question we have been asking for the past decade. Now we ask again if this would be the watershed event that would drive the African Mission in Somalia (Amisom) and the Somali National Army towards a decisive final push to rid the country of Al Shabaab once for all. 'Lies have short legs' The terrorist organisation — masters in the dark arts of stonewalling — did not claim ownership of the attack, fearing a popular backlash. It is worth remembering that the terrorists did not own up to the December 4, 2009, Hotel Shamo blast in which a male suicide bomber disguised as a woman by wearing a hijab, detonated a device killing three government ministers, two professors of medicine and nine students at a medical school graduation ceremony. But even without taking credit for the killings, everyone suspected them of being the perpetrators. A Somali proverb says; Lies have short legs. And sooner or later, the truth will catch up with them. And so it was something of a relief when the truth caught up with Al Shabaab’s taciturnity: The Somali Minister for Internal Security released the names of the six men behind the October 14 truck bombing a month after the deadly incident and two weeks following the Hotel Naasa Hablood assault, in which 17 people died and 23 were wounded, which Al Shabaab claimed to have carried out. Mohamed Abukar Islow, the minister for Internal Security, identified Osman Hajji aka Maadey as the suicide bomber and driver of the truck. He also named five other individuals, who are now in custody, accused of having had a hand in the bombing: Hassan Adan ...
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