Somalia: Ex-spy chief appointed police boss in Puntland state


GAROWE, Puntland - In a move aimed at reorganizing and reforming the police in Puntland, President Said Abdullahi Deni has appointed Monday a former spy chief as the head of the police, with his immediate task being coming with a strategy to defeat extremists.

Through a presidential decree obtained by Garowe Online, president Deni appointed Abdi Hassan Hussein alias Abdiyare to the post, replacing the General Muhyadin Ahmed Muse.

Monday's changes come barely a month after the rather secure state experienced two separate Al-Shabaab attacks, which claimed the lives of two officials - Nugal regional governor in Garowe and immigration officer Galkayo town.

Abdisalam Hassan Hersi, the Nugal governor, was assassinated by the Al-Shabaab car bomber near a police station in Garowe, a move that raised safety concerns by residents, who had not experienced a terrorist attack in the past five years.

Osman Hussein Haji, an immigration officer at Galkayo airport, met his death when going for prayers in a local mosque. Al-Shabaab militants took responsibility for both violent attacks in the state.

And Abdiyare will now be tasked to reform the security sector in Puntland, in tandem with the election pledges made by President Said Deni when he took over in 2017. The president had promised, "safety for all without bias".

Prior to Monday's appointment, Abdiyare had served as Puntland chief of Intelligence Agency during the reign of ex-president Abdirahman Faroole, now serving as a federal senator. He also served as coordinator of FGS and FMS intelligence services in the office of Somali PM.

While Deni did not issue further details, the two recent attacks could have informed his latest unprecedented changes. Abdiyare's intelligence background could have also tilted the odds in his favor.

Fundamentally, his appointment comes at the time Puntland security forces are involved in a battle with Al-Shabaab and ISIS militants in the northern region of Bari and Golis, another the rate of the attacks has minimized.

When he took over, Deni promised to "crush the militants" within months to ensure "safety" is guaranteed for all. By the end of his tenure, he added, "all terrorists would be eradicated completely from Puntland".

In March, ISIS militants, whose operations had dwindled in the region due to persistent clashes with rival Al-Shabaab, produced photos in which they were training. Experts linked the topography to Bari, a region they had previously claimed.

And days later, intelligence sources indicated that the group had also recruited about 20 foreign fighters from Ethiopia and Yemen to supplement their local recruits. However, the team is yet to wage any substantive attack.

The new police chief will also coordinate the imposition of curfew within the state, which was declared by President Deni recently as a measure to curb the spread of Covid-19. The state has recorded 10 positive cases, health officials said.

Somalia is grappling with terrorism attacks even in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has left 32 people dead countrywide. Its police have also been involved in alleged violation of human rights, something which the new chief will also be tasked to eradicate.


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