Somalia: NISA or Al-Shabaab? How Mogadishu attack could expose Farmajo's administration

By Abuga Makori in Nairobi , Garowe Online
Somalia's president Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo faces challenges as his term ends in 2020 - File Photo

MOGADISHU, Somalia - Saturday's deadly attack in Mogadishu could expose cracks President Mohamed Farmajo's administration, just a year to much anticipated polls, Garowe Online reports.

With already over 85 people dead and scores injured, the FGS is struggling to unravel the mystery, following contradicting reports on possible masterminds.

Analysts say the government's inconsistencies in giving accurate number of casualties and spy agencies claims would "injure reputation" of the government.

Al-Shabaab statement on the attack

Even though Farmajo had linked Al-Shabaab to the attack, unlike in the past, the Al-Qaida associates took over 72 hours to claim responsibility.

Ali Mohamud Rageh alias Ali Dhere, the official spokesman of the group, on Monday issued a statement via Radio Andalus claiming responsibility.

The Al-Shabaab, Dhere said, targeted Turkish convoy and security forces from FGS at the Mogadishu's busy Ex-Control police checkpoint.

"On Saturday, the Mujahedeen executed an attack at Ex-Control, targeting an enemy Turkish convoy and the militias who were guarding them," he said.

"It hit the convoy and inflicted heavy losses on the Turks and the apostate militias who were protecting them."

During the attack, two Turkish nationals were confirmed dead and their bodies have since been airlifted to Ankara for burial rites.

NISA's explosive claims over the attack

But in a sharp contrast, spy agency NISA linked a foreign country to the deadly attack, even though it did not immediately reveal the identity.

It was the first time a government agency was linking foreign countries to terror attack, something that could change the entire perception on war against terrorism.

"We have submitted to the national leaders a preliminary report indicating that the massacre against the Somali people in Mogadishu on 28 December 2019 was planned by a foreign country," NISA said.

Spy agency added: "To complete the ongoing investigation we will seek cooperation from some of the international intelligence agencies."

Surprisingly, the claims by NISA also contradicted Farmajo's initial assertion that Al-Shabaab was linked to the attack, further exposing cracks in government.

Fahad Yasin, a former journalist, is the agency's boss. He's a close ally of Farmajo and has often been dragged to endless politics between the opposition and FGS.

Opposition condemnation on NISA

The opposition parties have already seized the opportunity to poke holes into Farmajo's administration, describing NISA's allegations as "unfortunate"

Abdrahman Abdishakur, the Wadajir party leader, on Monday accused the government of harboring terrorists by defending their destructive attacks.

"For the NISA to claim that a foreign country was behind the ex-control Afgoye attack, in which Al-Shabab terrorist massacred 100 ppl, doesn’t only mislead the public and cover up the agency’s failure, but it also diverts blame from the terrorist. This is a clear cooperation with AS," he tweeted.

Previously, Abdishakur has blamed the government of sympathising with terrorists. He had also questioned the government's committment to deliver credible polls in 2020.

During the attack, Forum for National Parties (FNP) leader Sharif Sheikh Ahmed also accused the government of "failing to protect" innocent people.

Farmajo's biggest headache

With the outright contradictions and Al-Shabaab's latest statement, Farmajo could in a serious limbo especially how to justify the inconsistencies.

NISA's claims, if not justified, could lead to suspicions from the international community on the commitment of FGS towards fighting terrorism.

Over 22,000 peace keeping troops drawn from different countries have for years helped FGS to take control in the rather fragile nation.

Frequent Al-Shabaab attacks, pressure from the opposition and internal wrangles within the FGS have evidently thrown Farmajo off-balance.

Controversial 2020/21 elections 

Even with assurances the Somalia will hold polls at the end of next year, the opposition has already flagged an alleged plot to extend the current term of executive and parliament.

In the electoral bill passed by Lower House, the opposition claim, article 53 could be used by FGS to continue staying in power.

In the event of emergencies like attacks, the clause states, the elections can be postponed. This explains concerns by Abdishakur and his assertions that FGS could be working with Al-Shabaab.

How Farmajo will deal with the predicament would only be known in coming days. His talks with the opposition have already stalled.