Somalia: Al-Shabaab leader expels top commanders over Mogadishu's civilian attacks


MOGADISHU, Somalia - Two top Al-Shabaab commanders have been fired following irreconcilable differences with their leader, Somalia's spy agency has said, amid a crackdown against the militants.

Ahmed Omar Diriye, who has been at the helm of the Al-Qaida associated group, is said to have differed with the two commanders over Al-Shabaab operations, officials said.

Somalia's spy agency NISA revealed the ongoing intrigues within the militant group, which has lately intensified attacks against locals, on Monday.

Mahad Karate and Bashir Qorgab will no longer sit in the Al-Shabaab' executive council which is popularly known as [Tanfid], NISA said.

Why they were expelled

The two had advised their leader to halt attacks against civilians in Mogadishu before the unprecedented fallout, the agency added.

For the effective running of the terror group, Tanfid is involved in making decisions among them where and when to attack, the UN report revealed.

"Ahmed Dirie, the leader of AlShabaab has expelled Mahad Karate and Bashir Qorgab from the executive council," NISA said in a tweet.

The agency, which is responsible for security, added: "This after advising him to halt the frequent attacks targeting civilians in Mogadishu."

The expulsion is the most recent in Al-Shabaab's history in four years, and could further weaken the group, analysts say.

Civilians worst hit by the attacks

A report released by Armed Conflict, Location and Event Data Project indicates that over 4,000 civilians have been killed by Alshabab in the last decade.

Of those affected, the report added, are "Muslims from Somalia" even though the group has often insisted that "we are protecting civilians".

Last month, at least 90 people were killed by a truck bomb blast in Mogadishu, with hundreds left with life-threatening injuries, officials said.

Since then, the group had also executed numerous sporadic attacks within the Somalia capital, killing dozens in the process, police said.

In a statement, the group, however, said "we were targeting a Turkish convoy. We are sorry to civilians affected in this deadly attack".

High profile defections

With security forces intensifying crackdown against the militants across the country, a number of them have since defected.

Zubair al-Muhajir, a top Al-Shabaab foreign fighter, defected last year after irreconcilable differences with the top leadership.

Born in Ivory Coast before moving to Britain, Zubair was one of militant trusted with the collection of intelligence within Amniyat.

"I defected because al-Shabab, they are lying to the Muslims and to the world,” he told VOA early this year.

“They are claiming to implement the Sharia (Islamic law) which is not true because I know from incidents where they went against the Sharia.”

The former militant said the group uses Sharia just to “betray the people, fool them, and lie to them.”

In another interview aired by VOA, two other fighters who had left Minnesota, United States, narrated their ordeal after ditching the group.

Previous wrangles in Al-Shabaab

Differences within Al-Shabaab are synonymous and dates back when Ahmed Godane was in charge of the group.

In 2011, al-Muhajir was head of a committee appointed by al-Shabab to mediate a bitter dispute between the late leader Ahmed Abdi Godane and three other commanders – Ibrahim al-Afghani, Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansour and Fuad Mohamed Khalaf Shongole.

Godane rejected his mediation efforts and the dispute led to the execution of al-Afghani in June 2013.

Robow eventually defected while Shongole is still with al-Shabab. Robow is currently in jail following his fallout with President Mohamed Farmajo in 2018.

At the time, al-Shabab detained a number of other commanders and figures suspected of opposing Godane. Zubair al-Muhajir says he was one of the detained.

Godane was killed in 2015 following a US airstrike at his hideout. Mr. Diriye has been in charge since then and was first seen in a video posted by the group last year.

Al-Shabaab has been significantly neutralized by the security forces, who have since driven them out of Mogadishu to remove villages, UN said.


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