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Somalia's spy agency links foreign country to Mogadishu's deadly attack

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

MOGADISHU, Somalia - In what could spark fresh controversy, Somalia's spy agency has linked a foreign nation to Saturday's deadly attack in the capital Mogadishu, Garowe Online reports.

The National Intelligence Agency of Somalia (NISA) on Monday tabled the preliminary report, which dissects events preceding the attack.

A foreign country, the agency claimed, planned and executed the deadly "massacre" that left 85 people dead and hundreds of others injured.

"We submitted to the national authorities an initial report indicating that the massacre of the Somali people in Mogadishu, 28 Dec. 2019 was planned by a foreign country," NISA said in a tweet.

A car bomb exploded at the "Ex-Control" police checkpoint near the Afgoye junction which is also situated near a tax collection center.

Of the dead were 17 police officers and dozens of students who were traveling to various destinations, police said in a statement.

The spy agency under Fahid Dahir, a close ally of President Mohamed Farmajo, did not give further details with regard to the explosive claims.

NISA added: "In the ongoing investigation, we will work with some of the world's intelligence agencies to unravel the mystery."

This is the first time Somalia is dragging a foreign country to terror-related incidents, something that could draw the attention of international partners.

NISA head Fahad Yasin, former Al Jazeera Arabic correspondent is accused of having close relations with Qatar which has been at a diplomatic standoff with the Saudi-led Gulf coalition since June 2017.

Al-Shabaab attacks across Somalia

Previously, such attacks have been linked to Al-Shabaab militants, who have caused havoc in a bid to create a parallel functional government.

But until now, no militant group has claimed responsibility, a move that could yet again lead to serious investigations over NISA's claims.

In recent attacks for instance at SYL Hotel this month, Al-Shabaab militants were quick to take responsibility following the death of seven people.

Even though NISA has linked a foreign nation to the deadly attack, Farmajo on Saturday dragged the Al-Shabaab militants to the incident, warning of serious repercussions.

Al-Shabaab's unscrupulous activities

Besides carrying out attacks across East Africa, the Al-Shabaab militants are also accused of abductions and unscrupulous extortion.

To finance itself, UN experts said, the militants have set up an extensive racketeering system that levies fees on sales of agricultural produce in southern and central Somalia

Further, they also tax imports into the Mogadishu port. The UN banned charcoal trading which they had used for decades to generate income.

The growing threat of Al-Shabaab

The Shabab have also been able to infiltrate federal institutions. They claimed to have recruited a government employee to kill Mogadishu’s mayor, Abdirahman Omar Osman, in July.

And the group’s growing assertiveness was in evidence when it declared war last year on pro-Islamic State groups in Somalia in a fight over territory, reports New York Times.

“Al Shabab is still strong and stable,” said Stig Jarle Hansen, the author of “Horn, Sahel, and Rift: Fault-lines of the African Jihad.”

The ongoing threat it poses, he said, goes to show that the “government still has a lot of work to do when it comes to providing safety and security for its ordinary citizens.”

“The government has failed to become credible and legitimate in the eyes of the public,” said Rashid Abdi, a Horn of Africa analyst.

The country’s security services “are in complete disarray,” he added, undermining efforts to successfully hold off attacks.

The Shabab, on the other hand, mediates to resolve day-to-day problems — especially land disputes — even in areas it doesn’t control, Mr. Abdi said.

Why NISA's claim is unique

While the allied forces and FGS have always linked the attacks to insurgency groups within Somalia, the claim could cause serious instability if ascertained.

Somalia is preparing for 2020/21 polls with the help of the international community and the aftermath would be injured trust if it comes out that foreigners are keen to ruin the nation.

The Horn of Africa nation has partnered with many countries including those in East Africa to push for stability and democratization.

Many of these countries have deployed soldiers in Somalia, and should the claim be established, FGS could reconsider her trust and confidence with some of the foreign troops.

Opposition rejects NISA's allegations

But shortly after NISA posted the brief, one of the opposition leaders Abdirahman Abdishakur dismissed the claims terming it "misleading and deceptive"

Abdishakur accused NISA of using the latest attack to "cover-up it's failures" by sympathizing with terrorists.

"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 & cover up the agency’s failure, but it also diverts blame from the terrorist. This is clear cooperation with AS," he told Garowe Online.

In recent weeks, Abdishakur has accused the Federal Government of Somalia of being sympathetic to the Al-Shabaab militants, citing an incident where a jailed terrorist was allowed to use a phone from the cell.