US-trained Danab troops kill senior Al-Shabaab taxation commander in Somalia
MOGADISHU, Somalia - A senior Al-Shabaab commander in charge of taxation in Lower Shebelle was killed by Special Forces from Danab Infantry Corps on Wednesday, state-owned SONNA reported, in an operation which was also aided by foreign forces in Somalia.
Gen. Ismael Abdimalik, the commander of the Danab force said the official, who was positively identified as Hashim, was killed at Leego town within the notorious Al-Shabaab hotbed in southern Somalia.
The slain commander, he noted, had been coordinating mafia-style taxation, in which local business community parts with Zakat, which aids illegal operations of the militants across Somalia. He had been running a custom office within the town at the time of the killing, he said.
"We successfully raided an Al-Shabaab taxation office and killed one of the most wanted terrorists in Somalia," he said. "We are glad that our gallant troops were able to down him, and this is great news to our nation as we work hard to defeat these militants."
It's not clear which foreign team helped the Somali National Army [SNA] troops to execute the sophisticated operation in an area controlled by the Al-Shabaab. However, Africa Union forces usually help the Somali troops during ground combats.
During the raid, Gen. Abdimalik added, the customs office that was under the control of Al-Shabaab in Leego was destroyed, leaving two other militants dead alongside Hashim, who had been under the surveillance of security forces.
"We destroyed the custom offices and this is a serious liberation. Besides the senior terrorist, two others died and we are happy that our team did not register any casualty," he said, adding that "we are grateful to the foreign forces who helped us to accomplish the mission.
Leego town is located around 100 kilometers northwest of the Somalia capital, Mogadishu, and is a major hideout for the militants, who have caused havoc in the war-torn nation in the last decade, despite concerted effort to crush them.
The troops will establish a base in the region to keep the population safe from the militants, who had made lives impossible, due to hefty taxation which directly goes to the Al-Shabaab finance kitty, added the Danab general.
Residents were asked to cooperate with the military to enable them "normalize" the situation by reporting those who have been working with the Al-Qaida linked group. The operation was a culmination of a well-coordinated assault against the militants in central and southern Somalia.
For the last one month, the Danab forces have been executing operations against the militants, which have seen dozens of them die within Lower Shebelle and parts of Middle Shebelle, which are used for recruitment and training.
For instance, a senior militant was also killed at the Arabow area early this week, in an operation conducted by the military. There was also a similar crackdown east of Galkayo town, hours after Mudug Governor Muse Nur was killed by the militants on Sunday.
In March, the SNA troops with the aid of the US soldiers and those from AU mission managed to liberate the strategic town of Janaale within Lower Shebelle, in an operation that left 140 militants dead, 28 injured and 18 captured, officials said.
Some intelligence reports indicated last month that the Shabaab group was undergoing financial crisis due to dwindling revenues, which reportedly forced some of them to cross over to northeastern Kenya for survival from the collection of local taxes.
Internal wrangles between the group leader Ahmed Omar Diriye and the Financial controller Mahad Karate have also significantly contributed to mass defections, which have further weakened the militants, the report added.
Within Somalia, the US army has also continued to inflict huge casualties on the militants through persistent airstrikes. The latest came over the weekend when two militants were killed in the outskirts of Qunyo Barrow, US Africa Command said.
Some of those who have since died include former intelligence commander Muse Moalim, who was executed by the militants, Yusuf Jiis, a taxation commander also within Lower Shebelle and Bashir Qorgab, the militant linked to Manda Airfield raid in Kenya on Jan. 5.
The group has considerably lost its territory but continues to execute large scale sporadic attacks across East Africa. The Somali National Army [SNA] is set to take over from foreign forces in 2021, thus the US' dedication in training Danab forces.