Somalia: Puntland crushes 'terrorist networks' behind assassinations
GALKAYO, Puntland - Maintaining their efficient and determined war on terror, Puntland security forces inflicted a heavy blow on Al-Shabaab in the latest operations launched following a string of terrorist attacks.
In the past few months, Puntland troops stepped-up offensive against the Al-Qaeda affiliate in which they have successfully crushed 7 terrorist networks operating in the province in more than a decade.
The army nabbed dozens of militants and their ringleaders who were responsible for at least 30 targeted assassinations against security force members, journalists, governors, and other senior Puntland officials.
Mudug Regional Police Commander Mumin Abdi Shire confirmed to Garowe Online that the detained militants include Feisal Ahmed Bashir alias Gujis, 31. He was born and worked in Galkayo as a technician.
Shire added that Bashir has joined Al-Shabaab in 2008, He has been trained in Elasha Biyaha areas on the outskirts of Mogadishu and participated in several battles in the south before returning to his hometown.
The police officer said Bashir was a well-known figure among the community and regularly visiting public places to escape the radar of the security services. But at the last, he was captured after a tip-off.
“He was a smart operative working with Al-Shabaab for money, not for an ideology. We couldn’t have arrested him without getting his information from his accomplice in the jail,” said Shire.
Bashir committed 10 assassinations with his first murder in Galkayo in 2008 soon after finishing training. He was popular on social media, posting pictures and statements on his Facebook account in support of the Somali government.
He then went on to carry out assassinations by killing Abdulkadir Jama Nugal, a former Mudug regional prosecutor who was targeted near Al Aziz Mosque, and Abdi Ka'an, a senior Puntland intelligence official.
After police interrogations, Bashir and other 7 fellow militants were arraigned in Mudug and Ayn court that slapped them with death and jail sentences for killings and blasts in northern Galkayo since 2008.
Major Awil Warsame Mohamed, the attorney general of the court who announced the verdict has identified the names of the other Al-Shabaab convicts facing the firing squad as following:
- Sahal Abdullahi Jama, 32, lived in Galkacyo and worked as a driver,
- Idris Mohamed Afyare, 25, born in Mogadishu, lived in Galkacyo, and worked as a shop owner,
- Salman Mohamud Saleban [Abdulkadir Alfarisi], 22, lived in Galkacyo and worked as a bakery owner,
- Jama Muriidi, 20, born in Bula-Marer, Lower Shabelle region, and worked in Galkacyo as a Tuk-Tuk driver.
Jama who took his training in Galkayo has been charged with complicity in the murder of Omar Dheere, business union leader, Abdirahman Mohamed Abdulle, the administrator of Israac village and Journalist Abdirizak Ali Abdi (Silver) was shot dead in November 2014 working for HCTV and Daljir Radio.
Joined Al-Shabaab in 2008, Afyare was a key member of the group’s hit squad. He killed four people, a security guard, Hassan Yare, a local trader, and a top army Colonel Ahmed Mohamed Dhegaweyne.
Saleban who joined Al-Shabaab in 2009, trained in Galgalato, south of Galkayo. He involved in the killing of six people, including Hassan Hussein, an elder and Bashir Abdi Garas, Mudug regional prosecutor.
Mohamed, who joined Al-Shabaab from Batulo-Mareer in 2009, reportedly moved to Galkayo in 2016 where carry out three assassinations against Farhan Jeemis Abdulle, a journalist working for Radio Daljir killed in May 2012, and Mohamed Jama, an elder.
All incidents were recorded in Galkayo, located some 750 km north of the capital Mogadishu. The city which has witnessed deadly attacks straddles the border between Puntland and Galmudug states.
The terrorist Al-Shabaab has retaken control of Ba’adweyne near Galkayo this week from Galmudug and SNA forces as the militants intensify attacks in Somalia after the U.S. military halted airstrikes since pulling hundreds of soldiers out of the country in January under Trump order.