Posts by IMH

Two Kenyan Soldiers Abducted by al-Shabaab in January Alive but Chained
Kenyan Hostages Mr. Edward Mule (left) and Mr. Fredrick Irungu (right)
Harakat Al-Shabaab Al-Mujahideen Media Department
Kenyan Hostages Mr. Edward Mule (left) and Mr. Fredrick Irungu (right)

Two Kenyan officials kidnapped by al-Shabaab insurgents battling for control of Somalia were spotted in the port city of Kismayo, in Somalia's Lower Juba region, on Monday after being held hostage for two months.

Kenyan government employees, Edward Mule, a 30 year old district officer, and Fredrick Irungu, a 56 year old clerk with the Registrar of Persons, were seen looking weak and chained, but alive near K2 Building (an ex-governor's house), according to residents who spoke to Somalia Report on Wednesday.

Residents near K2 building said al-Shabaab brought the two Kenyans to Kismayo on Monday morning from Bardhere district after Kenyan Defense Forces and Somali troops approached the area.

"Two armed Toyotas full of al-Shabaab militias and one Toyota Surf carrying the two hostages entered the building's compound. During that time, al-Shabaab tightened the security of the area," said a resident who asked to remain anonymous for fear of his safety.

Another source close to al-Shabaab told Somalia Report that the group is planning to transfer the hostages to Lower Shabelle region for better security.

Al-Shabaab kidnapped the two administration police officers from Gerila in Wajir district, 60km from the Somali border, in northeastern Kenya on January 12 of this year and paraded them before the media the following day.

Somalia Report will continue to monitor developments and attempt to verify this with official sources.

Pirates Want $2M, Businessmen Want it Released Without Condition
MV Leila
MV Leila

Ransom negotiations for the hijacked Panama-flagged MV Leila were suspended after the Somali pirates holding the ship refused to accept the request of the company whose goods are on the vessel to release the ship without condition.

Al-Istiqraar, which has rice, sugar and other commodities on board, said pirates demanded $2 million for the vessel and her crew of 24. In turn, the company refused and demanded the MV Leila to be released immediately. The pirates refused, saying it has cost them a lot of money to run the operation and they need to be compensated for their investment, according to a representative for the ship.

Abdirisaaq Ali Mohamed, an agent for the Al-Istiqraar, told Somalia Report they suspended the talks with the pirates.

"This is unacceptable. We will not pay any ransom our own goods," said Mr. Abdirisaq. "Since the vessel is being held off the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, we referred the issue to Puntland President Abdirahman Farole and we are waiting for his response."

Pirates hijacked the Ro/Ro ship near Oman on February 21, 2012 as it was heading to Bosaso to bring goods and pick up livestock. It is now being held off the coast of Bargal in Puntland's Bari region and is in operation as a mothership.

The hijackers are reportedly a small group of pirates from the Majeerteen clan. They are the same pirates who seized Savina al-Salam in January which was laden with livestock and released it days later without ransom. The group has little experience in hijacking and lacks the support of locals on land, necessary to maintain a hijacked ship. After they hijacked the MV Leila, they anchored in Bargal but soon left after local residents protested their arrival.

The vessel was built in 1973 and is owned and operated by New Port Cargo & shipping of Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Beseiged City May Crumble Under al-Shabaab Pressure

Health workers in Gedo’s capital city of Garbaharey expressed their concern regarding the shortage of medicine in the city. The manager of the Garbaharey General Hospital Dr Ahmed Ali, told Somalia Report that 60 patients are admitted in the wards, some of whom have sustained bullet wounds from recent battles and 20 of them are suffering from malaria and other communicable diseases. However, the hospital has not yet provided full treatment to them since there is a shortage of drugs supplies within the town.

Garbaharey is currently under control of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) who ousted al-Shabaab fighters from the area last year. Al-Shabaab militants have positioned themselves on the outskirts of the city and set up blockades on routes leading into the city. Garbaharey remains inaccessible and is bound to give in to the siege by militias.

Dr Ahmed appealed to all aid agencies and Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) for help in the form of essential drugs and medical supplies to cater for the health needs of residents in the city. Dr Ahmed urged all medical agencies and the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) to act upon the situation immediately. He warned that that if the aid agencies do not provide relief aid in the form of essential drugs, the situation will worsen.

The TFG Governor of Gedo, Hussien Mohamud Farey, who spoke to Somalia Report, explained that the TFG is struggling to clean off al-Shabaab remnants in Gedo and pave way for aid agencies and TFG's Ministry of Health to access the area.

“Our administration cannot fully cater for the needs of the region. There is no assistance from the TFG in Mogadishu. We have been awaiting the salaries of the TFG troops in Gedo for several months now,” he said.

Al-Shabaab fighters have blockaded all roads to the area making it impossible to supply medicine, food and other humanitarian aid to Garbaharey.

Abdulahi Mohamed Ali, a patient in Garbaharey Hospital who spoke to Somalia Report, stated that they have not received any treatment during the two months he has been in the Hospital. He also mentioned that aid agencies have not arrived in Garbaharey since al-Shabaab barred the roads to the city three months ago.

Another Garbaharey resident informed Somalia Report they have not gotten sufficient food supplies and clean water for months since TFG troops and Kenyan Defence Forces (KDF) drove out al-Shabab fighters from the area.

Garbaharey has only one General Hospital which consists of ten rooms and the operating theatre. World Health Organization (WHO) used to supply drugs to the hospital but they left after al-Shabaab banned them from the region.

Breaking News
American Jihadi Omar Hammami Detained After Posting Video
Omar Hammami AKA Abu Mansoor al-Amriki
Omar Hammami AKA Abu Mansoor "al-Amriki"

Al-Shabaab militants arrested US-born fighter Omar Hammami, known as Abu Mansoor "al-Amriki," Sunday afternoon at Gobweyn village, 15 kilometers north of Kismayo. Al-Shabaab officers held a meeting in Gobweyn and invited the Muharijin group (al-Shabaab's foreign fighters) to attend. Al-Amriki arrived at the meeting with both foreign fighter and Somali al-Shabaab members.

An al-Shabaab fighter present at the scene of the arrest spoke to Somalia Report.

"Al-Amriki and his followers arrived at Gobweyn were instantly surrounded by armed al-Shabaab officers. Al-Amriki's guards were not strong enough to defend him. He surrendered to them and they moved him back to Lower Shabelle region."

is al-Shabaab's best known foreign fighters known for his use of rap music online. He achieved celebrity in mid-2010, when he posted a recruitment video on YouTube depicting his ambush of an Ethiopian and Somali government convoy.

On March 16, al-Amriki posted a video on YouTube in Arabic and English, in which he expressed fears that his life was in danger due to differences with al-Shabaab over "matters of Shariah and matters of strategy."

Despite the preemptive video in which Hammami clearly states his concern about the threat posed by al-Shabaab. An al-Shabaab intelligence officer interviewed by Somalia Report denied that the group intended to cause any harm to al-Amriki. The identical statement was tweeted by the "HSM Press" twitter account which claims to represent al-Shabaab but has never endorsed by al Shabaab or has provided proof of his identity.

The English-educated Somali who owns the account denied the arrest without referencing the source. "All reports of #AlAmriki's arrest are false and intended purely for propaganda purposes. Beware of such inaccurate reports"

Why al-Amriki would obey a summons to an al-Shabaab meeting after publicly expressing a belief that the group had intentions to assassinate him is not yet clear. An alternative account published in Shabelle News has al-Amriki arrested at his home in Marka during a visit to his wife and child. Marka is the operational headquarters of al-Shabaab where a number of senior leaders are seen.

Sheikh Abdirahman Hudeyfa, the newly-appointed al-Shabaab governor of Juba regions, confirmed al-Amriki's arrest to Somalia Report. He stated that al-Amriki was in good health and had only been detained for the purposes of an investigation.

Relations between the Somali leadership of al-Shabaab and the group's foreign fighters have been strained of late. Somali al-Shabaab leaders have already been implicated in the deaths of at least two top al-Qaeda lieutenants. Head al-Shabaab commander Ahmed Ali Godane is known to have arranged the killing of Nairobi embassy bomber Fazul Mohammed, and the January 22 death of Bilal al-Barjawi in a US drone strike prompted the nationalist and transnationalist factions of al-Shabaab to each suspect each other over providing information to the Americans. There have numerous confusing and difficult to confirm stories about rifts between al Shabaab leaders Godane, Robow and Aweys.

American Jihadi

There are number of foreign fighters in al-Shabaab's ranks, most are Somalis from Western countries followed by Yemenis with a few Kenyans and other nationalities. Hammami is unusual due to his high profile and use of media. Something that is a benefit to al-Shabaab in attracting English-speaking volunteers but a negative in bringing attention from US anti-terrorism efforts to what is supposed to be a Somali driven insurgency to oust foreigners.

Hammami is a US citizen born in Daphne, a suburb of Mobile Alabama. He became a Salafi in college and after college moved to Toronto where he married a Somali/Canadian woman. After a short stint in Egypt, Hammami and his wife moved to Somalia in November 2006 a month before the invasion of the Ethiopian army into Somalia.

"Amriki" or "The American" first appeared in al Jazeera interview in October 2007 and three months he began publishing videos containing lectures or recruitment propaganda. He has been wanted by the FBI since 2007 and may be on a JPEL Joint Prioritized Effects List for kill or capture like fellow Americans Anwar al-Awlaki and Inspire publisher Samir Khan were. Queens-native Khan and Arizonan Awlaki were killed on September 30, 2011 by a CIA airstrike.

Riverside, California native, Adam Gadahn is the only other American openly affiliated with al-Qaeda and believed to be in Pakistan working with Ayman al Zawahiri. He is also wanted on terrorism-related charges with a one million dollar bounty.

Allied Forces Battle Shabaab on the Outskirts of Hudur
TFG Forces (File Photo)
©Somalia Report, all rights reserved
TFG Forces (File Photo)

UPDATE on Wednesday night: Fighters from the al-Shabaab militant group have withdrawn most of their forces from Hudur, according to an al-Shabaab official. “This is a strategic plan. We want the TFG and Ethiopians to come the town and them we will besiege them. A few of us remain the in the town to provide reports,” said Sheikh Mumin Al-Mazul, an al-Shabaab officer.

Fighting broke out between al-Shabaab Islamist fighters and forces from Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) aided by Ethiopian troops on Wednesday afternoon when the allied forces began their advance on Hudur, in Somalia's Bakol region. The TFG and Ethiopian forces secured the outskirts of Hudur and plan to seize the city on Thursday morning.

TFG officials claimed the killed 10 al-Shabaab militants during the fighting.

"We terminated them from the outskirts of Hudur and we destroyed their defenses. God willing, tomorrow morning we will capture the city. We killed ten of them today and the rest have fled. We do not believe there are any al-Shabaab militants in the city. We believe the residents are safe," Colonel Adan Hassan Dodishe, a TFG officer of Bay and Bakol regions, told Somali Report.

Residents, however, told Somalia Report al-Shabaab fighters were still in the city.

"Al-Shabaab is getting ready to defend the city and they have brought many troops here so the TFG and the Ethiopians can't come in," said a resident.

Residents further reported that tensions are high in Hudur and fear fighting will break out at anytime.

The allied forces are now 20km outside Hudur, the only main town in Bakol still under the control of al-Shabaab.

Al-Shabaab officials were not immediately available to comment.