By Muse Ismail “Warfa”
The National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA), never left the baby cot since it was born close to a decade ago. Growth-stunted, it’s been afflicted by plethora of infectious diseases and has been on its death bed since President Farmajo’s election on February 8, 2017 without those on the outside knowing whether it’s actually a live.
The bold and enlightened few assert that there never was anything national about NISA, and that it has always been, and still is, BISA, where the “B” stands for Banadir. To put its pity state in perspective, BISA is supposedly a national agency, whose jurisdiction is limited to Banadir and ironically still unable to protect the people in Banadir from the wrath of assassins, who strike at will, whenever, wherever, in a near-daily occurrence. So we would use the name BISA since it’s a fitting, instead of NISA.
Because it lived truthfully to its BISA name, those in the know say the agency was even more truthful in that regard through its composition. Old and new recruitment alike, the agency was disproportionately south-central heavy. That automatically meant Somali inhabitants from north of south Galkayo, even though they were not completely left out, but were nevertheless a dismal minority in BISA.
Enter Fahad Yasin. “the most powerful, most influential figure in the political affairs of the country. In fact, he is considered by many, as the most powerful non-elected official in Somalia for the past 10 years. Many wonder how Fahad, an unknown, reclusive individual rarely seen in public, who hails from a small clan in a country in which clan politics reigns supreme, has made strong strides in influencing Somalia’s politics and politicians alike and astonishingly in a short period. In spite of his immense influence on the course of politics, little is known about him.” Writes WardheerNews in its editorial on Jan 8, 2018.
Fahad gained his power and influence because of un regulated Qatari political funds, that solely at his disposal.
Fahad became the default BISA chief as soon as Farmajo was elected president, never mind Sanbaloolshe’s (what an ignominious end for him in Qalbidhagax’s rendition) frustration of his efforts as the de facto BISA chief, albeit remotely, was short-lived.
After Sambaloolshe’s exit, BISA was exclusively deployed as a partisan political outfit for repressive political ends. During this period is also when BISA was embroiled in insubordination, cockfight and coming to the fore of accusations of Al-Shabaab infiltration and takeover.
Opposition elements, who were on the receiving end of BISA as partisan repressive tool, continuously cried foul and were left afoul. Their churning petition after petition, demanding of BISA to back off from engaging in political activities, and being used by the executive, did not yield any relief for them.
To his credit, Hassan Sheikh, with all his leadership shortcomings, exhibited more tolerance, and while he kept BISA with all its messy, infantile ability, did not use the agency as a repressive tool against descanting voices. Not as violently as Farmajo did.
If Farmajo will ever be remembered for any infamy after Qalbidhagax’s rendition, which marked his lowest ebb, it will be his misuse of BISA for political repression.
Now that Fahad Yasin finally came out to the open to take direct control of the agency, which is subject to legislative oversight (parliament), if they choose to excercise their constitutional duties; he should take the following into consideration for him to ensure he affects tangible changes in the agency to enable him reap an enduring positive legacy for himself:
1.One can’t remain mysterious forever. Fahad remained mysterious long enough. It’s time he comes out of his cocoon and, by show of goodwill, and call for all to genuinely take part in the security of the country.
2.Commission a multi-agency task force, including experts seconded by international partner states and prominent Somalis, to conduct proper audit of BISA if at all Fahad wants to succeed in dropping the “B” and reinstating the national “N” to get a NISA that can stand tall, that can stand to scrutiny, that can earn the trust and respect of the people and the trust and respect of its peers in the region and internationally, and that will become the pride of Somalis.
He should know the only real name change necessary is a change from BISA to NISA through reforms that come following a credible and it such as described above. Forget about all the superficial name-changes that was all over the media. It will be a waste of time.
3. Fahad should know what goes around comes around. The precedent he sets today, in terms making BISA a witch-hunt tool, will come back to haunt him as soon as he loses his power grip or is made to lose it.
4. Whatever reform he fails to make today when he has the opportunity to, because he thinks a professionalized BISA or NISA is politically inconvenient to him, will give any successive administration the opportunity to make.
5.Let him not waste his time to make unnecessary changes with the sole purpose of tilting the composition of the agency’s leadership, rank and file because it will not endure to outlive his leadership. Whatever changes he makes should be for the good of the agency and for posterity.
6. He should bear in mind that this country is in a post conflict transition and any governance strategy that ignores reconciliation, inclusivity and compromise, and adopts factionalism and aggression as its preferred modus operand may cause more harm than good.
7. He should remember that security is a shared goal for every peace loving citizen and it will be counterproductive for one faction or administration to purport to be better in securing the country than everyone else in the past and future. For this reason, he should adopt an inclusive approach to security where opposition figures, regional states, international partners, and former leaders are given the opportunity to contribute. That’s the only and best way to succeed. This country needs everyone’s contribution. This country can ill-afford divisive politics. Inflated egos will send this fragile country back to the brinks.
8. It’s widely agreed that this country has become more dangerous for politicians on the fateful night of 17th December, 2017 when an opposition political figure’s house was raided without warrant and a state agency committed a crime, unprecedented since post 1991 Somalia. More dangerous because, as a result of 17th December raid, which resulted in deaths, future revenge against those perceived to be responsible for the ill-fated raid by those aggrieved could present a lurking danger. The FGS payment of reparations for the deaths might help as much as it confirms/admits culpability. As such, politicians have to be mindful of the consequences of their words and deeds lest they cause more harm.
9. Fahad has been accused of many things, fairly or unfairly, relating mostly to a supposed extremist dark past and claims of active involvement in ideologically inspired armed conflicts in the mid-1990s as a member of Al-Itihad Al-Islami (AIAl) side by side with the likes of Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys and the who’s who in later day Al-Shabaab leadership. His BISA leadership, and how he conducts himself will give a window into who he really is more than was seen of him already as the mover and shaker of FGS.
10. Lastly, if he is using his leadership of the BISA as a selfish strategy to get himself an assured round the clock state security while in the country and provide him with a good excuse upon which to request armed body guards while in other countries after he loses his current grip to power, that’d be a clever one he pulled. But again, he should remember, his politics of antagonism and aggression could have the potential to easily countermand his clever strategy of survival. What he did to his predecessor, Abdalla Abdalla, stripping him of his BISA membership on such flimsy grounds could prove for Fahad the chicken coming home to roost.
All in all, the choice is his to make. But I hope he makes the right choice, which is to stop the witch hunt and professionalize NISA through a credible, inclusive process.
Muse Ismail “Warfa”
–FAHAD: THE FUDDY-DUDDY By Abdi I. Dalal
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