By Ahmed Ibrahim PhD
The New York Times reported Qatar proxy elements were involved in terrorist attacks that advanced Doha’s interests. Communication intercepts by foreign intelligence agency shared with the NY Times, conversation between Khalifa Al-Muhanadi, a businessman with close ties to Emir Tamim bin Hamid Al Thani and Hassan Hamza Asad Hashim, Qatar’s Ambassador to Somalia confirm that Doha has been using proxy elements for terrorist attacks and assassination to advance its interests in Somalia.
Reports from western and Somali government sources allege that Fahad Yasin-led proxy elements of the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) and Al-Shabaab Amniyat working for Qatar are behind terrorist attacks and assassination, including the attempted-on James Swan, the UN’s Secretary General Special Representative for Somalia. These proxies allegedly sought to eliminate SRSG Swan after he challenged Fahad and Doha’s interests and publicly told the government to not interfere in the Jubaland and Galmudug elections, disrupting efforts to undermine and marginalize Somali regions allied with the United Arab Emirates. Qatar is aware of proxy NISA allies use Amniyat, according to western officials. SRSG Swan clashed with the government over the UN role in Somalia and support of federalism and Galmudug, Jubaland and Puntland states. Qatar proxy allies in the government concluded that it will be too difficult to dismiss Swan, a senior American diplomat after Somalia expelled former SRSG Nicholas Haysom earlier this year.
Since arriving in Mogadishu, SRSG Swan, a former U.S. Ambassador who previously served as the Ambassador to Congo, Special Representative to Somalia, and Ambassador to Djibouti has become a thorn in the side of Qatar and Fahad, traveling to Puntland, Jubaland, Southwest, Hirshabelle, Galmudug and Somaliland meeting with regional presidents at odds with Doha’s interests. In addition, proxy allies of Qatar were not pleased with Swan for urging the government to pursue reconciliation and political settlement with the region and focus on delivery of free and fair one-person-one-vote elections in 2020/2021.
The international community is aware of Qatar’s role supporting of Al-Shabaab and Daesh, as well as Fahad’s ties to Amniyat and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Force (IRGC), that provides Qatar financed weapons and explosives to Al-Shabaab and Daesh. Qatar recently used Ahmed Isse Awad, the Foreign Minister of Somalia (through Fahad’s connection and intsruction) to undermine regional and international community efforts to list Al-Shabaab as a terrorist organization under the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution that would have sanctioning them, according to western and Somali diplomats. Resolution 1267, would have restricted and sanctioned individuals and groups linked to Al-Shabaab, including Qatar, Fahad and other financiers.
Since 2017, Qatar has been waging a covert bloody war in Mogadishu, Galmudug, Jubbaland, and Puntland, and using NISA and Amniyat. Fahad, an alleged member of Al-Shabaab, the ICU and Al-Itihad Al-Islam has a close association with Amniyat and previously worked with Ahmed Godane, Aden Hashi Ayrow, and Hassan Dahir Aweys, according to regional intelligence officials. He has been seeking to consolidate Qatar’s power and influence, increasing terrorist attacks to disrupt and delay free and fair one-person-one-vote elections in 2020/2021. Fahad controls the parliament and pays them $8,000 monthly salary and other support provided by Qatar to allied members.
Qatar Brings Terror and Destruction to Somalia
As I previously warned in May 12, 2018 article “The Rise of Qatar Controlled Radical Islamist Government in Somalia”, Qatar and its proxies are actively working with Amniyat and Daesh to target individuals or groups they deem as a threat to their interests and efforts. Since 2004, Doha has pursued destructive policy to further destabilize Somalia, covertly providing moral, military and financial support to the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), Hizbul Islam, Al-Shabaab, and now Daesh, spending hundreds of millions of dollars, according to reports. As far back as 2009, the Transition Federal Government (TFG) was concerned about Qatar financing and support of Al-Shabaab and requested U.S. interreference. Doha directly supported Ahmed Godane, Aden Hashi Ayrow, Hassan Dahir Aweys, Fuad Mohamed Khalaf “Shongale”, and Mohamed Said Atom, Al-Shabaab commander in Puntland. Qatar later granted Atom asylum in Doha after he allegedly defected from Al-Shabaab.
In addition to Fahad, Qatar has developed a secret network of paid operatives working to advance its destructive policy in Somalia. Doha’s petro money under the tutelage of Fahad Yasin, has created subservient group in the Somali government that include Ahmed Isse Awad, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohamed Abukar Duale, the Minister of Internal Security, Gamal Mohamed Hassan, the Minister of Planning, Abdirahman Duale Beyle, the Minister of Finance, and Abdulqadir Ahmed Kheyr, the State Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Qatar has also allies in the parliament led by Abdiweli Ibrahim Ali Sheikh “Muudey”, the Deputy Speaker and relative of Fahad. Qatar is in Somalia seeking to prevent or delay exploration of tens of billions of barrels of off-shore oil deposits and over trillions cubic meters of natural gas reserves. The oil and gas exploration in the Indian Ocean present a direct threat to Qatar economy heavily dependent on export of gas.
Qatar Proxy Allies Build Covert Terrorist Network in Somalia
Since taking charge of NISA, Fahad, and Zakariya Hersi, a former head of Al-Shabaab’s Amniyat have allegedly established a NISA and Amniyat cells behind many of the terrorist attacks and assassination in Mogadishu, across south-central Somalia, and Puntland. Qatar supported NISA cells include Sadik John, Abdikadir Mohamed Nur, Hassan Kulmiye “Dhuux”, Abdullahi Kulane, Abdirahman Dheere, Mohamud Jeego, Farhan Qarole, Mohamed Khadar, Mahad Karow, Yusuf Jeego, and Najib Arab. The cells work with Al-Shabaab to carry out Doha sponsored terrorist attacks and assassinations in Somalia. Qatar also has a covert paid media in Somalia to advance Doha’s interest.
Qatar Uses Proxy Operatives to Execute Terrorist Attack in Somalia
- On July 25, 2019, at 4:45 PM, a female Al-Shabaab Suicide bomber walked into the mayor office in Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital during a high-level and scheduled security meeting, detonating explosives, seriously injuring the Mayor (and Governor of Banadir Region) Abdirahman Omar Osman (also known as Engineer Yarisow) and killing eight people, including District Commissioners, according to reports. SRSG Swan and his UN staff left before the suicide bomber entered the conference room and detonated her suicide belt, according to senior Somali officials.
- According to western and Somali officials, A senior Mogadishu-based Amniyat operative told NISA operative that a female suicide bomber was ready and asked for authorization to access to Mogadishu Municipality building. The NISA operative linked ordered CCTV cameras at the building switched off and ordered checkpoints, and security to allow the vehicle carrying the female suicide bomber to go through unchecked. The attacker missed Ambassador Swan and his staff because they left early for Mogadishu International Airport to avoid the mandatory AMISOM closure of the Mogadishu airport entrances.
- On July 14, 2019, Al-Shabaab operatives using Suicide Vehicle Borne Explosives Device, and small arms stormed hotel in Kismaayo killing 32 people including prominent Somali-Canadian journalist Hodan Nalayeh, according to reports. Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack, stating they were targeting foreign nationals at the hotel. Communication intercepts indicate that NISA – Amniyat operatives in Kismaayo were allegedly in constant contact with proxy NISA operatives of Qatar working for Fahad and Zakariya at NISA Headquarters, according to officials.
- Proxy elements planned, and financed the attack, using NISA and Amniyat cell trained and deployed from Gedo. Proxy NISA operatives of Qatar also regularly communicated with senior Al-Shabaab leaders and operatives including Mahad Karate, Al-Shabaab Deputy Emir and senior Amniyat operatives. Western diplomats and Somali officials suggest the Kismaayo attack was probably ordered to disrupt and delay Jubaland elections. The U.S. and international community are investigating the attack that killed U.S. citizens.
- On February 4, 2019, Gunmen shot and killed Paul Anthony Formosa, a Maltese national and the head of P&O Ports in Puntland, a subsidiary of Dubai World Port (DP World) as he was going to work. Despite Al-Shabaab quick claims of responsibility, credible sources indicate that proxy NISA operatives of Qatar were behind the assassination. Doha provides support to Al-Shabaab and Daesh in Puntland.
Qatar Supports Al-Shabaab and the Daesh Terrorist Attacks in Somalia
According to New York Times, Khalifa Al-Muhanadi, a Qatari businessman linked to Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in telephone communication intercepted by foreign intelligence agency said that terrorist attack in Puntland was carried out to advance Doha’s interests in Somalia against the United Arab Emirates. Al Muhanadi an alleged senior officer of Qatari Intelligence told the Qatari Ambassador to Somalia that “the bombings and killings in Somalia, we know who are behind them” and the terrorist attacks was done in order “to make Dubai people run away from there”. The ambassador told Al-Muhanadi that the attacks were taking place “to make them run away” referring to the UAE.
The United States and the international community have repeatedly accused Qatar of sponsoring militant groups in Somalia, and despite growing intelligence of Doha’s support to Al-Shabaab and Daesh – Qatar continues to deny the charge. Qatar does, in fact, support Al-Shabaab, even though the groups is designated terrorist organization sanctioned by the international community and banned by the Somali government. The U.S. have criticized Qatar for supporting Al-Shabaab cells behind terrorist attacks, frequently attacking innocent civilians in Somalia and Kenya, Somali security forces, and the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM).
Qatar while providing millions of dollars to Fahad, allegedly spends millions more annually to support Al-Shabaab, according to western and Somali officials. Doha also provides Al-Shabaab and Daesh with sophisticated weapons and explosives materials from Iran in coordination with Iran’s Elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), according to western officials. These high-grade explosives made of chemicals procured from Iran have contributed to increase lethality of Al-Shabaab and Daesh bombs, killing more civilians and security, according to security officials. Qatar played a major role in the establishment and financing of Al-Shabaab and recently Daesh in Puntland. The U.S. previously accused Qatar of cultivating Al-Shabaab, channeling assistant to the group via Eritrea, according to U.S. cables disclosed by Wikileaks.
In Conclusion, Qatar is a destructive and destabilizing force in Somalia, and supports terrorists waging a brutal war against the people and state of Somalia. Fahad has turned NISA into a proxy terrorist entity working for Qatar and against the interests and security of Somalia. Farmaajo after the Mogadishu municipality attack admitted terrorist groups are in the government and called on security officials to come up with a plan to remove them.
Brigadier General Abdalla Abdalla, the former NISA Deputy and one of the most capable intelligence and counterterrorism officers in Somalia said in July 27 twitter post in Somalia “that he is surprised by the statement, because President Farmaajo was given the list of Al-Shabaab members in the government”. Michael Rubin, an influential republican former Senior Adviser to Office of the Secretary of Defense and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and a critic of President Farmaajo recently said “Somalia’s president is no ally against terrorism”.
Farmaajo knows the most prominent terrorist in Somalia is Fahad, his friend, financiers and campaign manager. Despite knowing Fahad ties to terrorism and Al-Shabaab, the Islamic Courts and Al-Itihad, he rewarded him first by appointing him as his chief of staff and then putting him in charge of NISA. Fahad is a fox guarding the hen house.
If Farmaajo is serious about fighting Al-Shabaab and ending terrorism and saving Somalia, he must first choose between loyalty to Fahad or the nation. As it has been for two years, “Fahad and Qatar before the country”, as Farmaajo and Kheyre put their loyalty to Qatar and Fahad before the country and their own integrity. Time has come for Farmaajo and Kheyre to choose sides. Are they with Fahad, Al-Shabaab and Qatar’s death and destruction or are they with the Somali people?
The time has come for Farmaajo to put Somalia a head of the interest of Fahad and Qatar. Where there is a smoke, there is a fire and the appearance of Somali government ties to Qatar and its proxy allies Al-Shabaab and Deash (ISIS) is a major concern and should be enough to move against Qatar, Fahad and his network of terrorists.
We call on Farmaajo and Kheyre to man up and fire Fahad Yasin, end Al-Shabaab’s infiltration of the government, Qatar’s destabilizing and its destructive agenda.
Ahmed Ibrahim Ph.D
Dr. Ahmed Ibrahim is a former senior UN official who served in the Africa, the Middle East and the United Nations.
Dr. Ibrahim is a security and development consultant as well as freelance writer based in Nairobi.
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