The explosion two days ago at Mogadishu’s restaurant on Lido Beach is believed to be the work of a sophisticated network attempting to destabilize Somalia in order to secure an electoral win for the opposition.
At the time of the blast, ten lawmakers and other dignitaries from Khatumo state of Somalia were having iftar with police Chief General Abdi Hassan Hijar.
It was confirmed later there were 8 dead and around 20 injured at the scene. Abdi-aziz district police commander, Liban Shidane, is among the wounded.
Radio Mogadishu, which is operated by the Ministry of Information, broadcasted early and without evidence that it was the act of an Al-Shabab suicide bomber all the more the national media are very slow to report similar events.
From that initial announcement, many other so-called independent media, malicious or otherwise, picked up on this narrative and amplified it.
According to Abdusamad Abdullahi Elmi, an expert in security, it is plausible the blast at the Pescatore restaurant was the act of a suicide bomber with the intention to cause as much harm as possible.
He added that it could also have been caused by a remote-controllable explosive concealed in a package carried by an unsuspecting delivery man who was probably misled about the content.
The delivery man, whether he knew of his lethal load or not, was prohibited to enter the restaurant by the security staff. That is when the explosion went off.
Asked how it was possible for Radio Mogadishu journalists to know so early the origin of the explosion, Mr. Elmi said that the presenter should have already had in hand what he was going to say at the appropriate time.
According to him, it is possible that there would have been coordination between those who operate public radio and those who ordered the attack.
Either since these media have passed into the hands of individuals oppose to the Farmajo administration security achievements, the narrative of an Al-Shabab suicide bomber and insecurity pay off a lot.
Somalia is going through an unprecedented political polarization where the prime minister and the president are at loggerheads.
The Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble controls the public media – SNTV, SONNA, Radio Mugadishu – and the electoral commission while all the security forces – SNA, NISA, National Police – are behind President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo.
Mr. Elmi finally added that it was almost impossible that the attack would have taken place without the support of a cell within the Somali government in coordination with a foreign organization with local ramifications.
Ali Mohamed Salah, another pundit, concurs. The suicide bomber’s narrative has everything to do with the sham elections and the opposition desperation to prevent the incumbent from being re-elected.
In his analysis, a pattern in these attacks targeting personalities close to Farmajo, in this case General Hijar, is emerging.
There would be individuals or groups working to pit Somalis against each other. It started with the twin attacks in Beledweyne which the opposition and Prime Minister Roble immediately blamed on NISA.
The agency, which Roble tried to bring under his control last year and which is the subject of the opposition’s diatribes for some time, had nevertheless warned the prime minister that terrorist attacks were in the making. Information that national security subsequently shared with the public.
It was followed a few days ago by the assassination of the patriotic poet and elder Bedel Jama Hirsi. The poet frequently implored the opposition and Roble’s supporters to stop their agitations and tone down their violent rhetoric for the sake of the nation. In return, some opposition supporters did not hesitate to publicly call for his murder to silence him.
Among the most important targeted assassinations, there is the Galkaayo attack which targeted the Foreign Affairs Minister and that of Bosaso aimed at the Planning Minister. Not forgetting the February attack in Kismayo which cost the life of Sheikh Abdinasir Haji Ahmed.
The narrative of a resurgence of Al-Shabab, who are effectively cornered in remote rural areas, appeals to this opposition which is pushing for presidential elections in a different location citing insecurity.
Electing Somali leaders in neighboring countries was accepted ten years ago due to insecurity and these countries political machination. However, since the election of President Farmajo and the restructuring of the NISA by Fahad Yasin, the safety of Somali personalities is assured.
Also according to Mr. Salah, this current violence would probably increase until the presidential election in May. But the president should not give excuses to an opposition that calls for a clan war as a scare tactic without leaving security unchecked.
On the other hand, the police force and the NISA should protect elected officials, candidates, opponents of the government and even controversial personalities. They should also urge them not to skimp on protective means and follow police guidelines on their safety in the days to come.
Finally, for Mr. Elmi, security is everyone’s responsibility. The national security forces should warn the population of suspicious packages or not agree to transport anything of which they do not know the contents.
The public must trust local law enforcement and help them regain control of security. Above all, social media users, especially those living in foreign countries, should stop stoking the fire of hatred in an environment as volatile as Somalia.
Opposition groups should have the well-being of a population traumatized by decades of insecurity at heart if they really want to lead this country.
Finally, the media have a great responsibility on this issue. They must demonstrate professionalism and avoid disseminating hateful and violent remarks.