The government’s war against Al-Shabab is escalating and causing casualties on both sides. Government forces and Ma’awisley militias have made significant progress, with Al-Shabab leaders either eliminated or surrendering in some areas. Besides fighting back with all they got, the ragtag violent organization has increased its suicide attacks against Somali personalities on its hit list.
So far, Ali Jeyte, President of the Hiran State, has been considered as the main target because of his dedication of eradicating Al-Shabab from his region and his success on the ground against the terror group. Indeed, Mr. Jeyte has survived numerous suicide attacks that left hundred people dead but left him resolute since August 2022.
Qoorqoor, high on the hit list
Now Abdi Karie Qoorqoor, president of Galmudug regional state, is also high on this list since he declared all-out war against Al-Shabab this summer. In recent months, he was seen visiting and motivating troops on the front line, dressed in military attire.
Despite the combined forces of the Galmudug Dervishes, the national army and the Ma’awisley, Al-Shabab remains as strong as ever and extremely deadly. Moreover, to loosen the grip, the nebulous militants are directly attacking President Qoorqoor, determined to eliminate him at all costs.
Two weeks earlier, on September 15, Galmudug President Abdi Karie Qoorqoor and federal MPs narrowly escaped a Suicide Vehicle-borne Improvised Explosive Device (SVBIED) attack in Las-Ga’mey, Mudug.
Two lawmakers, Senator Abdi Qaybdid and MP Abdisalam Dhaban-Cad, were slightly injured when the building they were in collapsed due to the explosion. The attack was thwarted by two quick-witted personal guards of Qoorqoor, who unfortunately were martyred for blocking the bomb-laden vehicle with their truck.
At the first opportunity, a rare occurrence, Qoorqoor would later pay a personal visit to their parents to offer condolences, comfort them and promise continued assistance for the highest their sons paid to “defend their country, their people and their religion “.
Who will gain from eliminating Qoorqoor
Mahad Salad, the head of National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA), was suspected of involvement in the Las-Ga’mey suicide bombing. As in previous cases, the attack occurred just hours after his visit to the Qoorqoor camp.
Salad had also refused to spend the night with the other officials and had left the scene hastily with troops. Not to allay suspicions, reports later indicated that he had prior knowledge of two SVBIEDs en route to Las-Ga’mey, but had not informed Qoorqoor of the threat.
Qoorqoor was reportedly furious and vehemently asked Salad to come clean on this. The spymaster whose first cousin, Mahad Karatay, a former NISA agent himself, is also an Al-Shabab leader, did not appreciate being accused.
The altercation in the open and Qoorqoor suspicion gave further credence to Fahad Yasin’s revelation that Mahad Salad had been hounded for years by NISA for his work with the terrorist organization.
Additionally, Mahad Salad, who is vying for the Galmudug presidential seat in the upcoming regional elections, could gain more if Qoorqoor vacates his post sooner. However, Qoorqoor considers to postpone the elections at least until the end of next year, like other regional presidents.
Seeing Qoorqoor as Farmajo legacy
Mahad Salad and President Hassan Sheikh Mahamud view Qoorqoor as a remnant of former President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo’s administration. While in the opposition, Mahad and Hassan Sheikh formed a clan militia and attempted to violently oust him from power in 2021. They also criticized Qoorqoor, a member of their clan, for siding with Farmajo.
Once installed in power, President Hassan appointed Mahad Salad as NISA director before he even picked a prime minister. However, Fahad Yasin, the former head of NISA, had informed him of Mahad Salad’s activities for Al-Shabab and his assassination attempt against former Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre.
For three months, Qoorqoor has welcomed President Hassan Sheikh into his home, whom he wishes to have as an ally rather than as an enemy. Hassan Sheikh fled a violence-ridden Mogadishu and avoided Jowhar, the capital of Al-Shabab-infested Middle Shabelle, which is also the stronghold of his own sub-clan.
However, on the morning of September 28, Qoorqoor and his guest escaped another suicide attack when 2 SVBIEDs heading towards his compound blew up once they were stopped at a checkpoint in Dhusamareb.
The fact that these trucks passed through several other checkpoints without incident demonstrates that members of Al-Shabab have infiltrated government forces. These attempts will continue as long as Qoorqoor stands in the way of Mahad Salad and Hassan Sheikh, due to his misguided choices, realizes that he is leading the country towards an abyss.