Controversy over missing intelligence officer deepens constitutional crisis in Somalia

Mohamed Abdullahi FarmajoTHE SOMALI CAPITAL MOGADISHU remains tense today, after the country’s president and prime minster, who are supported by rival militias, leveled accusations at each other over an intelligence officer’s disappearance. Ikran Tahlil, 25, who works for the Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA), disappeared in June. She was reportedly last seen entering a government vehicle outsider her home in Mogadishu. The NISA said that Tahlil had been abducted and probably executed by al-Shabaab, an East African affiliate of al-Qaeda.

However, al-Shabaab, which usually relishes opportunities to kill Somali security and intelligence personnel, denied that it had anything to do with Tahlil’s disappearance. Reacting to this unexpected turn of events, the Prime Minister, Mohamed Hussein Roble, denounced the NISA and fired its Director, Fahad Yasin. According to the Prime Minister’s office, Yasin had failed to respond to an official request about Tahlil’s whereabouts.

On Wednesday, however, the country’s President, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo (pictured), reinstated Yasin, after claiming that the prime minister was not authorized by the Constitution to fire members of the intelligence services. Farmajo also accused the Roble of “taking reckless steps that could lead to a political and security crisis” in the volatile country. Later on Wednesday, the Office of the Prime Minister announced that Roble did not intend to abide by the president’s order, because it directly violated the constitution.

President Farmajo responded on Thursday, by announcing that the prime minister’s powers to appoint and dismiss government officials would be withdrawn until the upcoming national elections. These are scheduled to begin on October 1, and end on November 25. Once again, Prime Minister Roble said he would not abide by the president’s decision, which he described as “unlawful”. He also accused Farmajo of inciting armed conflicts in the streets of Mogadishu.

Meanwhile the president has appointed a new ad hoc commission with the task of carrying out an official inquiry into Tahlil’s disappearance. But members of the missing woman’s family said they did not trust the commission and asked instead for an investigation to be carried out by the Somali military.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 17 September 2021 | Permalink

Islamist gunmen who stormed Mogadishu hotel posed as intelligence officers

Mogadishu SomaliaA group of Islamist gunmen who stormed a well-known hotel in the Somali capital on Saturday, killing and wounding dozens, convincingly posed as officers of the country’s intelligence agency, according to officials. The attack began when a truck was driven in broad daylight through the front gate of Naso-Hablod, a hotel located a few blocks from the presidential palace in Mogadishu. Shortly after the hotel’s front entrance was demolished, five heavily armed men rushed to the scene and entered the building. They told police forces and the hotel’s private security guards that they were officers of the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) of Somalia. According to police reports, the men wore uniforms displaying NISA insignia and displayed NISA identity cards bearing their photographs and names.

But the men were members of al-Shabaab, a Somali-based Sunni insurgency group that claimed responsibility for the attack on the Naso-Hablod less than an hour after the truck bomb exploded. After gaining entrance into the hotel, three of the heavily armed men fought back attempts by Somali police and security forces to enter the building. The remaining two Islamists entered guest rooms and shot guests, ultimately killing 30. The killings continued for 12 hours, until three of the five attackers were shot dead. Two more were captured alive, still dressed in NISA uniforms with what appeared to be NISA-issued identity cards pinned on them. Government officials told local media that the uniforms and identity cards worn by the attackers did not differ from those issued to actual NISA employees.

On Sunday, the government of Somalia announced the firing of NISA’s Director-General, Abdullahi Mohamed Ali. The head of the federal police, General Abdihakim Saeed, was also dismissed at the same time. According to reports from the Somali capital, the government is concerned about a possible NISA connection to the Naso-Hablod attack. There are fears that al-Shabaab may have systematically infiltrated the intelligence service, or that the group may have sympathizers within the ranks of the agency. Two weeks ago, the Somali capital witnessed the worst terrorist attack in its recent history, when a massive bomb killed over 350 people. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but most observers believe that al-Shabaab was behind it.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 30 October 2017 | Permalink

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