June 10, 2010 ·38 Comments
BURAO (Somalilandpress) — Police clashed with an armed group on Thursday in Somaliland’s second city of Burao leaving one dead and two injured.
Residents in the October neighbourhood of Burao notified police when they became suspicious of the behaviour of a group of men who recently moved into one of the homes in the area.
The police arrived shortly after midday and tried to investigate the house. The neighbours suspicious was confirmed when the armed men opened fire on the police, injuring two and killing one of the senior officers.
The police over powered the group and arrested eleven people including four women. The police also seized large amounts of small arms, bomb building materials, hand grenades, sacks of explosives and other devices.
Somaliland Police Commissioner, Gen. Mohammad Saqadi Gubad said the group were a sleeper cell for Somalia’s radical Al-shabab militants who wanted to cause mayhem ahead of the elections in the country.
“I want to thank the police forces of Togdher for their bravery who thwarted a plot to target party leaders and disturb the elections,” he told local reporters in Burao.
He added an investigation was underway to determine exactly how they sneaked into the country and to determine how many other members are still in hideout.
Last month, Somalilandpress received a report from Mogadishu that Al-Shabab has recruited and sent nine Somaliland nationals to Somaliland after receiving their trainings in the Bakol region of Somalia for the last three years. It is not clear if it is the same group or another cell.
The report added the soul purpose of their mission was to spoil the elections, a practice they regard as Western institution. It is not the first time radical groups tried to carry out acts of terrorism during elections.
The leader of Al-Shabab, Ahmed Godane (adopted name: Sheik Mokhtar Abu-Zubeyr), who is also a native of Somaliland received his extremist training in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Mr Godane received an accounting scholarship to study in Pakistan funded by Saudi millionaires, he use to occasionally travel to Afghanistan during his school breaks.
Godane returned to Somaliland in late 2001 and by 2002, he started a plot to create a northern-wing for Somalia’s Al-Ittihad al-Islami, an armed militant, founded in the 90s. Mr Godane preached at the Abu-Bashir mosque in Hargeisa. He landed an accounting job at the Al Barakat office in Hargeisa, later the U.S. government listed Al-Barakat as terrorist organisation, accusing them of providing or transferring funds for radical groups.
He was able to recruit and radicalise a small group who would later carry out attacks including the killing of Analena Tonelli, an Italian aid worker working in Borame hospital, the killing of British couples in Sheikh and hijacked a vehicle belong to WFP.
The Somaliland police responded by killing or arresting many of his followers including Jama Kutiye, a senior member of the group and a close friend of Mr Godane.
After releasing most of his friends were either killed or in prison, Mr Godane found the perfect route to escape at the perfect time. Just as he felt the net was closing on him, the war between Islamic Courts Union (ICU) and the Ethiopians broke out in Southern Somalia.
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In 2006, he escaped from Somaliland forces into the Somali region of Ethiopia and before arriving in southern Somalia, taking arms against the Ethiopians. Mr Godane decided to change his name to Abu Zubeyr and rose to the General Secretary of the Islamic Courts Union.
After the split of ICU, Mr Godane joined Aden Hashi Farah “Ayro” and his long term friend, also a Somalilander and a US citizen, Ibrahim Hajji Jama “Afghani” to form Al Shabab (The Youth), they seen themselves younger than the other group led by Sheikh Dahir Aweys, a Somali-Ethio 1977 war veteran.
Even though Mr Godane has no influence in Somaliland – it is easy to radicalise many of the youth, as unemployment is over 80 per cent, many disapprove of the current administration and Ethiopian ties.
However, many of his recruiters, financiers and aids are in Somaliland prisons and it’s these prisoners that the French government has requested Somaliland to release so Mr Godane can release the French agent.
The president who understands the dangers of releasing the aid and personal friends of Ahmed Godane, has rejected their request. More front lines could open if President Rayale was to please the French. Not only are these men dangerous – they could be psychological boost for Mr Godane, a friend, a companion, a childhood memory, a Somalilander.
The French agent held in Somalia by Al Shabab.
Somalilandpress | Thursday, June 10, 2010Follow @somalilandpress