(PP News Desk) — Since 2007 the North Galkayo has witnessed targeted assassinations of business leaders, civil servants, judges, journalists and traditional leaders. Al-shabaab, the proscribed militant organisation, plans and executes assassinations. How Al-shabaab had managed to form a parallel and illegal force alongside Puntland State administration to recruit young men and levy tax on businesses was shrouded in mystery before Faysal Ahmed Bashir, a former Al-shabaab operative, had volunteered to spill beans on the tactics used by the terrorist organisation.
Faysal, 32, was born in Saudi Arabia and grew up in Mogadishu and Galkayo. He finished his primary and secondary education in Galkayo.
Faysal told a reporter that Mohamed Ali Awke (aka Jerry) had recruited him in 2008. Jerry, a fellow North Galkayo resident, was responsible for recruiting young men for Al-shabaab. Faysal underwent a training at Ceelasha Biyaha on the outskirts of Mogadishu to acquire skills to use firearms and how to throw a hand grenade. Gujis was his nom de guerre.
“I was relieved of duties to make way for a new group younger recruits selected and vetted by Jerry. He became distraught when Puntland security forces arrested members of the younger recruits’ said Faysal, who admitted to have assassinated more than ten people in North Galkayo including a grandmother who was related to him.
Jerry was the chief recruiter and senior intelligence officer of Al-shaabab in North Galkayo. His remit ranged from gathering actionable intelligence on persons Al-shabaab had singled out for assassination. According to Gujis the assassin (the first hand, in Al-shabaab’s parlance), was paid 300-350 dollars. The assistant assassin (the second hand) is paid 150- 200 dollars. The third hand (the misleader), tasked with ambushing security forces, is paid 100 dollars. The assistant assassin’s assignment is to shoot the targeted person’s body guard before the assassin does the madaxjabis (shooting the official in the head). The assassin and the assistant assassin return guns used for the operation to Al-shabaab firearms officer in Galkayo.
Suicide bombings were carried out by people sent from other regions under Al-shabaab’s control. They arrive in North Galkayo and are hosted by local Al-shabaab senior officers, who play a crucial role in planning Al-shabaab operations.
“Between 2017 and 2018 Galkayo traditional leaders pledged allegiance to Al-shabaab” said a reporter from Af Meer. The Governor of Mudug appointed by Puntland, Abdilatif Sanyare, slammed traditional leaders for not attending a funeral for a former Mudug Governor killed by Al-shabaab in a suicide bombing. Most assassinations took place near mosques, between Maqrib and Isha prayers.
“It is easy to accuse North Galkayo traditional leaders of not standing up to Al-shabaab. Puntland State Government neglects youths. Al-shabaab had filled the void and recruits impressionable young, jobless men to carry out assassinations” said a North Galkayo resident, who asked to be quoted anonymously.
Some security experts have expressed dismay over reliance solely on counter-terrorism measures at the expense of deradicalisation initiative in North Galkayo. North Galkayo is the least resourced part of Puntland but bears the brunt of Al-shabaab operations against Puntland State administration. Many people have fled the city, and there is widespread feeling that the arrest of senior Al-shabaab leaders in North Galkayo is the tip of the iceberg of Al-shabaab cells in the divided city. “Al-shabaab ideology took root in our city more than 10 years ago. Fighting the terrorist group is a long war. Authorities should never be complacent” said a retired police officer in Galka’yo.
Jimcaale (not his real name), a north Galkayo resident, told Puntland Post that the policy to accuse traditional leaders of showing loyalty for Al-shabaab was akin to urging a person to grab an angry lion by the ears. “Al-shabaab targets governors, commanders and officials who have bodyguards. How can a traditional leader denounce Al-shabaab when the terrorist group retains cells in North Galkayo. Al-shabaab wields an illegal coercive power in North Galkayo” said Jimcaale.
Puntland State Martial Court sentenced Jerry along with several former senior members to death by a firing squad. Gujis had asked families of slain people for forgiveness. “I know I do not deserve forgiveness” he said.
© Puntland Post, 2021