President Hassan Sheikh vows ‘all-out war’ against Al-Shabaab following deadly 30-hour siege

24.8.2022: Mogadishu, Somalia

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud pledged “an all-out war” against Al-Shabab in his first statement since the militants besieged Hayat Hotel in the Somali capital, Mogadishu for over 30-hours.

The attack which began Friday evening was the first of its nature or status since the horrendous Al-Shabab car-bomb attack in December of 2019 in which 81 people were killed.

The militants would eventually kill 21 civilians and wound 117 others with 15 in critical condition according to the Somali Ministry of Health. Conversely, the Al-Shabab group claimed to have killed 63 individuals during the attack.

Speaking to the media, Chief of the Somali Police Force, General Hijaar said that the security operation in the hotel ended midnight local time Sunday. He further elucidated that 106 people were rescued from the hotel. However, the police chief refused to answer questions regarding the details and what happened to the assailants.

National Security Council Meeting

The President held an emergency meeting with Somalia’s National Security Council at Villa Somalia yesterday afternoon which was attended by the Prime Minister, Hamza Abdi Barre, National Security Advisor Hussein Sheikh Ali and senior cabinet ministers including Interior Minister Ahmed Fiqi and Foreign Minister Abshir Omar Jama as well as defence chiefs.

“We are determined to eradicate terrorism… until we liberate all areas and regions that they exert power. This is a priority for our government and the preparation and implementation of that plan is ongoing,” said President Hassan Sheikh in a statement released by Villa Somalia without elaborating.

“I know that the Somali people are fed up with the endless condolences and mourning, I know that you lose respectable people in every attack carried out by the terrorists,”

“So I call upon you to be prepared for an all-out war against the ruthless militants who are threat to our peace,” elucidated Mohamud.

Televised Speech

Following a series of meetings and statements, President Mohamud would directly speak to the Somali people in a televised speech.

“Somalia will defeat the enemy that is oppressing its country, people and religion”

“Our government, army and people will never surrender until we have a Somalia that is free from Al-Shabab,” said the President.

Many have criticised the President and his government of spending far too much time fighting within itself rather than focusing on unity and on fighting Al-Shabab.

Many have pointed to his his election campaign in which President Hassan Sheikh conveyed to the Somali public that he will be leading a peace train comprised of various differing political factions within Somalia to form an inclusive government. Instead, we have a government which seems to be attempting to attack any individual that had any form of relations with former President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo.

Security Failures

Despite government silence on the operational details, it is reported that various security agencies participated in the operation simultaneously without much central coordination.

It seems as though the basic operational procedure was not followed:

  • The pre-attack investigations that would’ve identified possible attackers and locations.
  • Deployment of counterterrorism units to the hotel such as Haramcad immediately.
  • Post-attack operations including bomb disposal, CCTV as well as witnesses.

It is reported that NISA officers were present as well as Alpha Group, Gashaan, Somali Police and Haramcad.

It is further reported that Alpha Group was initially sent in but failed to neutralise the militants despite Haramcad being the newly improved and trained special police commandos prepared for such operations.

In fact, it is reported that NISA Chief Mahad Salad delayed the deployment of Haramcad Police Commandos for nearly 2.5 hours despite Haramcad coming under the Somali Police Chief, General Hijaar. Such exertion of power is tantamount to the influence Mahad Salad has inside Villa Somalia much like his predecessor, Fahad Yaasin.

The question is, why was NISA attempting to lead a security operation that was designated for Haramcad and other qualified and trained forces?

It is clear NISA failed to identify the militants, failed to identify the location, failed to gather intelligence from residents and further failed to even identify the attackers.

Will Mahad Salaad be removed from his role as a consequence of his failures?

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