Somalia’s Security Minister Injured as Al-Shabab attack Villa Rays Hotel – Only Yards from Villa Somalia

28.11.2022: Mogadishu, Somalia

Al-Shabab has conducted another heinous and cowardly attack in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu as the Somali Police Spokesman, Saadiq Doodishe announces that the attack has been curtailed after a day of fighting at Villa Rays Hotel – a popular with lawmakers and other senior government officials.

In its most daring attack yet, Al-Shabab infiltrated a key compound which was only few yards away from the Somali Presidential Palace. Many are asking themselves how Al-Shabab even managed to enter and pass multiple checkpoints within a heavily secure area within proximity of major government institutions including the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA).

What We Know So Far

Somali Police Force (SPF) spokesman outlined events that unfolded in the hotel. According to Doodishe, Al-Shabab attacked using six fighters wearing military gear with one being a suicide bomber that blew up the entrance and enabled access for the rest of the cell. The ensuing attack killed eight civilians and one government soldier. At least 60 others were rescued from the hotel during the attack.

Somalia’s Elite security forces including Alpha Group battled the militants for 21 hours – from Sunday evening to Monday afternoon.

There have been reports that a senior meeting was taking place at the hotel prior to the attack that included some government ministers, however this has not been confirmed by the Federal Government.

Nevertheless, there has been confirmation that government ministers were the target as reports emerging from Mogadishu indicate Security Minister, Mohamed Ahmed Doodishe as well as Deputy Defence Minister, Abdifatah Kasim suffered injuries while State Minister for Environment, Adam Aw Hirsi told reporters he narrowly escaped the attack.

Speakers of Parliament Postpone Joint Sitting

The dire security situation within the Villa Somalia and Villa Hargaysa compounds has resulted in Parliament being postponed for the first time this year due to on-going Al-Shabab attack only a few yards away from the Parliamentary building.

The postponed Parliamentary session agenda included the first reading of the national budget for the fiscal year 2023.

The Speaker of the House of the People, Sheikh Adan Mohamed Nur Madobe, and the Upper House Speaker, Abdi Hashi Abdullahi, did not officially explain the reason for the postponement, but it is likely due to the siege at the Villa Rays hotel, which is less than 1.5 kilometres from where the joint session would be held.

No Accountability

Yet again, it seems as though the basic operational procedure were 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.

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 continued failures?

Many are raising the question whether it was the same Al-Shabab cell that attacked Hayat Hotel also attacked Villa Rays Hotel. The attacks were very similar in nature and in close proximity both geographically and timing:

  • Six attackers with one attacker being a suicide bomber to enable access
  • Militants entrench themselves within the compound and take individuals hostage
  • Militants were wearing military uniform which enabled access

Serious questions arise regarding this attack:

  1. How did the militants pass multiple checkpoints to access this hotel?

This hotel is located only a few yards from the Presidential Palace and the National Intelligence and Security Agency. If NISA was not even aware of the attack prior to the siege, then NISA Chief Mahad has failed miserably. If NISA was aware and did not nothing to curtail the attack before the siege, then equally NISA Chief Mahad has also failed miserably in this regard.

2. Is this attack directly related to Hayat Hotel?

The attack was very identical to the Hayat Hotel in nature and execution. It seems as though it is the same cell conducting a similar attack using the same mole within the Somali Federal Government. It is literally impossible for Al-Shabab to conduct an attack without insider information and help!

There have been numerous attacks in Mogadishu over the past few months ranging from grenade throws to sieges. The most serious of these attacks include the attempted attack on the Federal Ministry of Education as well as Hayat Hotel.

It is clear that there is an active cell in Mogadishu which was probably dormant for years before receiving the greenlight from Al-Shabab leaders in Jilib.

NISA failed to identity or detained this cell or any other cell enabling numerous attacks. If NISA does not capture this cell soon, I advise Somalis in the capital to brace themselves for more attacks of this magnitude.

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