Al-Shabab carried out a suicide attack on Makka Al-Mukarrama Hotel, at a joint ASWJ-AMISOM base on Monday afternoon. The attack was carried out by men dressed in government soldiers’ uniforms.
Conflicting reports are emerging about the exact number of attackers, but at least five men appear to have been involved in the attack. According to one of the reports, four men got off a Mark II car and shot the sentry at the target base. Two of the men entered the base, while two others covered them, spraying the building with bullets. The two that entered the building blew themselves up – killing 3 AMISOM and 3 ASWJ fighters, and wounding as many, according to TFG sources – while one of the back-up shooters was wounded and the other got back on the car and drove to safety – inside TFG territory. The wounded attacker was captured.
The interesting fact is that these men were real TFG soldiers trained recently at the Police School in Mogadishu, according to a TFG lawmaker. The official Al-Shabab spokesman has declared that there are many more such units available to them and they would be using them more in the future.
Al-Shabab had many infiltrators inside the TFG security and military, but they were mostly involved in information collection. The use of those valued assets in such attacks suggests that either Shabab has loads of infiltrators in the TFG that some of them are expendable or that Shabab has been forced by the recent military campaigns to use their more valued assets to divert resources from the military campaign that has cost Shabab about a kilometer by a kilometer area and has forced Bakara Market to be closed for the foreseeable future.
Shabab infiltrators now have the opportunity more than ever to join the security services of the TFG, thanks to the recent naming of an Islamist from President Sheikh Sharif’s faction, the ICU-ARS, to the top spy post at the NSSA (still known as the NSS by some).
The former leadership of the NSSA were secularists, and therefore less prone to recruiting Islamists into the organization. Of course, Shabab infiltrators will merge in with their environment, but it was always easier for them to infiltrate the ICU than it was to infiltrate the secular camp.
Sheikh Sharif’s faction had their own security organization within the Interior Ministry when it was led by Sheykh Abdulqadir of the ICU. Members of this organization had facilitated many operations inside TFG territory and were responsible for, among other things, the abduction of the Frenchmen from Sahafi Hotel, and one of the biggest defections to Shabab, with dozens of guns to and ammunition.
According to a source, when the interior ministry was taken away from Sharif’s faction, the ICU security organization came directly under the presidential staff. They deeply distrusted and claimed – rather ironically, and you will see lots of this in Somali politics – that the secular-led NSSA was stuffed with Shabab loyalists.
With the current trend of naming trusted friends to top security posts by Sharif, even if those friends may have ties to Al-Shabab, then this time the ranks of the NSSA will have increasing Shabab representation. And the attacks of May 30th may prove to be a recurring thing.