The TFG and AMISOM were caught by surprise with the Shabab retreat from their front line positions from 11:00 to 02:00 Saturday morning. It took the TFG until mid-day to send some of their units to San’a in “North” Mogadishu where they encountered an ambush by the Shabab, sending them back to their positions.
AMISOM, on the other hand, declared that they would be approaching the Shabab retreat with caution (wise move when you don’t know what your enemy is planning) and only moved few of their units to Shabab-vacated positions in the Stadium and the Aymiska near the Pasta Factory.
No Government troops have been seen in Kaaraan, Yaqshiid (except the district HQ) and Heliwaa districts, where Shabab fighters not wearing their green combat fatigues and in civilian clothing are seen patrolling the streets. These Shabab fighters seem not to be dug-in and appear to be based in safe houses as in 2007, making it harder for the TFG to find them using their conventional means. With many Shabab infiltrators in the TFG security, the Shabab seem not to be worried about their safe houses being raided.
Despite the TFG’s failure to neither predict nor appropriately respond to the latest developments, the TFG president claimed a major victory, as is his and his administration’s nature. It is this delusional nature of the TFG that makes them more incompetent than they would otherwise have been.
I do not run an intelligence agency and yet I had a picture of what was going to happen, thanks to a number of reliable sources and facts on the ground. With their now Islamist-run NSSA (or NSA, as was their old name), the TFG should have been able to at least be prepared for a Shabab retreat and storm their safe houses immediately after, even if they had not known exactly when that would happen. Apparently, the TFG were surprised that the Shabab would ever retreat in the face of their khat-chewing and half-sober soldiers. In the TFG’s defence, the Shabab were more pressured by AMISOM than the TFG and since every front line position was now manned by AMISOM or joint AMISOM-TFG soldiers, the Shabab could no longer advance in the face of a numerically superior and better armed enemy.
I also noticed the fact that the Shabab had moved their radio stations and I was told about their plans to move their TV station (which they took from Hizbul Islam, who had taken it from GBC). This was in June when the Shabab seemed to be holding Mogadishu well, but I knew that the Shabab would not move their radio stations if there was no good reason. That is when I made this blog post, saying that the Shabab appeared to be leaving their massed positions: https://insidetheinsurgency.wordpress.com/2011/06/07/shabab-losing-grip-of-mogadishu-or-are-they/
I later looked for a very reliable mid-level security source in the Shabab who told me that he was not in the city. I knew his absence from the city must have something to do with what appeared to be the Shabab’s plan to me. Two other Shabab sources also told me that they were away. I met one in Elasha who told me that he had orders to demolish a strategic building in an area that was still in Shabab hands (the building is still standing – apparently they changed their plan).
Another indication of an inevitable Shabab retreat from the city was that the Shabab had removed their high-ranking leaders and some of their foreign fighters from the city. There were less and less press conferences being held in Mogadishu, except for impromptu appearances by their spokesman after a good fighting day, showing off dead AMISOM soldiers and looted weapons.
After concluding that there was a great probability that the Shabab would retreat from their front line positions in Mogadishu, I asked some of my sources to tell me whether there was a plan to retreat from Mogadishu. Some refused to tell me, but I got a hint that there indeed was such a plan from the way they refused. Two sources told me of the plan but they did not know exactly when (one did call me when the withdrawal was taking place but I missed his call).
I am kind of surprised that the TFG with its so many “spies” in the Shabab (the Shabab have their own men posing as spies to the TFG and feeding them garbage) have failed to see what was clearly written all over the Shabab’s actions for the past two months. This was a victory for the Shabab security as they have managed to hide their plans from the TFG until the last minute.
jerid lawil on Westgate Example of Shabab Tac… praisedone on Westgate Example of Shabab Tac… PKZM on Westgate Example of Shabab Tac… praisedone on Westgate Example of Shabab Tac… PKZM on Westgate Example of Shabab Tac…