News / Africa

Hotel Suicide Bomber Linked to al-Shabab's Senior Leader

Multimedia

Audio

One of the suicide bombers who took part in Tuesday's deadly attack against Somali lawmakers in a Mogadishu hotel has been identified as a young man recruited by an al-Shabab senior leader, who is believed to be playing a major role in transforming the extremist group into a proxy for al-Qaida.

Michael Leiter is head of the National Counterterrorism Center. He spoke with VOA Senior News Analyst Gary Thomas about al-Shabab and the tragedy in Somalia.

VOA sources in Somalia have identified one of the two suicide bombers in Tuesday's attack as 16-year-old Aden Hussein, who had been working as a body guard for senior al-Shabab leader Muktar Robow, also known as Abu Mansur.

Hussein's identity was confirmed through photographs taken of the attackers in the aftermath of the bombings at Muna Hotel, which killed more than 30 people, including several Somali members of parliament.

Who is he?

The second suicide bomber has not yet been identified.  But the sources say Aden Hussein was from the southwestern town of Baidoa in Somalia's Bay region, an al-Shabab stronghold.  Muktar Robow is from Bay and members of his Rahanweyn clan are well-represented in the Baidoa area.

There is speculation that Robow may have hand-picked Hussein and other boys to groom them for suicide missions.  Another young suicide bomber, who took part in the February 2009 attack on Burundian peacekeepers in Mogadishu, is also said to have worked as a body guard for Muktar Robow.

Robow spent several months in Afghanistan in 2000 training with the Taliban and al-Qaida and emerged as a radical Islamist leader in Somalia during the brief rule of the Islamic Courts Union in 2006.

After its collapse following Ethiopia's military intervention in Somalia, Robow helped reconstitute al-Shabab and became its spokesman and eventually the group's deputy commander.  

In 2007, Robow portrayed al-Shabab as an Islamist nationalist movement and denied the group had any links to al-Qaida.  But in January, he openly declared the group's allegiance to the terrorist group and offered to send fighters to Yemen to help al-Qaida there in its fight against government forces.  

Intelligence analysis


U.S. intelligence officials believe Robow has been instrumental in attracting foreign, al-Qaida-trained fighters to Somalia in recent years.   Hundreds of fighters from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Sudan, Chechnya, among others, have joined al-Shabab ranks.  Many brought with them the know-how and experience of conducting roadside bombings and suicide attacks.

Ugandan and Burundian troops working as peacekeepers in an African Union mission in Somalia, known as AMISOM, have been al-Shabab's main target.  In July, the extremist group claimed responsibility for double suicide bombings in Kampala as punishment for Uganda's participation in AMISOM.   

Many observers say al-Shabab is trying to pressure an AMISOM withdrawal because the peacekeeping force is the only obstacle in the way of al-Shabab taking over the country.

The attack on Muna Hotel demonstrated that al-Shabab's reach is growing in the capital.  Somali parliament member Mohamed Amin Osman says many of the 550 lawmakers do not feel safe in Somalia and have left or are leaving the country.

"The United Nations never planned any protection of the Somali MPs," AMISOM never planned any protection of Somali MPs.  They protect only three people - the speaker, the president and the prime minister.  That is it.  Even ministers do not have any protection.  And 95 percent of the town is under the control of al-Shabab.  So, this is the problem."

The African Union considers the Somalia peacekeeping mission critical to stabilizing the country.  But critics of AMISOM say the presence of foreign troops in Somalia is allowing al-Shabab to pose as nationalists and gives extremists an excuse to carry out deadly attacks.  



You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More