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

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter 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.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid