Somali terrorist group al-Shabab has strongly denied an accusation by the country’s National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) that it killed an agency employee abducted two months ago. Her parents contend the agency was responsible.
In a statement published Friday on pro-al-Shabab websites, a spokesman for the group said it knows nothing about the alleged killing of 24-year-old Ikran Tahlil Farah, who worked in NISA’s cybersecurity department.
She was abducted June 26 near her home in Mogadishu’s Abdulaziz district, which is close to the agency’s headquarters.
On Thursday, the security agency posted a brief statement on its website saying its investigators determined that the young woman’s kidnappers had handed her over to al-Shabab militants, who later killed her. The agency did not release details about when or where it believed Ikran was killed.
Al-Shabab acknowledged that it does target spy officers and claimed responsibility for those attacks, but said it had no involvement with Ikram’s disappearance and purported death.
The security agency issued its statement several hours after VOA’s Somali Service aired a radio program Thursday that focused on Ikran’s disappearance. Colonel Abdullahi Ali Maow, a former Somali intelligence official who was a guest on the program, speculated that the Islamist terrorist group was involved in Ikran’s fate.
'This is a smokescreen'
But the young woman’s mother, Qali Mohamud Guhad, said she thought her daughter might be alive and detained in a clandestine location.
“I do not believe that al-Shabab killed my daughter, because when she was kidnapped, she was with people she trusted in the agency,” said the mother, who was also a guest on the program. “I think she is being held somewhere, and this is a smokescreen.”
Former NISA Director-General Abdullahi Ali Sanbalolshe told VOA Somali in July that “some people” told him Ikran had records about a program that secretly sent Somali military recruits to Eritrea to train. Allegations surfaced in June that those recruits have been fighting and dying in Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict.
Ikran “also could possess other sensitive information for which she could have been targeted,” Sanbalolshe said, noting that he hired the young woman in 2017.
Opposition leaders have been pressuring Somalia’s spy agency and Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble for information about the disappearance of the intelligence agency employee.