Somalia: Intelligence Services Mimicry


New Somalia national intelligence & Security agency officesBy: Liban Ahmad

Somalilandsun – Intelligence services are a brisk business in Somalia. Powerful clans, who had their hopes to use the state for the benefit of their clansmen dashed, have created Intelligence Agencies. All so-called intelligence agencies are modeled on the former Somali military regime’s domestic intelligence service whose main task was to protect the revolutionary government against counter-revolutionaries.

In 2013 president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud inaugurated a new premises for Somali National Intelligence & Security Agency, and the day fell on the 41st anniversary of the agency. Formerly known as National Security Service ( Ciidanka Nabadsugidda Soomaaliyeed), it was a key institution in the former military regime’s oppressive institutions remembered for collective punishment, arbitrary arrests and extrajudicial killing.

The institutional continuity of the agency is fictitious. Only Somalia’s new government, formed on 4 November 2012, has misled people into thinking that there is no discontinuity in the history of the agency after the overthrow of the military regime and the subsequent state collapse in 1991.

Defunct institutions created by the military regime— Ciidanka Guulwadayaasha (Victory Pioneers) and Xisbiga Hantiwadaagga Kacaanka Soomaaliyeed ( Somali Revolutionary Socialist Party ) have not been revived.

Apart from the Mogadishu-based intelligence agency there are two intelligence agencies created in Somaliland and Puntland. Recently Somaliland president, Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo, “signed into law the National Intelligence Bill”. Somaliland intelligence operatives “can operate in and outside Somaliland”, the new law stipulates.

In Puntland Dr Sheikh Ahmed Haji Abdirahmanan intelligence service was formed without consultation with Puntland stakeholders in 2002. Formerly known as Puntland Intelligence Service (PIS), it was based in Bosaso city until President Abdirahman Farole of Puntland reorganised the agency and integrated it with security forces of Puntland after PIS failed to stem the tide of assassinations against Puntland government officials, judges and traditional leaders. However, old habits of PIS die hard. Puntland security forces captured and interviewed Al Shabaab operatives who had role in the assassination of Dr Sheikh Ahmed Haji Abdirahman. The carefully edited interviews were handed over to an independent, investigative committee from of the late Ahmed Haji Abidrahaman’s clan.

One of the arrested Al Shabaab operatives interviewed by Puntland security forces is Mohamed Mohamud Mohamed (his nom de guerre is Abu Burayda). He was born in Godale hamlet near Taleh district. The second man is 17 year old Ahmed Mohamed Ali Osman born in Garowe. He identified himself as belonging to Kaskiqabe clan but the Mohamed only mentioned his birth place, enough to give a hint about his clan. To prevent people from concluding that Ahmed belongs to the same clan as Puntland president’s, interviewers instructed him to mention the name of his clan.

Al Shabaab operatives who are believed to have planned and carried out assassinations belong to different clans but Puntland administration manipulated the interview in a futile bid to cement clan cohesion to give ‘misguided clansmen’ a chance to repent.

The two men interviewed by Puntland security forces talked about how they were recruited and roles they played in Al Shabaab’s amniyaat (intelligence agency ) Puntland cell. The assassin fled the scene, they said.

Not all Somali clans have intelligence agencies but rival clans with no intelligence agency may create an intelligence agency to protect their clansmen and clanswomen against hostile clan spies.

Mimicking Somalia dreaded ex-intelligence service is symptomatic of major Somali clans’ pathological desire to usurp the state power and make history repeat itself for Somalis who need an omnipotent analyst and couch with a capacity of at least one million people.

Liban Ahmad

Interviews released into the public domain by an independent Investigation Committee on the assassination of Dr Sheikh Ahmed Haji Abdirahman