Garowe Online (Garowe)

21 February 2014

Somalia: Presidential Palace Attack Exposes Weak Counter-Terrorism Policy

Mogadishu — Somalia's Al Qaeda linked Al Shabaab group launched a deadly assault on the heavily fortified presidential compound of Villa Somalia, killing senior government officials in the pre-planned attack, Garowe Online reports.

11 people including 9 attackers died in the deadly incident that captured the attention of the international community and the members of the public whose ambition of witnessing greater progress in various key areas including the security dashed.

Mohamed Hirsi Abdulle (Idha'ase) and Gen. Nur Shirbow, a secretary at Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed's office and the former Deputy Chief of National Intelligence and Security Agency respectively were among the victims of the coordinated terror attack in the presidential palace.

According to witnesses, a suicide bomber in a vehicle packed full of explosives targeted the compound gate, followed by a gun battle after Al Shabaab gunmen in military uniform at the time of bombing wadded through the plumes of black smoke over the scene of the attack.

The bold challenge was aimed at killing high-ranking government officials including President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud who Friday prayers arrive at the mosque under tight security but the president survived the pre-planned heinous attack.

Reacting to the frailty of security apparatus and his administration weak counter-terrorism policy, President Mohamud told a news conference at Mogadishu Presidential Compound that he warns media representatives against exaggeration.

"I would remind everyone that all our misguided enemies will achieve short-lived media headlines," said Mohamud in pursuit of stable Mogadishu.

Shortly before President Mohamud held the press conference, National Security Minister and presidential aide, Abdikarin Hussein Gulled denied reports of death and said on Mogadishu-based radio station that Al Shabaab aims to spread its rampage through the media.

Despite tight security near the presidential palace, Al Shabaab operations spokesman Abdiasis Abu Muscab claimed credit for attack, unveiling that special Al Shabaab militants forced their way into Villa Somalia.

"Our special forces today attacked the so-called Presidential palace and they killed senior government officials," noted Al Shabaab official.

Federal Govt ill-equipped to deter scale of challenges ahead

The terror attack came a day after the commissioner of Mogadishu's Huriwaa district Omar Abdulle Jacfan called on Somalia Federal Government to dislodge Al Shabaab fighters from the district amidst rising concern over the volatile security situation in Mogadishu.

At least three attacks on African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Somali government military bases in Huriwaa district were so far confirmed to Garowe Online News Agency. Late on Wednesday night, residents woke up to the sounds of heavy gunfire which broke out when suspected Al Shabaab militants ambushed intelligence and military bases simultaneously.

As a result of looming threats of instability, the US state department issued a travel warning to Americans going out on trip to Somalia on 7th of February 2013. "Terrorist operatives and armed groups in Somalia have demonstrated their intent to attack Somali authorities, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and other non-military target," the statement from the US government revealed.

Meanwhile, the US director of national intelligence James clapper disclosed that persistent political infighting, weak leadership from President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, ill-equipped government institutions and pervasive technical shortfalls threatened the credibility and the effectiveness of federal government of Somalia.

Corruption deals blow to offensives against Al Shabaab

The country's hightest money authority is recovering from years of corruption allegations as foreign diplomats expressed displeasure about the large scale theft of government funds.

According to emerging reports of corruption woes, President Hassan Shiekh Mohamud had a falling out with his first Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon who was ousted in parliamentary no-confidence votei n December 2013. The political infighting commenced after Yusuf Abrar, former Central Bank governor resigned in a letter dated October 30 2013 and sent from Dubai to President Mohamud.

"From the moment I was appointed, I have continuously been asked to sanction deals and violate my fiduciary responsibility to the Somali people as head of the nation's monetary authority," Abrar said in her resignation letter.

Independent sources in Mogadishu tell GO that meager financial resources dealt blow to the military offensives against Al Shabaab fighters. Somali National Army (SNA) Commander-In-Chief Gen. Dahir Khalif Elmi (Indho Qarsho) declared at media briefings in Mogadishu on February 4 the sacking of 700 soldiers from the army, citing incompetence and ineffectiveness in the job.

Disabled army veterans who have been receiving monthly support services staged a protest in front of Villa Somalia Presidential compound. They said Somalia government halted their regular salary and food and no government official public responded to their demands.

The weak counter-terrorism policy of President Mohamud's government Friday exposed security lapse and at the same time demonstrated the magnitude of attacks on the highly fortified zones such as the presidential compound and the other key structures by Al Shabaab.

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