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Somali News

Somaliland: An American Fugitive in Terror Watch List Seeks Military Cooperation with Eritrea

Wednesday 26 January 2011 SMC

He might not be allowed to enter the United States, and he might be on the run, but Suleman Essa Ahmed (Hagal Tosiye), a Somali-American in terror watch list, from Columbus, Ohio, has well-laid out plans. Like any other fugitive, although evading justice is a matter of paramount importance for him, turning his destructive campaign of terror against Somaliland into a lethal power of weaponry is equally important to him. And be it Eritrea or Al-Shabab that provides his group military trainings and logistics support, Mr. Ahmed vows to continue attacking Somaliland security forces and assassinating officials.

Ever since Mr. Ahmed, a former Puntland presidential candidate, took the throne to wage a campaign of terror against Somaliland security forces in October 2009, when the so-called PSS (or SSC)/NSUM group vowed to attack peaceful Somaliland, his group’s threat materialized right before our eyes. In fact, it was none other than Mr. Ahmed’s right-hand man, Garaad (a tribal chief) Jama Garad Ali from Sool region, one of the founders of the PSS/NSUM violent group, now touring the U.S. freely, who threatened to spur violence against Somaliland if it doesn’t abandon the PSS region. “We must fight against Somaliland by any means necessary”, he told the BBC. No sooner did the PSS/NSUM group reached Somaliland soil than a wave of remote controlled bomb attacks began sending security forces flying over rooftops, ensued by assassinations against security officers—something unknown and unheard of before in Somaliland. The first bomb attack was against a police station in Las Annod city, the provincial capital of Sool region, as the NSUM itself admitted in an audio clip. The second one, a remote controlled bomb attack claimed Col. Osman Yusuf’s life, the commander of Somaliland’s 12th infantry division. Sadly, the PSS/NSUM was also responsible for the murder of two highly decorated Somaliland army officers: Col. Mohamed Husain Roble and Col. Adan Ruush. In 2010, both officers were butchered to death when the PSS/NSUM ambushed their vehicle travelling near the WidhWidh village. (See Col. Roble and his family’s pictures.) Because of the sophistication of the horrendous bombing attacks, little doubt remained that both Al-Shabab and Eritrea provided military trainings and explosive devices to Mr. Ahmed’s group.

In addition to Eritrea’s involvement, in May 2010, I wrote an article entitled, “Somaliland: Canadian, American Warlords, Al-Shabab Vow to Disrupt Elections”. In it, I warned against the growing relationship between the PSS/NSUM, Al-Shabab, and Eritrea. I also pointed out the likelihood of Eritrea using the newly built dusty airstrip in the border town of Buhodle which falls both inside Somaliland and Ethiopia’s borders, the last stronghold for the Al-Shabab-affiliated belligerent PSS/NSUM group. In my said article, I wrote, “…soon Eritrea could send shipments of weapons to attack Somaliland forces to start a new war to unify Somalia as the NSUM and Al-Shabab demand.” Today, we may witness the outcome of that prediction. After Mr. Ahmed learned that he was no longer welcomed in the United States, even though he refuted such claims during his interview with the BBC two months ago, he decided to explore his last option: a trip to Eritrea. While wild rumors claim that he is hiding in the Middle East, in fact, there is something else hardly discussed. When Mr. Ahmed was in Kenya or Uganda, he approached the Eritrean officials. However, what he discussed with them was unknown, but few days later he was asked if he forged a relationship with Eritrea; he responded, “No comment”.
Now, his exact location is of course unknown, but reliable sources from Dubai have confirmed me that after Mr. Ahmed learned that he was barred entering the U.S., he contemplated, for a while, whether to visit Eritrea in order to get arms for his militia, or seek a closer cooperation with Al-Shabab. But finally, Mr. Ahmed chose the former, and he is either in Eritrea, or on his way to that country.

Clearly, Eritrea could supply weapons and logistics to Mr. Ahmed’s violent group in more than one way. For one thing, since according the U.N., Eritrea is a major weapons supplier to Al-Shabab, the Asmara regime could also supply weapons to Mr. Ahmed’s fighters through Al-Shabab. For another, Eritrea’s planes loaded with weapons could land on Buhodle’s dusty airstrip, if Somaliland doesn’t secure the town very soon. Doubtless, Eritrea has the motive and the opportunity to destabilize Somaliland; after all, Eritrea, just like Al-Shabab and the PSS rebel group, wants to see united Somalia.
Meanwhile, Somaliland, perhaps, sensing the danger brewing in Buhodle town and its surroundings, recently reached out some of the peace-loving communities in that area. And a number of local clans vowed to continue pacifying the region and rejected the PSS/NSUM violent campaign against Somaliland security forces. For instance, in WidhWidh village and its surroundings the locals agreed to disarm themselves and ban the PSS/NSUM group using the village as a launch pad to attack Somaliland security forces. Somaliland, on its part, agreed to support local developments, such as drilling water wells and rebuilding schools. The government also removed its security forces from WidhWidh village after the local clans agreed to end violence. Then, the security forces moved to encircle Buhodle town, the last hide out for the PSS/NSUM violent, anti-peace and anti-development, group to prevent the militia further taking advantage of two local clans who recently clashed over grazing land to incite a deadly clan wars.

Remember, the second leader of the PSS/NUSM group, Col. Ali Sabarey, a Somali-Canadian, from Toronto, promised to incite clan wars in the past. In an interview with a local Somali radio, Col. Ali Sabarey stated, “We encourage the wider Darod clans of Somalia to fight against Somaliland.” Militarily, the PSS/NUSM remains ineffective. It has lost more control since its creation and brought death and destruction to the region. Much of the militia is in total disarray, as admitted by the group itself.  It is no mach for the sheer power of Somaliland’s armed forces, as one of the warlords in the PSS/NSUM group details. Worse still, it does not have the locals’ support. But its ability to ignite an inferno between local clans is a real threat that cannot be underestimated. And as soon as Somaliland government realized the looming disaster in Buhodle area, the government deployed and stationed the security forces between the two warring clan militias. Such a move made possible for the elders to reach a peaceful solution in a short period. (By the way, Col. Sabarey encountered a rude awakening when he learned that he was no longer welcomed in Canada.)

In short, whether Mr. Ahmed’s visit to Eritrea could revive his violent militia is debatable; however, one thing is clear: his devotion to continue shedding more bloodshed in peaceful Somaliland.

Also, Mr. Ahmed and Col. Sabarey are fully aware that they brought death and destruction to Sool region, and they are responsible for the murder of Somaliland officers, namely Col. Osman Yusuf, Col. Mohamed Husain Rooble, and Col. Adan Ruush. Therefore, no civilized nation in the world that would harbor Mr. Ahmed and Col. Sabarey; sooner or later, they will face justice.

But while Mr. Ahmed tours overseas to collect weapons and funding for the war efforts, not donations to rebuild schools and hospitals, Somaliland reaches out the disgruntled community in Buhodle and its surroundings. Also, the government promises to build more projects in the region and succeeds to disarm the warring local clans. And despite the PSS/NSUM’s campaign of terror and destruction, Somaliland government repeatedly invites the group to disarm and bring its grievances to the table, but just like Al-Shabab, the PSS/NSUM group refuses to lay down its weapons.

Dalmar Kaahin

Somaliweyn Media Center (SMC)

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