Hizbul Islam leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys.
A senior Islamist leader and ally of al Qaeda has called for additional suicide attacks against African Union peacekeepers operating in Mogadishu.
Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, the leader of Hizbul Islam, or the Party of Islam, called for more suicide attacks during a sermon in the town of Elashabiyah, just outside Mogadishu.
“I also call upon the people to carry out more attacks against the African forces; they came to Somalia to assist our enemy, kill them … in any way possible and use suicide attacks to kill them,” Aweys told the crowd, according to a report in the Pretoria News.
Awey’s remarks occurred just days after Shabaab suicide bombers penetrated security at an African Union base in Mogadishu and killed 21 people, including the deputy African Union commander and 16 other peacekeepers. The suicide bombers used United Nations vehicles to pass through the checkpoint and enter the compound.
In the fall of 2006, Aweys and Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, the current president of Somalia, started using suicide bombers against the Transitional Federal Government and Ethiopian troops operating in the country. Aweys and Sharif, the co-leaders of the Islamic Courts, took control of southern Somalia but were ousted during an Ethiopian offensive in late 2006.
Shabaab and its predecessor organization, the Islamic Courts, have conducted 18 suicide attacks since September 2006, when the first suicide attack was recorded in Somalia [see list below]. Over the past 12 months, Shabaab has conducted two effective suicide attacks: the June 18 strike outside a hotel in Beletwein that killed the security minister, a former ambassador, and 33 others; and the Oct. 29, 2008, strikes against government installations and a UN headquarters in the semi-autonomous regions of Somaliland and Puntland that resulted in the deaths of 28 Somalis.
Aweys has sought to merge Hizbul Islam with Shabaab. Hizbul Islam was created in January of this year with the merger of four separate Islamic groups: Aweys’ Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia-Eritrea; Mu’askar Ras Kamboni (the Ras Kamboni Brigade); Jabhatul Islamiya (the Islamic Front); and Anole. Hizbul Islam was formerly led by Sheik Omar Iman Abu Bakar but was ousted by Aweys earlier this year for being too moderate.
Aweys is known to have trained in al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan during the 1990s. In November 2001, Aweys was identified by the US Department of State as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. He is also thought to have participated in the infamous “Black Hawk Down” incident in Mogadishu in 1993, when Somali fighters ambushed a US raiding party, resulting in a two-day-long battle that killed 18 US soldiers and several hundred Somalis.
Suicide attacks in Somalia since September 2006:
Sept. 17, 2009: Shabaab suicide bombers penetrated security at an African Union base in Mogadishu and killed 21 people, including the deputy African Union commander and 16 other peacekeepers.
May 24, 2009: A Shabaab suicide bomber killed six policemen and a civilian in an attack on a police station in Mogadishu.
Feb. 22, 2009: Shabaab claimed to have conducted a dual suicide attack on Burundi troops in Mogadishu; the African Union claimed the attack was a mortar strike.
Oct. 29, 2008: Five suicide bombers struck four compounds in the semi-autonomous regions of Somaliland and Puntland, killing 28 and wounding scores. Three suicide car bombers struck the presidential palace, the UN Development Program compound, and the Ethiopian Consulate in the city of Hargeisa in Somaliland. Two bombers targeted an intelligence facility in the city of Bosasso in Puntland.
April 8, 2008: A Shabaab suicide bomber rammed a car into the gate of the complex that housed peacekeepers from Burundi; one soldier was killed.
Oct. 11, 2007: A suicide bomber killed three Ethiopian soldiers near a base in Baidoa where the Prime Minister was visiting.
June 4, 2007: A suicide car bomber attacked the Somali Prime Minister’s home; seven were killed. Another suicide car bomb was detonated near an Ethiopian Army base.
April 25, 2007: A suicide bomber killed 11 during an attack on a hotel south of Mogadishu.
April 20, 2007: A suicide car bomber attacked an Ethiopian army base in the capital.
Nov. 30, 2006: A suicide bomber killed eight in an attack in Baidoa.
Sept. 18, 2006: In the first recorded suicide attack in Somalia, one or two suicide bombers attacked the convoy of the president of the Transitional Federal Government as he was heading to speak to parliament in Baidoa; six Somalis were killed.