Senior Shabaab leaders rumored killed in blast

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Two of the top leaders in the al Qaeda-linked Shabaab are rumored to have been killed in a massive blast in a town near Mogadishu late last night. The origin of the blast is unknown, but it is thought to have been caused by a missiles fired by naval warships or unmanned US Predator drones.

Somali officials claimed that Ahmad Godane Abu Zubayr, Shabaab’s spiritual leader, and Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, a top commander, were both killed in a massive blast in Afgoye, a town about 20 miles west of Mogadishu. The explosion took place at a “compound” known to be used by Shabaab, according to Sunatimes and Mareeg Online. Reuters claimed the blast took place at a “camp.” Afgoye is under Shabaab control.

The rumor of the deaths of Abu Zubayr and Aweys has not been confirmed. Shabaab has not announced their deaths.

Local residents in Afgoye claimed that a high-level meeting of senior Shabaab commanders was taking place in the town.

“I am sure there was a meeting going on in the base near the orphanage. Armoured cars and expensive 4x4s were buzzing around,” an Afgoye resident told Reuters.

At least two missiles are said to have detonated in Afgoye. The missiles are thought to have been launched by a warship off the coast of Somalia, or by unmanned US Predator or Reaper strike aircraft that are known to operate from bases in Ethiopia and Djibouti. US warships have launched cruise missile strikes against al Qaeda operatives in Somalia in the past.

Both Abu Zubayr and Aweys have been listed by the US as specially designated global terrorists for their links to al Qaeda. And both leaders have been previously targeted by US airstrikes. Abu Zubayr, who is also known as Ahmed Abdi Aw Mohamed, was rumored to have been wounded in a blast thought to have been caused by a US missile strike in Mogadishu in May 2009. The explosion killed 11 Shabaab fighters and three or four “foreign fighters.”

Shabaab is currently fighting on two fronts against several African nations. Along with Somali troops, African Union forces made up of Ugandan and Burundian soldiers are battling Shabaab in the capital of Mogadishu, while the Kenyan military is moving forces toward the port city of Kismayo, Shabaab’s de facto capital, and the town of Afmadow.

The Kenyan government invaded southern Somalia in mid-October and vowed to drive Shabaab from bases along the border. A Kenyan Army spokesman said that his country’s forces would take control of Kismayo and would remain in the south until Shabaab was no longer a threat. The Kenyan advance in the south appears to have stalled, however. One month after the invasion, Kenyan troops have failed to take Afmadow, and have advanced only as far as Ras Kamboni on their way to Kismayo.


Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • nchemuya says:

    Al shabaab your days are numbered. In the last 6 years when you had the opportunity you should have treated somalis well – instead public be-headings, unresonable restrictions, and used the beautiful religion of islam to hijack ships on the indian ocean. And as if that was not enough you went ahead and attacked kenya, a country that has provided refuge to more somalis than any other country has done to any other… it’s now time to pay for your evil sins!

  • jayc says:

    Two other websites which you may find helpful:
    English is a little choppy, but you can’t have everything.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Hi jayc, yes I read those daily, as well as, which is a good aggregator.

  • Devin Leonard says:

    This is great news, the US is taking down Shabaab leaders and militants like paper targets, and now with the Kenyans crawling up their butts it’s soon going to be all over for these scuzzbuckets.

  • jayc says:

    Somalia: Missiles Strike Rebels As More Support Kenya
    This is an excellent article, and it also addresses a possible upcoming multinational role in combatting the piracy problem in Somalia.
    From Bill’s references:
    •Reports say Hassan Dahir Aweys and Ahmed Godane had killed a US drone attack, Sunatimes
    Got a chuckle out of the byline.

  • Abu Samuel says:

    Mukhtar Abu Zubeyr (Ahmed Adbdi Godane) is widely known and recognised to to closer to al-Qaeda and having a more global jihadist agenda than other senior members of HSM such as Hassan Dahir Aweys and Sheikh Mukhtar Robow. This has caused serious arguments and conflict within HSM recently.
    It will be very interesting to see – if and when this information is confirmed – what the deaths of one or both Aweys and Godane has on the strategic outlook and ideological orientation of HSM.


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