Senior Shabaab leader survived blast


Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys.

On Nov. 14, Somali officials floated the rumor that Ahmad Godane Abu Zubayr, Shabaab’s spiritual leader, and Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, a top commander, were killed in a blast (thought to been caused by a US airstrike) in Afgoye, a town about 20 miles west of Mogadishu. Shabaab never released a statement announcing their deaths, nor was there any official confirmation from US or Somali officials that either Abu Zubayr and Aweys had been killed.

Yesterday, Radio Furqan, a media arm of Shabaab, announced that several top leaders of the terror group, including Aweys and Sheikh Ali Dhere (it is unclear if they are referring to the senior Shabaab cleric or to Sheikh Ali Mohammed Rage, who is also is known by the same name), were present at a high-level meeting in Baidoa. The following translation of the Radio Furqan statement was provided to The Long War Journal:

A big meeting attended by Al Shabaab Mujahideen Movement leaders and Somali clerics from the Islamic governorates is taking place in Baidoa city. The meeting, which has entered its second day, is discussing issues including fighting off the invasion of Somalia by the neighboring countries and galvanizing the public against the invasion.

Among Al Shabaab Mujahideen Movement leaders attending the meeting are Sheikh Hasan Dahir Aweys and Sheikh Ali Dhere. They delivered speeches well-received by the meeting participants.

Given that Shabaab hasn’t released a statement announcing Abu Zubayr and Aweys’ deaths, and Aweys has shown up in public (at least according to Shabaab), it is pretty safe to assume they were not killed in the strike. Shabaab would also have a difficult time keeping the deaths of Abu Zubayr and Aweys under wraps for too long.

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

Are you a dedicated reader of FDD's Long War Journal? Has our research benefitted you or your team over the years? Support our independent reporting and analysis today by considering a one-time or monthly donation. Thanks for reading! You can make a tax-deductible donation here.

Tags: ,


Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram