Major Emmanuel Chirchir, the official spokesman for the Kenyan Defense Forces, made two remarkable claims about Shabaab’s spokesman, Sheikh Ali Dhere. On his Twitter account, Chirchir first claimed the KDF confirmed that Dhere had fled Somalia for Yemen along with 300 fighters:
#Al-ShabaabSpokesman. Report have confirmed that Ali Dhere has crossed over to Yemen with over 300 fighters from Somalia.
Then, Chirchir tweeted that Dhere denounced Shabaab emir Ahmed Abdi Godane (also known as Sheikh Mukhtar Abu Zubayr), presumably while he ran for the exits:
#Al-ShabaabSpokesperson ALI DHERE calls Godane a disgrace to Al Shabaa and wishes him death.
The problem is that while Chirchir was claiming that Dhere had left Somalia and trashed his boss, Dhere was actually in Mogadishu holding a press conference claiming credit on behalf of Shabaab for today’s bombing at Somalia’s national theater that killed 10 people, including two senior athletic officials. The interview (in Somali) was published today by SomaliMemo.
Somalia is awash with false reports of phantom military operations such as daily drone strikes, and other fictions such as Shabaab defections and denouncements by senior leaders. Last week’s false interview with Sheikh Abu Mansur Robow was just the latest example. Navigating the truth about what is happening in Somalia is difficult, particularly when official spokesmen make obviously false statements which are then treated as the truth.
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