Shabaab executes three alleged ‘spies’

Just one day after executing a deadly suicide assault on a popular hotel in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, Shabaab announced that its religious courts executed “three spies.” One of the alleged spies was accused of working for the CIA to direct drone strikes on Shabaab, better known as al Qaeda’s branch in East Africa.

Radio al Furqan, a Shabaab radio station and media outlet, reported that the three spies were killed in the town of Yaaq Barawe in the Bay Region of southern Somalia. The three were identified as local residents who were “found guilty” of aiding the CIA, Jubaland intelligence services, as well as Somali intelligence services, respectively. Another Shabaab outlet said that the individual who had purportedly worked for the CIA had been doing so for two months before being caught.

The Amniyat, Shabaab’s intelligence and security service, routinely executes alleged spies in an effort to protect its leaders from being targeted by the US, which has waged a covert war in Somalia for a decade. Last June, the group reported that it beheaded a fighter within its ranks who allegedly gave information to the CIA that led to the death of its founder, Mukhtar Abu Zubayr, in a drone strike in Sept. 2014. Another fighter was reportedly beheaded for helping the CIA to kill Adnan Garaar, the mastermind of the Westgate Mall attack in Kenya, in 2015. Last October, Shabaab said it executed two men it claimed were working for the British MI6.

The US military and CIA have targeted Shabaab leaders and facilities in at least 30 airstrikes and special operations forces raids since Jan. 2007, according data compiled by FDD’s Long War Journal.

In addition to Zubary and Garaar, other Shabaab leaders killed in US operations include Aden Hashi Ayro, the group’s first emir; Yusuf Dheeq and Tahlil Abdishakur, both who served as the head of the Amniyat; and Saleh ali Nabhan, a senior leader in Shabaab and al Qaeda.

Shabaab has also executed captured African Union soldiers in an effort intimidate them. Last week, Shabaab released a video showing the execution of a Ugandan soldier that it captured in Sept. 2015 after a large-scale attack on a base in southern Somalia. That assault left at least a dozen Ugandan soldiers dead and the AMISOM base in the hands of Shabaab.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of The Long War Journal. Caleb Weiss is a research analyst at FDD's Long War Journal and a senior analyst at the Bridgeway Foundation, where he focuses on the spread of the Islamic State in Central Africa.

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  • jack says:

    3 down more to go!

  • KW64 says:

    Whether these people actually worked for the CIA is rather dubious since they have claimed to capture spies after so many other Western attacks and I doubt their intel is that good. It probably does not matter much to Al Shabaab whether they actually did anything or not. They probably just needed to kill some people to intimidate anyone who might think of helping the coalition.


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