After al-Shabaab’s suicide bomber penetrated security and detonated herself at the National Theater, the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) began an investigation to address suspicions that members of the Prime Minister’s (PM) security team worked in cahoots with al-Shabaab to target the PM and other high-level officials.
According to reports, three individuals who worked as part of PM Abdiweli’s security team were arrested recently, including head of security Cali Cabdi Wardheere (Cali Yare), who allegedly was seen speaking with the suicide bomber multiple times before the attack.
Cali Yare was bailed out by his brother-in-law and Mogadishu mayor/Banadir Governor Maxamed Nuur “Tarsan”. Cali Yare has been reportedly in hiding since posting bail.
Tarzan, who stated his opinion that some TFG officials were involved in the National Theater attack, has created a conflict of interest by both bailing out a family member who is a suspect, and on the other hand, announcing a program that pays informants $500 in bounty for information leading to the capture of al-Shabaab fighters.
Tarzan’s rescue of his brother-in-law may attract more suspicion and could impact his ability to play a credible role in the investigation of TFG involvement in the blast.
Clan issues are likely to impede efforts to conduct a successful investigation.
The PM’s security team was replaced with Majerteen clan members (Abdiweli’s home clan) from Puntland, and many Sade-Marehan security officers that previously comprised much of his security detail were relieved. (Even so, Abdiweli has been staying in the Presidential palace due to security concerns.)
As a result, Somali elders and an MP from the clan of those arrested have said the investigation is politically- and clan-motivated and requested those arrested to be released until a “fair” process could be assured.
Making a Shilling
If any number of TFG officials have agreed to collaborate with al-Shabaab, what are some potential motivations for these individuals? It’s possible they could share the group’s radical ideology.
Or as UN Special Envoy Augustine Mahiga stated, groups (such as the Ala-Sheikh group, Mahiga asserts) could be working with al-Shabaab to derail the Roadmap process.
However, one simple motivation may be the financial payout awarded to collaborators.
For example, al-Shabaab purportedly offered $20,000—if successful—to the driver of TFG Deputy Army commander Abdikarim Yusuf Aden (Dhagabadan) to provide access for a suicide bomber targeting Dhagabadan. Luckily, the driver was arrested before the attack could occur.
Even if the bribe was less than $20,000, al-Shabaab most likely has the financial resources to coerce potentially many modestly-paid TFG employees to provide assistance in future attacks.
Even if the TFG–with the help of AMISOM and clan militias–can expand its control beyond Mogadishu, al-Shabaab’s capability to use high-stakes bribery could continue to hamper the capacity of the TFG to act as a stable power and will remain an issue as the constitutional process and presidential elections move toward an assuredly tense month of August.