Al-Shabaab’s District Commissioner in Kismayo, Sheikh Hassan Yacqub, has begun efforts to evacuate his wives and children out of the port city in anticipation of troops allied with the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) into the city in the coming weeks.
According to reports, Yacqub sent one wife and their children to Nairobi and sent another wife and family members to Mogadishu.
Yacqub–who is originally from Baidoa (Bay region)–most likely wants to keep his family away from any potential violence between al-Shabaab forces and TFG-allied troops, who aim to oust the terrorist group from its lucrative hub before the TFG’s mandate expires on August 20.
It is also possible that the Shabaab commissioner seeks to give his family respite from the cholera outbreak that has engulfed the city due to the group’s inability to provide clean drinking water and adequate sanitation.
Ironically, Yacqub has called consistently for Kismayo residents to make sacrifices for its cause–demanding that they pay higher taxes or join the group’s forces. He also has prohibited residents who want to leave the city to avoid any imminent violence from leaving the city.
Additionally, while the al-Shabaab leader sends his children to relative safety in Nairobi and Mogadishu, Yacqub has been responsible for the forced recruitment of students in the city.
Whether one agrees or not with al-Shabaab as an alternative to the clearly corrupt and incompetent TFG, Yacqub’s actions serve as an example of the group’s hypocritical policies and inadequate resources to be an effective authority in the country.