MOGADISHU, Somalia – A senior Al-Shabaab tax official in the Lower Shebelle region was killed by special forces from the Danab Infantry Corps on Wednesday, SONNA, a state-owned enterprise, reported during an operation that was also assisted by foreign forces in Somalia.
General Ismael Abdimalik, the commander of Danab’s forces, said that the official, who had been positively identified as Hashim, was killed in Leego in the famous Al-Shabaab home in southern Somalia.
The assassinated commander, he noted, had coordinated mafia-style taxation, in which local business circles separate from Zakat, which facilitates the illegal operations of militants across Somalia. He was running a customs office in the city at the time of the murder, he said.
“We managed to raid an Al-Shabaab tax office and kill one of the most wanted terrorists in Somalia,” he said. “We are pleased that our valiant troops have been able to defeat him, and this is great news for our nation as we work hard to defeat these activists.”
It is unclear which foreign team helped the Somali national army [SNA] troops to execute the sophisticated operation in an area controlled by Al-Shabaab. However, African Union forces generally assist Somali troops during ground fighting.
During the raid, added General Abdimalik, the customs office which was under the control of Al-Shabaab in Leego was destroyed, leaving two other militants dead alongside Hashim, who was under the surveillance of the security forces.
“We have destroyed the customs offices and this is a serious release. In addition to the main terrorist, two others died and we are happy that our team has registered no casualties,” he said, adding that ” we thank the foreign forces that helped us accomplish the mission.
The city of Leego is located about 100 kilometers northwest of the Somali capital, Mogadishu, and is a major hideout for activists, who have wreaked havoc in the war-torn nation over the past decade, despite concerted efforts to crush them.
Troops will establish a base in the region to keep the population safe from the militants, who had made life impossible, because of the heavy taxes that go directly to Al Shabaab’s kitty finance, added General Danab.
Residents were invited to cooperate with the military to allow them to “normalize” the situation by exposing those who worked with the group linked to Al-Qaida. The operation is the culmination of a well-coordinated assault on militants in central and southern Somalia.
For the past month, Danab forces have been carrying out operations against militants, who have seen dozens of them die in Lower Shebelle and parts of Middle Shebelle, which are used for recruitment and training.
For example, a senior activist was also killed in the Arabow area earlier this week during a military-led operation. There was also a similar crackdown east of the city of Galkayo, hours after Mudug’s governor Muse Nur was killed by militants on Sunday.
In March, SNA troops, with the help of American soldiers and the AU mission, succeeded in liberating the strategic town of Janaale in the region of Lower Shebelle, during an operation that made 140 dead, 28 injured and 18 captured, officials said.
Some intelligence reports said last month that the Shabaab group was going through a financial crisis due to declining incomes, which would have forced some of them to cross northeast Kenya to survive thanks to tax collection local.
Internal feuds between group leader Ahmed Omar Diriye and financial controller Mahad Karate also contributed significantly to the mass defections, which further weakened the militants, the report added.
In Somalia, the United States military has also continued to inflict huge losses on militants through persistent air strikes. The most recent took place this weekend, when two activists were killed in the outskirts of Qunyo Barrow, said the US Africa Command.
Among those who have since died are former intelligence commander Muse Moalim, who was executed by activists, Yusuf Jiis, a tax commander also in Lower Shebelle, and Bashir Qorgab, the activist linked to the Manda raid. Airfield in Kenya on January 5.
The group has lost its territory considerably but continues to carry out sporadic attacks on a large scale across East Africa. The Somali National Army [SNA] should take over from foreign forces in 2021, hence the dedication of the United States in training Danab forces.