MOGADISHU – Former Hizbul Islam leader, Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys has on Wednesday launched furious attack on Al Qaeda linked Al-Shabaab group based in Somalia.
Sheikh Hassan accused Al Shabaab group of assassinating his former colleague Ismail Haji Addow on April 15 in Mogadishu.
Addow has been working as a university lecturer, but was ex-chairman of Hisbul Islam’s Shura Council.
In a new video, Sheikh Hassan described Al-Shabaab as “dishonest”, “ungrateful “and “shameful” for killing his former friends – Ismail Addow, Abdulkadir Ga’amey, Ahmed Haji Abdirahman in Mogadishu.
“All my friends were killed in and out of mosques in Somali capital. It is colous and cowardly acts carried out by Al Shabaab”, he said.
“Unarmed civilian people are killed as a result of “your bad conduct”, Aweys added.
Sheikh Aweys is a Somali political figure who was added to the U.S. government’s list of terrorists in 2001.
Aweys was the head of the 90-member Shura council of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) of Somalia and was viewed as one of the more radical leaders of the Union, which promoted shari’a and directed the militias that took control of the Somali capital of Mogadishu in June 2006.
He resigned from the ICU on 28 December 2006, at the end of ICU rule in Mogadishu.
Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys was part of AIAI leadership which took over large parts of Somalia immediately following the collapse of the Somali Central Government.
From 1991 to 1998, AIAI’s Gedo Region branch led by former Somali High Court Judge Mohamed Haji Yusuf maintained formidable forces.
Gedo district seats of Lugh, Balad Hawo and Burdubo were all run by IAIA forces. Lugh was entirely governed by AIAI.
At the time, there were other regional military authority Somali National Front (SNF) running parts of Gedo.
Dahir Aweys settled in Lower Shabelle when some disputes came of light in Lugh’s Al-Itahad leadership.
On 18 September 1996, the Ethiopian army invaded Lugh and forced out most of the AIAI forces. The following two years, the war front changed into what was later to become the Mountains War of Gedo. And the war this time was between SNF and AIAI. The Ethiopian regime just armed SNF militias. Ethiopians gave SNF an estimated 800 to 1000 small arms and around a dozen heavy weapons. The Gedo war ended when both sides agreed on a truce, and general peace with a peace conference held in El Ade on December 1998 was concluded.
AIAI was destroyed later in the 1990s by a force led by Abdullahi Yusuf and funded by Ethiopia.
On 7 November 2001, Aweys was named a ‘supporter of terrorism’ in a supplement of Executive Order 13224 of United States President George W. Bush.
Aweys is also on the terrorist list of the United States Department of State as somebody who is known as an al-Qaeda operative or who is connected with al-Qaeda.
When Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed was elected President in 2004, Aweys declared that he would support the new leader, even if he pursued former elements of al-Itihaad, as long as the country was ruled according to Islam.
After the defeat of AIAI Aweys played a key role in setting up a system of courts according to the shari’a by local businessmen desperate for order, becoming its spiritual head.
The Courts brought relative stability to areas under its control, after years of turmoil. The Courts’ notion of order was strict, including stonings for serious crimes such as rape and murder. At first it only controlled the area of north Mogadishu, but it gained support from many Somali’s following the random violence committed by the warlords who controlled southern Mogadishu.
Beginning 2004, eleven of these courts folded into an umbrella organization, the Islamic Courts Union, which fielded a formidable militia.
A UN report in early 2006 stated that Aweys was receiving military support from Eritrea, as part of the ongoing conflict between it and Ethiopia, though Eritrea denies the claim.
Following the Union’s victory in Mogadishu in June 2006, Aweys rose to be the head of the shura committee, replacing Sharif Sheik Ahmed. The Courts’ second-in-command Abdulakdir Ali stated day-to-day matters would be handled by Sharif Sheikh Ahmed’s executive committee.
On 21 July 2006, Hassan Aweys, in a radio broadcast, urged holy war on Ethiopian troops stationed in Baidoa to support the UN-backed government of Somalia.
On 19 December 2006, he received medical treatment in Egypt just before the beginning of the war against the UN-backed Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and Ethiopian troops.
On 21 December 2006, as the fighting intensified with Ethiopia, he took a flight to an undisclosed location with Yusuf Mohammed Siad Inda’ade, and rather than news of medical treatment, it was said he was on the hajj.
On 27 December 2006, Aweys, along with a group of several hundred fighters from the Hizbul Islam wing of the ICU fled Mogadishu, presumably to the former AIAI base at Ras Kamboni.
On 31 December 2006, he vowed to fight on, and called for others to create an insurgency against the government. Meanwhile, a heavily armed column of government and Ethiopian troops advanced from Mogadishu through Lower Shabelle towards Kismayo. They reached Bulo Marer (Kurtun Warrey district) and were heading to Barawe.
In January 2007, his whereabouts remained generally unknown, but it was believed he was ailing.
2007–2009: Alliance for the Liberation of Somalia (ARS)
In September 2007, he emerged in Eritrea forming a new rebellion.
The Djibouti peace-talks between the ARS and the TFG, however, led to a split in the organisation, with the Djibouti-based “moderate” faction led by Sharif Ahmed eventually signing the agreement and joining the TFG and the Eritrea-based “hard-liner” faction led by Hassan Dahir Aweys refusing to do so and advocating continuation armed resistance.
2009–2010: Hizbul Islam
In early 2009, four major rebel groups, Aweys’ Asmara-based wing of the ARS, Hassan Abdullah Hersi al-Turki’s Ras Kamboni Brigade, Jabhatul Islamiya and Muaskar Anole joined together to form a new group called Hizbul Islam, vowing to continue the rebellion against the new government of President Sharif Ahmed.
Although the group was initially led by Omar Iman Abubakar, he stepped down on 26 May 2009 in favour of Aweys taking the position of chairman.
On 23 April 2009, Aweys returned to Somalia declaring a war on the African Peace Keeping Forces AMISOM. He made clear that he would not meet Sharif Ahmed saying:
“Mr Sharif’s government was not elected by the Somali people and it is not representing the interests the Somali people”
He accused the President of being an instrument of the international community and on 9 May 2009, Hizbul Islam and al-Shabaab tried to topple the Government of Sharif Ahmed by opening the 2009 Battle of Mogadishu, which lasted for months, in which the Islamists managed to gain territory but failed ultimately to topple the regime.
Mogadishu residents reported that they saw foreign fighters in the frontline of the battle, raising concerns that Somalia may become the next terrorist safe haven after Iraq and Afghanistan.
In June 2009, it was rumoured he had been killed during the Battle of Wabho. He later dismissed reports that he was killed or heavily injured.
After the Battle of Kisimayo (2009) the group was involved in an unsuccessful power-struggle with al-Shabaab in which Hizbul Islam was ultimately forced to surrender, after which they merged with al-Shabaab on 20 December 2010 under the banner of al-Shabaab, dropping the name Hizbul Islam.
Aweys was involved in the power struggle between Mukhtar Robow (Abu Mansoor) and Moktar Ali Zubeyr (Godane), during which he supported Abu Mansoor in demanding that Godane would step down as the group’s Emir.
Aweys had been as Hizbul Islam’s political and spiritual leader.
In June 2013, Aweys was taken into custody by Somali security forces, denoting the victory of the hardliners described in al-Shabab.
However, the nature of his arrest—initially being promised talks with government officials and then being roughed up by soldiers when arrested instead—has created concern that it could cause the Hawiye clan of the president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Aweys to split.