The Enemy Within: Puntland Claims of Gains Against Alshabaab, More Than Meets the Eye

The Enemy Within: Puntland Claims of Gains Against Alshabaab, More Than Meets the Eye
The Enemy Within: Puntland Claims of Gains Against Alshabaab, More Than Meets the Eye

A dozen times too many and too frequently Puntland state of Somalia pushed and sponsored news reports about its security forces’s operations and victories against AlShabaab. In a short period of three weeks, between last week of May and mid-June, Puntland security forces have twice claimed capturing weapons caches from AlShabaab.

However, since Said Abdullahi Deni was elected Puntland president approximately two and a half years ago AlShabaab has conducted the most daring raid and assassination attacks against top level security officials and installations in Puntland. Examples include, Bosasso Prison raid in 2021, the two separate assassinations of the Mudug and Nugaal regional Governors in 2020, and the assassination of DP Word Expatriate in 2019.

Due to apparent discrepancies in the government reported claims of success against AlShabaab and the increasing threads from AlShabaab people are asking questions. About what’s has changed and why things are happening the way they are happening.

In seeking answers to this, the name of Puntland minister of interior has been receiving unfair share of mentions. Before becoming interior minister, Mahamed Abdirahman Ahmed (Norwegian), aka Mohamed Abdirahman Warsame “Dhabancad,” (Somali) had a history to his name.

While he worked as a local staff for UNOCHA and several other humanitarians organizations, Abirahman Ahmed/Warsame “Dhabancad” reportedly maintained direct links with senior AlShabaab Amniyat leaders.


In November 2018, Dabancad reportedly facilitated a meeting between Galkayo leaders and AlShabaab in Jilib, Alshabaab stronghold. In that meeting AlShabaab threatened the elders to stop being critical of AlShabaab and stop their public support for Puntland government.

When in 2019 President Said Abdullahi Deni met and castigated Gaalkayo elders claiming that they fear AlShabaab and they don’t want to criticize them, the elders rebuffed him. In their defense, the elders reportedly told Deni that they don’t fear AlShabaab but the person they fear most  is his own minister of interior who’s the main facilitator for AlShabaab. They told Deni that they don’t want to meet or have any association with the Puntland minister of interior.

Following the elders claims Deni confronted Dhabancad and demanded that he comes clean on the claims that he’s the main link with Alshabaab. Under pressure, Dhabancad cut communication with AlShabaab. And after some time has passed and Alshabaab assassinated the Nugaal and Mudug Governors closely apart in Garowe and Galkayo, Dhabancad knowing the consequences restored his facilitation, links and communications with AlShabaab.

Before becoming interior minister,  Dhabancad was suspected to be part of locals instigating violence between Punland clans in Galkayo and between Galkayo North and South clans. With revelations of his links with Alshabaab coming to light, it’s possible he might have been acting on Alshabaab’s orders since AlShabab is known to cause conflict between clans as its survival strategy.

Dhabancad’s links with AlShabaab rans deep and cannot just be a coincidence because his relationship with AlShabaab’s Amniyat commander, Mohamed Nur Jama aka Bin Mohamed, dates back in 30 years. Bin Mohamed was among the AlShabaab Amniyat commanders that Dhabancad made the elders meet in Jilib in 2018.

It’s unfortunate that these kinds of relationships exist in all the Federal Government and the Federal Member States making the fight against Alshabaab a very complex and complicated affair. These administrations have current and former members of AlShabab as facilitators and leaders.

Only few of these people have defected from AlShabaab through the defectors’ program. The greatest majority are not publicly known to have been members of AlShabaab and have taken political, administrative and security roles in the Federal Government and Federal Member States.

It’s horrifying that today the most dangerous AlShabaab criminals are not the ones on the run from the mortal danger of being hit by drone attacks. The most dangerous AlShabaab members and their aiders are in airconditioned offices, bulletproof cars and live in protected houses in major towns. Some have since found residence in European cities and have received European resident permits or passports.

It’s unfortunate that there are no well-connected AlShabaab members who had been arrested or surrendered that remain in detention. The only ones who remain in jail or are killed after arrest are ordinary ones who don’t have big names behind them as relatives or in-laws.

Puntland’s Minister of interior is not the only one in this situation but it is the prevalence of his types of the enemy within situations without accountability which is worrying. In this case therefore, there is more than meet the eye in Deni’s bravado in the fight against AlShabaab.

Reported by: Aydid Guled


Abdi Aziz Hassan Ibrahim is , a somali veteran journalist based in the Somali capital, Mogadishu. Twitter @mareegonline Email: