Daesh/IS Gains Strong Foothold in Bari Mountains of Northeastern State State

In Northeastern State, Somalia, the Islamic State faction has expanded its territory, engaging in clashes with al-Shabab. The Emirates Policy Center report reveals a series of clashes between the two groups since early 2023, with a particularly intense battle in March 2023 resulting in the deaths of 46 individuals, including key figures from both groups. IS claimed control over the Bari region by seizing the Al-Miskaad mountains from al-Shabab, resulting in the deaths of 50 fighters, including important commanders in April 2024. Al-Shabab has been in a struggle with IS for control over this crucial region for the past eight years, intensifying their efforts to push out the rival group. Local sources in Northeastern State have confirmed that IS has regained dominance in the Al-Miskaad mountains and the wider Bari region, signaling a shifting dynamic in a region previously known for relative stability compared to other parts of the country. With its increasing strategic importance, Northeastern State, especially in the mountainous Bari territory including Al-Miskaad, Galgala, and Golis mountains in the disputed Sanaag region with North Western of Somalia, holds a vital position. The emergence of ISIS in late 2014 transformed the internal structure and ideology of the Somali Al-Shabab Movement significantly. The expansion of IS in Northeastern State offers the group logistical advantages such as access to the sea, ability to enforce taxes, conduct financial transactions, and establish connections with the IS faction in Yemen. The report emphasizes that IS takes advantage of the activities of Somali pirates to boost its propaganda, attract foreign fighters, and strengthen its position within the global organization and its ties with the Islamic State-Khorasan Province in Afghanistan. Despite briefly capturing Qandala on October 26, 2016, the coastal town 75 kilometers east of Bosaso city, Northeastern State, IS was eventually driven out by the state’s security forces in December 2016. However, IS has maintained a presence in remote areas of the state, particularly in urban centers in the Bari region like Balli Dhiddin, Turmasaale, and Iskushuban in the Galgala and Al-Miskaad mountains. Recently, Somalia’s Deputy Minister of Information, Abdirahman Yusuf Al-Addaala, announced the defeat of Al-Shabab in Galmudug and Hirshabelle, leading the militants to regroup in Northeastern State. He reported that the federal government launched an attack against Al-Shabab to prevent planned attacks on the people of Northeastern State, resulting in the deaths of 20 militants, including top leaders.

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