Somalia: Militant planned raid on US base in Kenya beaten to life in prison

MOGADISHU, Somalia – An Al-Shabaab defector believed to have taken part in the US naval base at Manda Airfield earlier this year in coastal Kenya has been convicted by a Somali military court in yet another dramatic performance showing efficiency in the internal systems of Horn Africa nation.

The outspoken head of the military court, Colonel Hassan Ali Nor [Shute] convicted Farhan Mohamud Hassan, who had served in the militant group for years before his departure, in a lawsuit exposing infiltration into government institutions by al-Shabaab militants who have wreaked havoc in the war-torn nation for several years.

The convict confessed in an interview with local media to joining the Al-Qaeda-linked group in 2010 in the Kenya-Somali border town of Balad-Hawo, but would later use Amnesty provided by Somalia security forces to defect, and was later recruited to the SNA to help fight former allies.

But intelligence services in Somalia linked him to infiltration of the SNA after investigating his conduct before he was arrested in military court. The prisoner was beaten with a life sentence and would spend his entire life behind bars for breaking trust and lying to the state.

Shockingly, Farhan Mohamud Hassan admitted to helping Al-Shabaab transport explosives to Al-Shabaab to Manda Bay in Kenya before the deadly January 5 attack on the U.S. naval base used to train regional forces from across East Africa.

“I joined Al-Shabaab in 2010 before leaving the Somali National Army. But I helped them transport explosives to Manda Airfield, where they carried out an attack,” Mohamed said in a confession that briefly shocked journalists and the senior military officials following his convictions.

The deadly unprecedented attack left three U.S. citizens dead, including a soldier, according to a Department of Defense report. In a siege that lasted five hours, it was the U.S. military and Kenya Defense Forces [KDF] counterparts managed to kill five militants on the spot.

Following the attack, several Special Forces from the East African Regiment Unit were deployed to Lamu before being visited by the U.S. Commander-in-Chief, General Stephen Townsend, who was visiting both Kenya and Somalia. The base has since been secured and activities resumed with dozens of soldiers trained by the United States.

The verdict’s confession further confirms the KDF intelligence team, which had raised a red flag over the infiltration of Al-Shabaab in Somalia’s key institutions. In a report dismissed by the Mogadishu administration, KDF insisted that the National Intelligence Security Agency [NISA] of Somalia shared intelligence underwear with Al-Shabaab to the detriment of foreign troops.

The conviction also comes at a time when the United States is considering launching airstrikes on Kenyan soil, particularly in the northeastern region. The proposal from the US Africa Command is currently being reviewed by the Department of Defense in Washington DC, the New York Times reported.

The new authorities, which still need to be approved by Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper and then President Trump, do not necessarily mean that the United States will start carrying out drone strikes in Kenya. Nevertheless, in certain circumstances, they would allow Africa Command to extend the drone war on terrorism to another country.

The pressure for the expanded authorities traces back to a Shabab attack in January on a military base in Kenya that housed U.S. troops, officials said. The attack at the airport at Manda Bay killed three Americans and caused millions of dollars in damage, the NYT added.

Bashir Qorgab was tracked down in Saakow city of Somalia after constructing the attack on Manda Airfield, and such actions necessitated AFRICOM’s decision to push for the strategy. The militants have often sneaked into Kenya because of the porous border in the region.

Colonel Christopher P. Karns, commander-in-chief of the command, declined to comment on the new authorities. “Africom certainly recognizes the need to apply constant international pressure on Al-Shabab and monitor their activity, presence and actively confront them to prevent their proliferation,” he said in an email. “This can take several forms.”

Lieutenant Anton T. Semelroth, a Pentagon spokesman, added in an email: “The U.S. military will defend U.S. personnel, citizens, and homeland as needed anywhere in the world.” Nor did he address the new guidelines.

Last week, the U.S.-African command Al-Shabaab ranked as a dangerous outfit against its citizens and allies in a statement released by General Stephen Townsend, who is commander of the outfit. The United States insisted it would continue to help Somalia in the fight.

Barely a week ago, militants looted a U.S. Army outpost known as Janaa Abdalla about 60 km west of Kismayo in an attack that left at least two Danab soldiers dead. According to the command, a US soldier was wounded and Al-Shabaab announced that the troops have since left the area.

AXADLETM