Divisions have emerged within the Al-Shabaab militants, a group that has been causing chaos in Somalia for the past 16 years. These divisions present a major obstacle to Somalia’s state-building process, which has been disrupted for over three decades.
Al-Shabaab, aligned with Al-Qaeda, still controls large parts of rural central and southern Somalia. However, recent military operations have been successful in destabilizing the group, making it harder for them to launch large-scale attacks against the population.
The Ministry of Defence has now revealed that a rift within Al-Shabaab has emerged, posing a significant threat to the group’s continuity and benefiting the government of Somalia. The conflict involves two senior officials within the group.
According to the ministry, one of the factions is led by Mahad Karate, the group’s financial controller, along with Al-Shabaab leader Ahmed Diriye, also known as Abu Ubaida. Diriye has been in control since the death of Ahmed Godane in 2016, who was killed by a US drone.
The factions clashed in Al-Shabaab’s headquarters in Jilib and Hargeisa-Yarey, Middle Jubba. The government troops, along with forces from the US Africa Command and the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), are preparing for the second phase of operations against the group.
“Internal strife hits Khawarij as Mahad Karate and Ahmed Diriye factions clash in Jilib and Hargeisa-Yarey, Middle Jubba. Heavy casualties among militants,” the ministry said in an unusual statement about the divisions within Al-Shabaab.
“Turmoil follows the imprisonment of Mahad Karate militias. This internal destabilization brings us closer to eliminating their threat,” the statement further emphasized, providing a significant boost to the ongoing crackdown against Al-Shabaab militants.
Finance control has been a major challenge for Al-Shabaab, as the group collects over $120 million annually, with $24 million allocated for weapon purchases. However, the government’s targeting of the group’s revenue sources has significantly reduced their financial capabilities.