Al-Shabaab leader admits defeats

By Majid Ahmed in Mogadishu

December 17, 2012

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Al-Shabaab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane has admitted publicly that his group's fighters have been defeated in a series of recent battles in Somalia.

  • Members of al-Shabaab give themselves up to African Union Mission in Somalia troops in Garsale, 10 kilometres from Jowhar, on September 22nd. [Mohamed Abdiwahab/AFP]

    Members of al-Shabaab give themselves up to African Union Mission in Somalia troops in Garsale, 10 kilometres from Jowhar, on September 22nd. [Mohamed Abdiwahab/AFP]

  • Somali National Army soldiers patrol Jowhar on December 10th after wresting the town from al-Shabaab. The loss of Jowhar is considered a significant blow to the militant group. [Stuart Price/AU-UN IST/AFP]

    Somali National Army soldiers patrol Jowhar on December 10th after wresting the town from al-Shabaab. The loss of Jowhar is considered a significant blow to the militant group. [Stuart Price/AU-UN IST/AFP]

"This year comes as the crusade against Islamic rule in Somalia has been mounting and the crusader enemy has intensified its military, security, political and media capabilities to dim the light of sharia and defeat Islamic rule," he said in an audio message released Tuesday (December 11th) by al-Kataib Foundation, al-Shabaab's media centre, and other websites affiliated with the group.

Godane, also known as Mukhtar Abu al-Zubair, announced that al-Shabaab will resort to guerrilla tactics. "I would like to tell the Islamic nation and its elite mujahideen, particularly Mullah Omar and Sheikh Ayman al-Zawahiri […] that the military might of the mujahideen in Somalia is strong and that they are waging a holy jihad that relies on raids and ambushes to create a state of instability for the enemy in the areas they control," he said.

Godane's message came two days after his fighters fled the city of Jowhar, the largest city remaining under their control, as soldiers from the Somali National Army and the African Union Mission in Somalia approached. Jowhar, capital of the Middle Shabelle region, is one of many regional capitals captured by government-allied forces in the past year, including Kismayo, Marka, Beledweyne, Baidoa and Hudur.

Retired Colonel Omar Mohamed, an adviser to the Somali army, said Godane's announcement that his group is moving towards guerrilla warfare and ambush techniques indicates al-Shabaab's increasing weakness.

"Godane's message reveals the total collapse from which the group is suffering, as well as the state of despair that afflicts its criminal members," he told Sabahi. "What he is trying to do is boost the morale of his frustrated fighters."

"If we look at the timing of this message, it comes when al-Shabaab is under siege from all directions and is suffering huge losses day after day as a result of the painful blows they have been dealt at the hands of the national army and its allies," he said. "Members of the al-Shabaab militia are living in a state of desperation and weakness as they are unable to escape the tightening grip of the national armed forces."

Mohamed said al-Shabaab fighters have no other option but to lay down their weapons and surrender to the government. "They are fleeing the large cities and taking refuge in rural areas that are relatively far away from the allied forces' movement, but they are unable to find a safe haven anywhere in the country."

President Mohamud announces al-Shabaab's defeat

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said last week that al-Shabaab has been militarily defeated.

"We have inflicted a military loss on al-Shabaab and the national army has liberated most of Somalia's major cities," he told the BBC Somali Service on December 12th.

The president said that the government is ready to pardon Somali fighters, especially youths, who are willing to abandon violence and lay down their arms to help rebuild the country. "We welcome with open arms all girls and boys who decide to leave al-Shabaab; these are our girls and boys," he said.

"We are working towards sending tribal elders to convince the youth who have been deceived to join al-Shabaab, reject violence and lay down their weapons," he added.

Mohamud said the Somali government will not negotiate with foreign fighters, as they must return to their countries. "There is also no room for negotiation with people who think they can achieve anything by using weapons or supporting the mass killing of Somalis," he said.

Abdirahim Issa Adow, director of Radio Mogadishu and former spokesman for the Islamic Courts Union, said al-Shabaab's status as a military group is almost over.

"Almost two years ago, al-Shabaab was a group that boasted military might as it launched a campaign called 'The End of the Aggressors' and called on government forces and officials to surrender within five days," he told Sabahi. "But now, al-Shabaab has reached a dead end and is nothing more than remnants trapped in a few areas."

In Godane's message, he praised jihadist fighters in North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Adow said these references are merely an attempt to divert attention from the group's losses. "It is also a desperate attempt to form ties and relationships with other terrorist groups in the region," he said.

Omar Dahir, a security analyst and director of the Centre for Moderation and Dialogue in Mogadishu, said Godane's message shows al-Shabaab's increasing military and political defeat.

"Because of its strict approach, adoption of global jihad and its merger with al-Qaeda, al-Shabaab has lost the real battle, which is to win the hearts and minds of the Somali people," he told Sabahi.

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Reader's Comments

  • hameed anjuun
    July 11, 2014 @ 04:58:05AM

    Changes are very important, but the question is: do al-Shabaab really follow justice? Dear brothers, truth is always bent. This hooligan group has killed thousands of innocent peole, but they have their own agenda and I praise legitimate Somali soldiers. They must diminish those hooligans and am ready to fight at the side of the legitimate government.

  • Najma Maktoum
    April 20, 2013 @ 09:57:30AM

    As a muslim young girl am against Sharia (Somalia dont need sharia) Extremists suchs as al shabaab have killed more Muslims than non-Muslims, look at the Shabab Islamic movement contributing to the famine in Somalia; hence, we are “fighting” the same enemy.

  • haninja
    March 29, 2013 @ 06:54:49AM

    Allah does not want people to get killed, it is not his will that Shabaab fighters kill honest muslims just because they want power and war. It is his will to have peace, and the new government is islamic too, but is peaceful and that is what he wants.

  • AM
    January 23, 2013 @ 12:11:01PM

    No doubt alshabaab cult group have lost the war and it is a great year for Somalia and am pleased that the majority of our people had enough of those criminal thugs who brought destruction and death on to our long suffering people and that we are all united in the fight against ungodly psychopaths who twistwed and misused our faith for their own criminal activities.a

    January 14, 2013 @ 08:34:41AM

    it so disheartenig to imgine some young somali boys craving nd praying for the shabaab. who will show this guyz some light?

  • nasriin
    January 6, 2013 @ 01:23:30PM

    alshaabaab will not going to sport Somalia and i am sure as my died that alshabaab will just increase the problems and they are the creaters of wars and tellin g something that is not true in our religoun great Islam. the reason that i am saying this does Islam saying it is ok to kill your brother and our sisters just for no reason. insha Allah alshabaab will going down and problems will be sloving insah Allah.

  • cosmag
    January 5, 2013 @ 08:19:48AM

    kudos to somali pple for refusing the shabaab ideology, wel done SNA and AMISOM troops we need peace in the world.

  • Husen hasan hashi
    January 3, 2013 @ 02:07:23AM

    We pray to God for Al-Shabaab to succeed and for the disbelievers to be defeated wherever they are. May God help Somalia and make those who intend to do good successful. Thank you.

  • Somaliman
    January 1, 2013 @ 04:58:03AM

    Is mahiga the president of somalia? I hope all somalian surrender to mahiga he is your realy presedent. Go ahead

  • Ciiltire muhumed
    December 30, 2012 @ 04:17:41AM

    Hi dear peoples to mi i believe beyond ashadow of doubt that somali is movin 4ward 4rm transition to transformation

  • abbas mohamed
    December 29, 2012 @ 10:33:35AM

    my prayer every day is that Allah will give victory to Al-Shabaab even I will join them. ALLAH has promised that if you rescue his religion He will also rescue you

  • taikun
    December 29, 2012 @ 02:26:52AM

    god give strength to Al-Shabaab and one day I will join them in the cause of Allah

  • peter ngugi njaramba
    December 28, 2012 @ 02:59:52AM

    good move

    December 25, 2012 @ 10:22:32AM


  • khalif Abdi Frah
    December 23, 2012 @ 03:13:48AM

    So long as some communities in Benadir, Hiraan, Lower Shabelle, Galgadud, parts of Mudug and the Galagalla mountains entertain the terror group and often mutate from one form into another including piracy, warlords and clan militias, then it will be foolish to assume their eradication as its in public domain that, we have persons claiming to be government officials and running militias in the name of Somali government in places like Galkacyo, Cadaado, Hiraan and the coast of Hobyo and Xera dheere. Let the people of middle and south-east central stop fooling the world if Somalia has to be peaceful.

  • habil
    December 22, 2012 @ 01:03:07AM

    i will join alshabaab if god wishes and I pray for them every day and they will win I belive

  • ahmadi
    December 19, 2012 @ 12:40:50PM

    Al-Shabaab should just surrender and build Somalia in unity.

  • tsafu
    December 19, 2012 @ 06:49:14AM

    It is a shame to hear every year about Somalia and its weak government! Somalis should stop being selfish and power hungry. Put your weapons down and build a stable nation with unity taking into account all Somalis. We are tired of having Somalis humiliated every year by being transported like luggage and dying in vehicle containers. All this is due to lack of stability.

    December 18, 2012 @ 11:03:35AM


  • mujaahid
    December 18, 2012 @ 07:54:52AM

    You are disbelievers begotten by disbelievers. Your statements will not make the Muslims defeated but you are the ones who will lose both in this world and in hereafter.

  • Moxamed nur salad
    December 18, 2012 @ 07:03:51AM

    The message sent by Godane is a clear interpretation of the fall of Al-Shabaab. I would like to tell the citizens of Somalia to thank God because the enemy has been eliminated and there is peace in Somalia. We have now achieved victory and we thank God for that.

  • gelle
    December 18, 2012 @ 05:59:32AM

    i see al-shabaab as a public enemy,as well as muslim enemy because what they have done in th past years against innocent young somali children,and i hope allah will banish them

  • Mary
    December 18, 2012 @ 12:59:07AM

    To the Somali Nation,never give up,the world supports your course of peace.We are proud of Somalis.God give them courage.

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