Somalia: UN report accuses Puntland’s President of weak anti-terrorism policy, piracy links

United Nations Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea has acknowledged in a confidential report that the President of Somalia’s North Eastern State of Puntland Abdiweli Mohamed Ali Gaas has showed extreme reluctance to address the upsurge in extremism, saying his ties to pirate linchpins also remain apparent, Garowe Online reports. 

The 8-member panel of UN investigators further spotlighted the increasing threat by beleaguered Islamist militants to the state’s peace, Al Shabaab infiltration into low-morale Puntland Forces, frailty of security apparatuses and Gaas’ links with top pirate leaders.

Citing poor cooperation from Puntland presidency and consistent stumbling block by President Gaas himself, UN monitors say:” The Puntland authorities hindrance is indicative of its apparent unwillingness to robustly address the threat of Al-Shabaab”.

Chief of cabinet at President’s Office, Deeq Sulieman Yusuf was initially in contact with the UN investigators but shortly after the cooperation became suspended, the group unveiled that they were again confronted with repeated efforts by the Puntland authorities, in particular the President, to obstruct its investigations into Al-Shabaab activities, both within the territory of Puntland and beyond.

According to independent experts, among the  four issues that contributed to the increasing presence of Islamist insurgents in Galgala area and other hideouts along Golis Mountain Ranges are ‘catch and release’ policy adopted by Ali, demoralized army troops, militants unprecedented pullout in south-central hotbeds and reconfiguration of Al Shabaab Northeast political leadership.

“During in the past year, increasing evidence indicates that Al-Shabaab has also successfully attempted to infiltrate the Government of Puntland,” read the UN report.” In Puntland, Al-Shabaab has used its infiltration to conduct offensive action, such as surveillance of United Nations compounds, and in one instance as a sanctuary for carrying out an operation against a regional Member State”.

Bari Regional Police Commander killing  UN report exposed that Al Shabaab suicide bomber- the killer of Bari regional police commander Abdirahman Ali Abas (Muslim) on August 4- who was identified as Mohamed Abukar Zubayr comes from the same clan as Puntland leader and was possibly released on presidential pardon.

“While information surrounding Mohamed Abukar’s release is unclear, credible information obtained from multiple sources, including diplomatic and senior Puntland officials suggests he was released either by the Police or granted amnesty by President Abdiweli in 2014,” the report noted.

Puntland security officials could not be reached for comments on the behind the scenes of Zubayr by Garowe Online but multiple independent sources say, Zubayr might have taken advantage of amnesty offer on the eve of Eid Al Fitr celebrations.

Piracy Links  On Pirate finances, UN investigators said Puntland leader seems to have a relationship with two pirate kingpins-Abdikani Diriye Abdulle and Ahmed Dirie Abdille-in accordance with photographic images posted on Abdikani’s facebook feed.

“Abdiqani Diriye Abdile is identified as the brother of Ahmed Diriye and sent him USD 26,300 in 2013. Judging from their Facebook accounts, both brothers seem to have ties or some form of relationship with Puntland President Abdiweli Mohamed Ali “Gaas”,” said UN report, disclosing that Ahmed Dirie Abdulle (long-footed) hails from the clan that President belongs to and received transfers totaling USD 1,575,112.47 between May 2009 and May 2014.

Dirie (long-footed) who resides in UAE is Ethiopian passport holder, however UN monitors say  UAE government didn’t respond to UNMG letter seeking information on Dirie activities.

Astur Jawase Abdi and her husband Abdullahi Ahmed Haji Farah-pirate leader who runs heavily armed milita- were also said in UN report to have sent money to Dirie  as were his brother Abdikani Dirie Abdulle.

Garowe Online learned that Astur Jawase, former Khat dealer announced that she would compete for the mayor of Qardo, 122km southeast of Puntland capital of Garowe in the forthcoming municipal elections.

Amnesty offer

UN report revealed that Isse Mohamud Yusuf (Isse Yuluh)-popular pirate leader-currently based in the coastal village of Murcanyo in Bari region of northeastern Somalia reportedly received amnesty offer from Puntland Government under a deal brokered by presidential advisor Abdullahi Eid.

“In March 2014, Yuluh announced in the media his renunciation of piracy and was reportedly given “amnesty” by the Puntland Government.The deal was brokered by “Abdullahi Eid”, the interior and municipalities affairs adviser to the Puntland President, Abdiweli Mohamud Ali “Gaas”, and formerly a prominent member of Gaas” Puntland Presidential election campaign team,” the report added.

On May 4, reliable sources told GO that Puntland Government lured Yulux into an agreement that would pave the way for the informal handover of fighting vehicles and armed-trucks as well as integration of militiamen into Puntland Defence Force (PDF).

In response to GO article, Puntland presidency rejected the matter as false media reports on May 15.

Ali, was elected Puntland’s new president in a narrow victory margin of 33-to-32 parliamentary vote on January 8,2014.


Original Article