Mafia in Politics of Somalia

Somalia has dealt with a range of crises since the fall of Mohamed Siyad Barre. Civil war, political instability, the fight against the Al Shabab, and the long-running political mafia in the government are among the security problems with which most in the international community and Somali people are familiar. Somalia’s Political Mafia is politically organized in clan/tribal lines and is centralized domestically and in neighboring countries, like Kenya, Uganda, and Turkey, UAE to infiltrate Somalia politics to extract public resources for private benefits. To maintain their influence regardless of who is in power, this group has a corrupting influence on all Somali institutions, including the government, parliament and judiciary, and the intelligence agency. They filled top government positions, including senior government officials, legislators, spy chiefs, senior police officials, and military officers of the federal and the regional member states.

Individual politicians and/or activists who threaten their interests may find themselves in dangerous consequences. Physical assaults, assassinations, and extortion are their favorite tactics. These crimes make up more than 80 percent of the political violence committed in Somalia.  there are times that these groups have often enlisted top military officers in the security forces to arm their allied militias in the country under the clan system “Federalism. Last year, when Somali parliament voted to extend the former president’s term by two years, organized armed militia forces have taken positions along key roads in the capital, Mogadishu under the name of “National Restoration” (Badbaado Qaran).

 In an explosive interview, former Director of Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) Fahad Yasin said that his Successor, the current Director of the Agency Mahad Mohamed Salad not only collaborates with Al-Shabab, but also an “Employee” of the terror group. Mahad Mohamed Salad was the first politician to publicly reveal the murder of a female intelligence officer, Ikran Tahliil, allegedly, by senior officials within the NISA earlier last year. Former Director of NISA also alleged that Mahad, former Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Roble and his Deputy information Minister Abdirahman Sheik Yusuf Al adaala collaborated on the abduction and the plan of killing of the former intelligence officer Ikran Tahlil “to harm the agency and tarnish its name.” Mahad Salad, which has been mired in giant scandals over during the current president’s 2012 to 2017 tenure was appointed as the Director of the Agency 10 days after the current president took the office. Mahad Salad’s leadership in the Agency already resembles as a local mafia, utilizing intimidation, extortion, and violence within the Agency and in the general public to silence his critics in and outside the government. 

Political Mafia in Somalia defies easy categorization, blurring the conceptual line between government and violent terrorist groups in the country. As a result, their behavior is difficult to predict, making them particularly dangerous actors in the political environment. My over a decade of analyzing Somali politics and regional dynamics, in many cases, it has become impossible for me to distinguish the interests of the political mafia in government and nongovernment criminal actors like Al-Shabab, ISIS, and others alike groups in the country. Unfortunately, this group shapes the country’s behavior and poses a serious challenge to policymakers and analysts of politics. This group enriches themselves and their families and friends while exploiting the money, muscle, political influence, and external connections of criminal syndicates to cement and expand their power in the government. 

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