A former lawmaker who was also involved in a failed coup plot against the military regime in Somalia was the driver of the first explosives-laden vehicle that rocked Mogadishu’s heavily fortified zone killing 13 people and injuring 17 others Tuesday.
Saleh Nuh Ismail who has been identified as the man who drove the first vehicle which exploded near the entrance of African Union and UN compounds joined the militant group Al-Shabaab in mid-2010 after serving as an MP in the Sheikh Sharif administration.
Transitional Federal Government
Prior to serving as an MP in the second Transitional Federal Government, TFG term led by Sharif Sheikh Ahmed which folded up in 2012, Ismail was an MP in the first TFG led by former president Abdullahi Yusuf Adan.
A former MP who was a colleague of Ismail in the 2009-2012 parliament told Goobjoog News on condition of anonymity that Ismail ran into financial problems and decided to join Al-Shabaab in the hope of meeting his financial ends.
“Ismail used to chew khat quite a lot and that was a time our salary was very little and inconsistent. Before the end of term in 2010, Ismail crossed over to Al-Shabaab which by then controlled large swathes of the capital Mogadishu,” the former lawmaker said.
The lawmaker also intimated Ismail was arrested by the Siad Barre regime of masterminding a coup plot. Siad Barre came to power through a military coup in 1969 and his regime collapsed in 1991 leading to a civil war which ravaged the Horn of Africa nation for over two decades.
Al-Shabaab subsequently came to existence after the fall of the Islamic Courts Union in 2006.
Al-Shabaab released an hour long interview Wednesday barely 24 hours after the attack which Amisom and UN claimed none of its staff were killed.
The involvement of a former lawmaker in Al-Shabaab opens a new foray in understanding Al-Shabaab attacks which have conventionally targeted lawmakers. At least an MP is always a victim of Al-Shabaab attacks mainly targeting hotels frequented by lawmakers.
Mogadishu police chief Bisha Ali Gedi also yesterday indicated a possible change of tact by Al-Shabaab since it did not deploy gunmen in any of the two attacks Tuesday. “Unlike conventional Al-Shabaab attacks,” said Gedi, “The militants did not accompany the suicide bombers in the Tuesday attack.”
Ismail hailed from Sanaag region in northern Somalia.