September 2011, Week 2


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Fri, 9 Sep 2011 01:12:14 -0400
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Blowback in Somalia

Jeremy Scahill 

September 7, 2011 
This article appeared in the September 26,
2011 edition of The Nation.

The notorious Somali paramilitary warlord who goes by the
nom de guerre Indha Adde, or White Eyes, walks alongside
trenches on the outskirts of Mogadishu's Bakara Market
once occupied by fighters from the Shabab, the Islamic
militant group that has pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda. In
one of the trenches, the foot of a corpse pokes out from a
makeshift grave consisting of some sand dumped loosely
over the body. One of Indha Adde's militiamen says the
body is that of a foreigner who fought alongside the
Shabab. "We bury their dead, and we also capture them
alive," says Indha Adde in a low, raspy voice. "We take
care of them if they are Somali, but if we capture a
foreigner we execute them so that others will see we have
no mercy."

Despite such thug talk, Indha Adde is not simply a
warlord, at least not officially, anymore. Nowadays, he is
addressed as Gen. Yusuf Mohamed Siad, and he wears a
Somali military uniform, complete with red beret and three
stars on his shoulder. His weapons and his newfound
legitimacy were bestowed upon him by the US-sponsored
African Union force, known as AMISOM, that currently
occupies large swaths of Mogadishu.

It is quite a turnabout. Five years ago, Indha Adde was
one of Al Qaeda and the Shabab's key paramilitary allies
and a commander of one of the most powerful Islamic
factions in Somalia fighting against foreign forces and
the US-backed Somali government. He openly admits to
having sheltered some of the most notorious Al Qaeda
figures--including Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, the alleged
mastermind of the 1998 bombings of the US Embassies in
Kenya and Tanzania--and to deceiving the CIA in order to
protect the men. (Fazul was killed in June in Mogadishu.)

"The CIA failed to convince me to work with them," Indha
Adde recalls of his meetings in Somalia, Kenya and Dubai
with agency operatives beginning in 2004, when, he says,
he met the CIA's East Africa chief in the Emirates. "They
offered me money, they offered funding for the region I
was controlling, they offered me influence and power in
Somalia through US cooperation, but I refused all those
offers." At the time, Indha Adde--like many Muslims around
the globe--viewed the United States as "arrogant" and on a
crusade against Islam. "Personally, I thought of even
Osama [bin Laden] himself as a good man who only wanted
the implementation of Islamic law," he tells me at one of
his homes in Mogadishu.

Yusuf Mohamed Siad was not always known just as Indha
Adde. As one of the main warlords who divided and
destroyed Somalia during the civil war that raged through
the 1990s, he brutally took control of the Lower Shabelle
region, which was overwhelmingly populated by a rival
clan, earning him the moniker "The Butcher." There are
allegations that he ran drug and weapons trafficking
operations from the Merca port. Then, as the religious and
political winds began to shift in Somalia after 9/11, he
remade himself into an Islamic sheik of sorts in the
mid-2000s and vowed to fight foreign invaders, including
rival warlords funded and directed by the CIA.

Perhaps more than any other figure, Indha Adde embodies
the mind-boggling constellation of allegiances and
double-crosses that has marked Somalia since its last
stable government fell in 1991. And his current role
encapsulates the contradictions of the country's present:
he is a warlord who believes in Sharia law, is friendly
with the CIA, and takes money and weapons from AMISOM.
There are large parts of Mogadishu that are not accessible
without his permission, and he controls one of the largest
militias and possesses more technicals (truck-mounted
heavy automatic weapons) in the city than any other

While the United States and other Western powers have
spent hundreds of millions of dollars on arms, training
and equipment for the Ugandan and Burundian militaries
under the auspices of AMISOM, the Somali military remains
underfunded and under-armed. Its soldiers are poorly paid,
highly undisciplined and, at the end of the day, more
loyal to their clans than to the central government.
That's where Indha Adde's rent-a-militia comes in.

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