Hassan Dahir Aweys

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Hassan Dahir Aweys
حسن طاهر أويس
Born 1935 (age 78–79)
Dhusa Mareb, Somalia
Nationality Somali
Ethnicity Somali
Occupation former colonel
militant
Title Former spiritual leader of Harakat al-Shabaab Mujahedeen

Hassan Dahir Aweys (Somali: Sheekh Xasan Daahir Aweys, Arabic: الشيخ حسن طاهر أويس‎) (born 1935[1][2]) is a Somali political figure who was added to the U.S. government's list of terrorists in 2001.[3] Aweys was the head of the 90-member shura council of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) of Somalia [4] and was viewed as one of the more radical leaders of the Union, which promoted shari'a and directed the militias that took control of the Somali capital of Mogadishu in June 2006. An eight-member executive committee was headed by the more moderate Sharif Ahmed,[5] although the BBC stated that he was the "real power" of the organization.[2] Aweys resigned from the ICU on 28 December 2006, at the end of ICU rule in Mogadishu.

He hails from the Habargidir/Ayr subclan within the Hawiye clan.[6]

History[edit]

During the regime of Siad Barre, Aweys was a colonel in the Somali National Army (SNA) during the 1977 Ogaden War against Ethiopia[7] during which he was decorated for bravery.[8]

He is a member of the Ayr (clan), which is part of the Habar Gidir group, which is a Hawiye sub-clan.[9]

1994–2002: Al-Itihaad al-Islamiya (AIAI)[edit]

In the 1990s, Aweys headed al-Itihaad al-Islamiya (AIAI),[10] an Islamist group that was responsible for terrorist attacks on hotels and markets in Addis Ababa, Dire Dawa, Jijiga, and Harar,[11] and was originally funded by al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden which was linked to the 1998 United States embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.[12]

Dahir Aweys was part of AIAI leadership which took over large parts of Somalia immediately following the collapse of the Somali Central Government. From 1991 to 1998, AIAI's Gedo Region branch led by former Somali High Court Judge Mohamed Haji Yusuf maintained formidable forces. Gedo district seats of Lugh, Balad Hawo and Burdubo were all run by IAIA forces. Lugh was entirely governed by AIAI. At the time, there were other regional military authority Somali National Front (SNF) running parts of Gedo. Dahir Aweys settled in Lower Shabelle when some disputes came of light in Lugh's Al-Itahad leadership.

On 18 September 1996, the Ethiopian army invaded Lugh and forced out most of the AIAI forces. The following two years, the war front changed into what was later to become the Mountains War of Gedo. And the war this time was between SNF and AIAI. The Ethiopian regime just armed SNF militias. Ethiopians gave SNF an estimated 800 to 1000 small arms and around a dozen heavy weapons. The Gedo war ended when both sides agreed on a truce, and general peace with a peace conference held in El Ade on December 1998 was concluded.

AIAI was destroyed later in the 1990s by a force led by Abdullahi Yusuf and funded by Ethiopia.[2]

On 7 November 2001, Aweys was named a 'supporter of terrorism' in a supplement of Executive Order 13224 of United States President George W. Bush.[13] Aweys is also on the terrorist list of the United States Department of State.[14]

When Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed was elected President in 2004, Aweys declared that he would support the new leader, even if he pursued former elements of al-Itihaad, as long as the country was ruled according to Islam.

2004–2006: Islamic Courts Union (ICU)[edit]

After the defeat of AIAI Aweys played a key role in setting up a system of courts according to the shari'a by local businessmen desperate for order, becoming its spiritual head. The Courts brought relative stability to areas under its control, after years of turmoil. The Courts' notion of order was strict, including stonings for serious crimes such as rape and murder. At first it only controlled the area of north Mogadishu, but it gained support from many Somali's following the random violence committed by the warlords who controlled southern Mogadishu. Beginning 2004, eleven of these courts folded into an umbrella organization, the Islamic Courts Union, which fielded a formidable militia. A UN report in early 2006 stated that Aweys was receiving military support from Eritrea, as part of the ongoing conflict between it and Ethiopia, though Eritrea denies the claim.[2]

Following the Union's victory in Mogadishu in June 2006, Aweys rose to be the head of the shura committee, replacing Sharif Sheik Ahmed.[15] The Courts' second-in-command Sheikh Abdulakdir Ali stated day-to-day matters would be handled by Sharif Sheikh Ahmed's executive committee.[4][16]

On July 21, 2006, Hassan Aweys, in a radio broadcast, urged holy war on Ethiopian troops stationed in Baidoa to support the UN-backed government of Somalia.[17]

On November 17, 2006, the Sheik spoke to Shabelle Radio about the formation of a Greater Somalia, uniting the Somali people scattered across the Horn of Africa. He stated, "We will leave no stone unturned to integrate our Somali brothers in Kenya and Ethiopia and restore their freedom to live with their ancestors in Somalia."[18] He is wanted by interpol for terrorism charges and there is reward of US$5,000,000 on him and his family

Regional concern had been heightened since November 2, 2006, when the US Embassy in Nairobi issued a terrorist warning of suicide attack threats in Kenya and Ethiopia.[19]

On December 19, 2006, he received medical treatment in Egypt just before the beginning of the war against the UN-backed Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and Ethiopian troops.[20]

On December 21, 2006, as the fighting intensified with Ethiopia, he took a flight to an undisclosed location with Yusuf Mohammed Siad Inda'ade, and rather than news of medical treatment, it was said he was on the hajj.[21]

On December 27, 2006, Aweys, along with a group of several hundred fighters from the Hizbul Shabaab wing of the ICU fled Mogadishu, presumably to the former AIAI base at Ras Kamboni.[22] On December 31, 2006, he vowed to fight on, and called for others to create an insurgency against the government. Meanwhile, a heavily armed column of government and Ethiopian troops advanced from Mogadishu through Lower Shabelle towards Kismayo. They reached Bulo Marer (Kurtun Warrey district) and were heading to Baravo.[23]

In January 2007, his whereabouts remained generally unknown, but it was believed he was ailing.[20]

2007–2009: Alliance for the Liberation of Somalia (ARS)[edit]

In September 2007, he emerged in Eritrea forming a new rebellion.

The Djibouti peace-talks between the ARS and the TFG, however, led to a split in the organisation, with the Djibouti-based "moderate" faction led by Sheikh Sharif Ahmed eventually signing the agreement and joining the TFG and the Eritrea-based "hard-liner" faction led by Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys refusing to do so and advocating continuation armed resistance.[24]

2009–2010: Hizbul Islam (HI)[edit]

In early 2009, four major rebel groups, Sheikh Aweys' Asmara-based wing of the ARS, Sheikh Hassan Abdullah Hersi al-Turki's Ras Kamboni Brigade, Jabhatul Islamiya and Muaskar Anole joined together to form a new group called Hizbul Islam, vowing to continue the rebellion against the new government of Sheikh Shair Ahmed.[25] Although the group was initially led by Sheikh Omar Iman Abubakar, he stepped down on 26 May 2009 in favour of Sheikh Aweys taking the position of chairman.[26]

On April 23, 2009, Aweys returned To Somalia declaring a war on the African Peace Keeping Forces AMISOM[27] He made clear that he would not meet Somali President sheikh Sharif Ahmed saying:

"Mr Sharif's government was not elected by the Somali people and it is not representing the interests the Somali people,"[28]

He also accused the President of being an instrument of the International Community[28] and on 9 May 2009, Hizbul Islam and al-Shabaab and tried to topple the Government of President Shiikh Shariif Shiikh Ahmed[29] by opening the 2009 Battle of Mogadishu, which lasted for months, in which the Islamists managed to gain territory but failed ultimately to topple the regime. Mogadishu residents reported that they saw foreign fighters in the frontline of the battle, raising concerns that Somalia may become the next terrorist safe haven after Iraq and Afghanistan.[29]

In June 2009, it was rumoured he had been killed during the Battle of Wabho. He later dismissed reports that he was killed or heavily injured.[30]

After the Battle of Kisimayo (2009) the group was involved in an unsuccessful power-struggle with al-Shabaab in which Hizbul Islam was ultimately forced to surrender,[31] after which they merged with al-Shabaab on December 20, 2010 under the banner of al-Shabaab, dropping the name Hizbul Islam.[9][32]

2010–2013: Al-Shabaab (HSM)[edit]

Since joining al-Shabaab, he was involved in the power struggle between Sheikh Mukhtar Robow (Abu Mansoor) and Sheikh Moktar Ali Zubeyr (Godane), during which he supported Abu Mansoor in demanding that Godane would step down as the group's Emir.[33] Sheikh Aweys had been described as al-Shabaab's spiritual leader.[34][35]

In June 2013, Aweys was taken into custody by Somali security forces,[36] denoting the victory of the hardliners in al-Shabab.[37] However, the nature of his arrest—initially being promised talks with government officials and then being roughed up by soldiers when arrested instead—has created concern that it could cause the Hawiye clan of the president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Aweys to split.[38]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys
  2. ^ a b c d Winter, Joseph, Profile: Somalia's Islamist leader, BBC News, 27 June 2006
  3. ^ http://fpc.state.gov/documents/organization/150770.pdf
  4. ^ a b SOMALIA: Islamic courts set up consultative council, Integrated Regional Information Networks, 26 June 2006
  5. ^ 'Radical' heads new Somali body, BBC News, 25 June 2006
  6. ^ Hoehne, Markus Virgil. "Counter-terrorism in Somalia: How external interference helped to produce militant Islamism". p. 13. Retrieved 16 May 2012. "As introduced earlier, Hassan Dahir Aweys (Hawiye/Habr Gedir/Ayr/Ayaanle) was a colonel in the Somali army who participated in the Ogaden war between Somalia and Ethiopia (1977–1978)." 
  7. ^ Rice, Xan (26 December 2006). "Retreat fails to quell fears of long war in Horn of Africa". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 8 January 2007. 
  8. ^ "Somalia’s High Stakes Power Struggle". The Council on Foreign Relations. 7 August 2006. Retrieved 8 January 2007. 
  9. ^ a b "Profile: Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys". Critical Threats. 3 August 2012. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  10. ^ Profile: Somalia's Islamic Courts, BBC News, 6 June 2006
  11. ^ "Ethio-Eritrean Factors in the Somalian Saga". Addis Fortune. Retrieved 15 January 2007. [dead link]
  12. ^ U.S. returning to a nightmare called Somalia, SF Gate, 16 December 2001
  13. ^ Suspected Terrorist List, list maintained by the U.S. Commonwealth of Massachusetts
  14. ^ Meet the Press U.S. Senator Russ Feingold calls Aweys "an al-Qaeda operative or somebody that is connected with al-Qaeda." 25 June 2006
  15. ^ "Militant leader emerges in Somalia". New York Times. 2006-06-25. Retrieved 2007-01-08. 
  16. ^ Ethiopia says Somalia 'a threat', BBC News, 28 June 2006
  17. ^ "Somali Militant Urges Holy War on Ethiopia". Associated Press. 2006-07-21. Retrieved 2007-01-15. 
  18. ^ Islamic leader says Somali regions in Kenya, Ethiopia should be part of Somalia, The San Diego Union-Tribune, 18 November 2006
  19. ^ "Islamic Leader Urges Greater Somalia". Associated Press. 2006-11-18. Retrieved 2007-01-15. 
  20. ^ a b "West 'backing the wrong horse' in Mogadishu peace initiatives". The East African. 2007-01-29. Archived from the original on 2007-02-02. Retrieved 2007-01-29. 
  21. ^ "Somalia: Top Islamist officials leave for unknown destination". SomaliNet. 2006-12-21. Retrieved 2007-01-08. 
  22. ^ "Former Members of Radical Somali Group Give Details of Their Group". Voice of America. 2007-01-06. Retrieved 2007-01-08. 
  23. ^ Yusuf, Aweys Osman (2006-12-31). "Islamists vow a rebellious war as Ethiopian troops head to Kismayu". shabelle.net. Archived from the original on 2007-03-03. Retrieved 2007-01-05. 
  24. ^ ARS Central Committee conference opens in Djibouti
  25. ^ allafrica Islamists Want to Keep Fighting Against the New Government
  26. ^ 7 Killed in Violence, Aweys Crowned Hizbul Islam Chief
  27. ^ DPA (23 April 2009). "Prominent Islamist returns to Somalia after two-year exile". Retrieved 1 May 2009. 
  28. ^ a b Mohamed, Mohamed (28 May 2009). "Somalia's kingmaker returns". BBC News. Retrieved 4 May 2009. 
  29. ^ a b "UN Somalia envoy accuses Islamist of coup attempt". 14 May 2009. Retrieved 18 May 2009. 
  30. ^ Aweys Resurfaces to Dispel Claims of Being Wounded
  31. ^ "Hassan Dahir Aweys of Hisbul Islam leader joins Al-shabab militias". Mareeg. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  32. ^ Al-Shabaab and Hizbul-Islam Officially Join Together
  33. ^ "Al-Shabaab Leader Admits Split". Somalia Report. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  34. ^ Leftie, Peter (15 November 2011). "Somalia: Missile Raid Targeted Top Shabaab Leaders". allAfrica.com. Retrieved 2011. 
  35. ^ "Three al-Shabaab feared dead". Monitor. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  36. ^ "Prominent militant arrested in blow to Somali Islamists". Reuters. 26 June 2013. 
  37. ^ "Will Somali Islamist purge strengthen al-Shabab?". BBC News. 4 July 2013. 
  38. ^ http://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21580523-new-and-much-lauded-president-finding-it-hard-bury-old-divisions-are Somalia and its Shabab: Are the Islamists truly on the ropes?

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