Ahlu Sunna Waljama'a

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Ahlu Sunna Waljama'a
Participant in Somali Civil War
Flag of Ahlu Sunnah Waljamaca.svg
Active1991 – present
Group(s)Multi-clan, though primarily Habar Gidir, Dir,[1] & Marehan
LeadersMohamed Ali Hassan (Former Chief minister of Galmudug) Sheikh Ibrahim Sheikh Hassan (Head of State) (Guureeye) (Chairman)[2]
Shaykh Mahmud Shaykh Hasan Farah (Spiritual Leader)
Omar Mo’allim Nur (Commander in Banaadir)[3]
Area of operationsGalgudug, Hiran, Gedo, Bakool
AlliesSomalia Federal Government of Somalia
Jubbaland2.png Raskamboni Movement
Opponent(s)ShababFlag.svg Harakat al-Shabaab Mujahideen
Flag of Jihad.svg Al-Qaeda

Ahlu Sunna Waljama'a (ASWJ) (Somali: Ahlu Suna Waljamaaca) is a Somalia-based paramilitary group consisting of moderate Sufis opposed to radical Islamist groups such as Al-Shabaab. They are fighting to prevent strict Sharia and Wahhabism from being imposed, and protecting the local Sunni-Sufi traditions and generally moderate religious views.[5] During the civil war, the organization worked in cooperation with faction leader Mohamed Farrah Aidid.[6] The group has also received support from the Ethiopian government, and has been considered by some to be a tool for power projection and political influence for Ethiopia in Somalia. [7][8]


The Ahlu Sunna Waljama'a was formed in 1991 in opposition to jihadist groups before the existence of Al-Shabaab.[8]The group opposes hardline capital punishment or limb amputations advocated by extremist interpretations of Islam, as well as laws banning music and khat. They oppose the tearing down of religious shrines and stoning.

ASWJ won large victories in central Somalia and controlled the majority of southern Mudug, Gedo and Galgaduud,[5] as well as parts of Hiran, Middle Shebelle, and Bakool.

On March 15, 2011, the Somali transitional government and Ahlu Sunna Waljama'a signed an agreement giving the militia control of five ministries, in addition to diplomatic posts and senior positions within the national security apparatus.[7] In exchange, the militia would lend military support against al-Shabab.[7]

On January 18, 2014, Ahlu Sunna Waljama'a's leadership objected to the new Cabinet lineup named by federal Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed. ASWJ Chairperson Sheik Ibrahim Hassan Gureye argued that many of the new ministerial positions went to unsuccessful officials from previous administrations, so the outcome of their reappointments would likely be the same.[9]

On January 18, 2018, Ahlu Sunna merged its forces and administration into Galmudug State's regional government and security forces.[10]


On April 24, 2011, Ahlu Sunna Waljama'a recaptured Dhuusamareeb in the Galguduud region from Al-Shabaab.[11]

On April 28, 2011, Ahlu Sunna Waljama'a backed by Transitional Federal Government soldiers were fighting against Al-Shabaab in the town of Luuq in the Gedo region. 27 Ahlu Sunna Waljama'a- and 8 TFG soldier were killed during the battle. Al-Shabaab casualties were unknown.[12]

On May 3, 2011, several hours of fighting between Ahlu Sunna Waljama'a backed by TFG soldiers against Al-Shabaab took place in the town of Garbaharey in the Gedo region. The town fell into the hands of Ahlu Sunna Waljama'a and TFG. 3 Ahlu Sunna Waljama'a- and 23 Al-Shabaab fighters were killed in action.[13] During the fighting Ahlu Sunna Waljama'a's chairman of Gedo region Sheikh Hassan Sheikh Ahmed (aka Qoryoley) was wounded. He died in a Nairobi hospital 2 days later.[14][15]

On March 1, 2012, heavy clashes between Ahlu Sunna Waljama'a backed by TFG soldiers and Al-Shabaab fighters took place in Garbaharey town, the capital of Gedo region in Southern Somalia. Government officials said that Ahlu Sunnah Waljama'a and TFG fighters successfully repelled Al-Shabaab attacks on government bases throughout the night of February 29 and March 1.

On February 11, 2015, a dispute erupted in the town of Guricel, 400 km north of Mogadishu. The town is in Galgaduud, west of Dhuasamareb. The dispute took place between Ahlu Sunna Waljama'a and Somali National Army fighters, and led to at least 16 dead (three of whom were civilians) and 14 wounded. The dispute was apparently related to a local power struggle between politicians meeting in Dhuasamareb, in the north-central Galgadud region. The soldiers then withdrew from the town.[16] A counterattack involving shelling from both sides was organized the following day with the soldiers withdrawing after 9 combatants were killed.[17] Ahlu Sunna spokesman Abdinoor Mohamed Hussein later clarified that the dispute was not between Somali government troops and Ahlu Sunna, but instead between Ahlu Sunna and two particular state officials, Mahad Mohamed Salad, the State Minister for the Presidency, and Mohamed Roble Jimale 'Gobale', Commander of Brigade 3 in Mogadishu. Ahlu Sunna accused the two men of misusing and hiding behind federal manpower and resources to settle personal grievances with the group.[18] On February 14, a delegation of politicians and traditional elders led by former president of Galmudug regional state Mohamed Ahmed Ma'alim brokered a ceasefire between the feuding parties. The unconditional truce was slated to be followed by reconciliation talks amongst the local stakeholders.[19] On 5 March, Minister of Defense Abdulkadir Sheikh Dini and Ahlu Sunna leader Sheikh Mohamed Shakir signed a five-point joint agreement stipulating that there would be a bilateral ceasefire, troops would retreat without any offensives or arms use, government forces would be garrisoned in Dhusamareeb while Ahlu Sunna troops would be stationed in Guriel, displaced local residents should return to their houses, and a reconciliation conference would be launched within a ten-day window period.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Georg-Sebastian Holzer. "Somalia's new religious war". Isn.ethz.ch. Retrieved 15 October 2014.
  2. ^ "Somalia: Ahlu Sunna – We resolved our antenatal disagreements". Shabelle Media Network. March 31, 2011. Archived from the original on July 23, 2011. Retrieved March 31, 2011.
  3. ^ "Gulf of Aden Security Review". Jane’s. December 16, 2010. Archived from the original on 20 December 2016. Retrieved March 29, 2011.
  4. ^ "Report of the Monitoring Group on Somalia pursuant to Security Council resolution 1853" (PDF). United Nations. 2008. p. 12. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  5. ^ a b Mohamed Mohamed (2009-06-08). "Somali rage at grave desecration". BBC News. BBC Somali Service. Retrieved 2010-04-01. Most Somalis are Sufi Muslims, who do not share the strict Saudi Arabian-inspired Wahhabi interpretation of Islam with the hardline al-Shabab group. They embrace music, dancing and meditation and are appalled at the desecration of the graves.... The umbrella group Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama (Sufi Sects in Somalia) has condemned the actions of what they call the ideology of modern Wahhabism and the desecrations of graves. They see Wahhabism as foreign and ultimately un-Islamic.
  6. ^ "Counter-terrorism in Somalia: How external interference helped to produce militant Islamism" (PDF). Webarchive.ssrc.org. Retrieved 15 October 2014.
  7. ^ a b c "Militants join Somali government". The Boston Globe. NY Times Co. Associated Press. 2010-03-16. ISSN 0743-1791. Retrieved 2010-07-23.
  8. ^ a b Felbab-Brown, Vanda (April 14, 2020). The Problem with Militias in Somalia (PDF) (Report). Brookings Institution. Retrieved May 3, 2020.
  9. ^ "Somalia: Ahlusuna Rejects the New Council of Ministers of Somalia". allAfrica.com. Retrieved 15 October 2014.
  10. ^ http://radiodalsan.com/en/aswj-galmudug-merger-will-boost-war-on-alshabaab-farmaajo-says/[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ "» Sunatimes.com - Sunatimes - News, Sports, Videos and Music". Sunatimes.com. Retrieved 15 October 2014.
  12. ^ [1] Archived October 9, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ "Clashes leave 26 dead in SW Somalia". Presstv.ir. Retrieved 15 October 2014.
  14. ^ [2] Archived October 5, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ "Al-Shabab kills rival leader in Somalia". Taghrib News Agency. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  16. ^ "Deadly Clashes". Archived from the original on 2015-02-14. Retrieved 2015-02-12.
  17. ^ [3]
  18. ^ "Ahlu-Sunna Waljama'a: State minister and Goobaale are leading Soldiers fighting against us". Goobjoog. 13 February 2015. Retrieved 13 February 2015.
  19. ^ "Former president of Gulmudug State: "Guri-El warring sides have accepted truce"". Goobjoog. 14 February 2015. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  20. ^ "Somali government reaches agreement with Ahlu-Sunna Waljamea". Goobjoog. 6 March 2015. Retrieved 6 March 2015.

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