Mohamed Farrah Aidid

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Mohamed Farrah Aidid
محمد فرح عيديد
Personal details
Born(1934-12-15)15 December 1934
Mudug, Italian Somaliland[1]
Died1 August 1996(1996-08-01) (aged 61)
Mogadishu, Somalia
Political partyUnited Somali Congress/Somali National Alliance (USC/SNA)
Spouse(s)Khadija Gurhan
Alma materM. V. Frunze Military Academy

Mohamed Farrah Hassan Aidid (Somali: Maxamed Faarax Xasan Caydiid, Arabic: محمد فرح حسن عيديد; 15 December 1934 – 1 August 1996) was a Somali warlord and militia leader.[2] A former general and diplomat, he was the chairman of the United Somali Congress (USC) and later led the Somali National Alliance (SNA). Along with other armed opposition groups, he succeeded in overthrowing and exiled President Mohamed Siad Barre's socialist regime from Somalia during the Somali Civil War that broke out in the early 1990s.

In 1992, Aidid attacked United Nations troops, causing him to be named the Worlds first Wanted Man of the Unified Task Force. After UN peacekeepers withdrew in 1993, 18 American soldiers were killed by Aidid's forces,[3] which also attacked peacekeepers, incited violence, and committed crimes against humanity at Aidid's behest.[4]

Early years[edit]

Aidid was born in 1934 in Mudug, Italian Somaliland.[5] He was educated in Rome and Moscow and served in the Italian colonial police force in the 1950s. Hailing from Reer Jalaf, Habar Gidir, Hawiye Clan. He later joined the Somali National Army.[6]

Aideed was a highly qualified officer and quirky person who was selected to study advanced post graduate military science at the M. V. Frunze Military Academy (Военная академия им. М. В. Фрунзе) in the Soviet Union, an elite institution reserved for the most qualified officers of the Warsaw Pact armies and their allies.[7]

In 1969, a few days after the assassination of Somalia's second president Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, a military junta led by Major General Mohamed Siad Barre staged a bloodless coup d'état. Aidid at the time was serving as Army Commander of the 26th Division based in Hargeisa and was recalled to Mogadishu to lead the troops guarding the burial of the deceased President. He quickly fell out of favour with the new regime's leaders and was subsequently detained along with Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed. Aidid was eventually released from prison six years afterwards to take part in the 1977–78 war against Ethiopia over the disputed Ogaden region.[8]

He later served as an advisor to President Barre and as Somalia's ambassador to India, before being appointed intelligence chief.[9][10]

United Somali Congress[edit]

After a fallout from the unsuccessful Ogaden campaign of the late 1970s, the Barre administration began arresting government and military officials under suspicion of participation in the abortive 1978 coup d'état.[11][12] Most of the people who had allegedly helped plot the putsch were summarily executed.[13] However, several officials managed to escape abroad and started to form the first of various dissident groups dedicated to ousting Barre's regime by force.[14]

By the late 1980s, Barre's regime had become increasingly unpopular. The State took an increasingly hard line, and insurgencies, encouraged by Ethiopia's communist Derg administration, sprang up across the country. This eventually led to the outbreak of the civil war, the gradual breakup of the Somali Armed Forces, and the toppling of Barre's government on 26 January 1991. Many of the opposition groups subsequently began competing for influence in the power vacuum that followed the ouster of Barre's regime. Armed factions led by United Somali Congress (USC) commanders General Aidid and Ali Mahdi Mohamed, in particular, clashed as each sought to exert power over the capital.[15][12]

United Nations Security Council Resolution 733 and UN Security Council Resolution 746 led to the creation of the UNOSOM I after the dissolution of the central government. United Nations Security Council Resolution 794 was unanimously passed on 3 December 1992, which approved a coalition led by the United States. Forming the Unified Task Force (UNITAF), the alliance was given the task of assuring security until humanitarian efforts were transferred to the UN. Landing in 1993, the UN peacekeeping coalition started the two-year United Nations Operation in Somalia II (UNOSOM II) primarily in the south.[16]

Crimes of USC[edit]

Upon capturing Mogadishu from the Somali National Army, USC militia men allegedly set on a rampage in what was described as clan cleansing. According to eyewitnesses and survivor reports, USC militia men systematically targeted Somalis based on their clans. Individuals were hunted down, tortured, mutilated, expressing joy at being able to gang-rape their female relatives in front of them.[17] From what was supposed to be a take over of the capital city, now became to some, a motivation of clan animosity. Extreme brutality such as torture, rape, looting of properties were all part of the clan cleansing campaign.[17]

Gang rape was a terrorizing factor and a systematic approach in driving out populations, this was heavily carried out by the USC, there are accounts of eight girls who were abducted from their homes the night before, had been cut with knives and raped. They were left and found the following morning at 5:30 am where the girls could barely move.[18]

The harrowing rape cases that were reported led the militia leader Aidid to issue a public apology, in a video that was posted shows Aidid apologizing for some of the brutalities carried out by his militia men. This apology can be seen as acceptance and acknowledgement of the crimes his militiamen committed on the Somali People.[19]

Presidency declaration[edit]

Aidid subsequently declared himself President of Somalia in June 1995.[20] However, his declaration received no international recognition, as his rival Ali Mahdi Muhammad had already been elected interim president at a conference in Djibouti and recognized as such by the international community.[21]

Consequently, Aidid's faction continued its quest for hegemony in the south. In September 1995, militia forces loyal to him attacked the city of Baidoa, killing 10 local residents and capturing at least 20 foreign aid workers.[22]


On 24 July 1996, Aidid and his men clashed with the forces of former allies Ali Mahdi Muhammad and Osman Ali Atto. Atto was a former supporter and financier of Aidid, and of the same subclan. Atto is alleged to have masterminded the defeat of Aidid.[23] Aidid suffered a gunshot wound in the ensuing battle. He later died from a heart attack on August 1, either during or after surgery to treat his injuries.[24]

Other officers allegedly targeted by Atto include General Talan. In its 2000 Country Report for Somalia, the U.S. Department of State asserted that the killing of Yusuf Tallan, a former general under the Barre regime, was connected to Osman Ali Atto "because of Atto's business deals in the north and the possibility of a deal between Somaliland President Egal and Atto in order to destabilize the south."[25]


During the events leading up to the civil war, Aidid's wife Khadiga Gurhan sought asylum in Canada in 1989, moving the couple's four children with her. Local media shortly afterwards alleged that she had returned to Somalia for a five-month stay while still receiving welfare payments. Gurhan admitted in an interview to collecting welfare and having briefly traveled to Somalia in late 1991. However, it was later brought to light that she had been granted landed immigrant status in June 1991, thereby making her a legal resident of Canada. Additionally, Aidid's rival President Barre had been overthrown in January of that year. This altogether ensured that Gurhan's five-month trip would not have undermined her initial 1989 claim of refugee status. An official probe by Canadian immigration officials into the allegations also concluded that she had obtained her landing papers through normal legal processes.[26]

Hussein Mohamed Farrah, son of General Aidid, emigrated to the United States when he was 17 years old. Staying 16 years in the country, he eventually became a naturalized citizen and later a United States Marine who served in Somalia. Two days after his father's death, the Somali National Alliance declared Farrah as the new president, although he too was not internationally recognized as such.[27]


  1. ^ Daniels, Christopher (May 7, 2019). Somali Piracy and Terrorism in the Horn of Africa. Time. Retrieved 2020-03-03.
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  5. ^ Pecora, Thomas (May 7, 2019). Guardian: Life in the Crosshairs of the CIA's War on Terror. Time.
  6. ^ Purvis, Andrew (June 28, 1993). "Wanted: Warlord No. 1". Time. Retrieved 2007-01-02.
  7. ^ Ahmed III, Abdul. "Brothers in Arms Part I" (PDF). WardheerNews. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 May 2012. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  8. ^ United Nations. Dept. of Public Information (1996). The Blue Helmets: A Review of United Nations Peace-keeping. United Nations, Dept. of Public Information. p. 287. ISBN 9211006112.
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  11. ^ ARR: Arab Report and Record, (Economic Features, ltd.: 1978), p.602.
  12. ^ a b Ahmed III, Abdul. "Brothers in Arms Part Forces I" (PDF). WardheerNews. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 3, 2012. Retrieved February 28, 2012.
  13. ^ New People Media Centre, New People, Issues 94–105, (New People Media Centre: Comboni Missionaries, 2005).
  14. ^ Nina J. Fitzgerald, Somalia: Issues, History, and Bibliography, (Nova Publishers: 2002), p.25.
  15. ^ Library Information and Research Service, The Middle East: Abstracts and Index, Volume 2, (Library Information and Research Service: 1999), p.327.
  16. ^ Ken Rutherford, Humanitarianism Under Fire: The US and UN Intervention in Somalia, Kumarian Press, July 2008 ISBN 1-56549-260-9
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  20. ^ "President Aidid's Somalia". September 1995. Archived from the original on 2009-07-16. Retrieved 2007-02-04.
  21. ^ Djibouti Conference Archived 2012-03-16 at the Wayback Machine.
  22. ^ Associated Press (19 September 1995). "Aidid troops kill Somalis, capture city". The Register-Guard. Retrieved 16 May 2013.
  23. ^ Indian Ocean Newsletter, 27 April 1996 and Indian Ocean Newsletter, 4 May 1996
  24. ^ Serrill, Michael (12 August 1996), "Dead by the Sword", Time Magazine, retrieved 2011-03-19
  25. ^ "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2000: Somalia". US Department of State. 2001-02-23. Retrieved 2007-01-14.
  26. ^ Anderson, Scott (4 November 1993). "Tory probe into warlord's wife too late to save Lewis". Eye Weekly. Archived from the original on 28 October 2014. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
  27. ^ Kampeas, Ron (2 November 2002). "From Marine to warlord: The strange journey of Hussein Farrah Aidid". Associated Press. Retrieved 2007-02-28.