In the first public confirmation of its kind, Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) confirmed for SOFREP that their elite CIA-trained commando unit, Alpha Group, has conducted what was described as a “special[ized] target operation” in the area around the city of Baardheere, located in the Gedo region of southern Somalia. Senior members of Harakat-al-Shabaab were the main focus of the operation.
The headquarters spokesperson for the Somali intelligence agency also made one other fact very clear: This attack was personal. This raid was in retaliation for the failed attack al-Shabaab attempted earlier that day on Sunday, June 21st. On that day, al-Shabaab operatives drove a car filled with explosives into the front gate of one of NISA’s training facilities in the capital city of Mogadishu. Their intent was to detonate the vehicle in order to open the front gate so al-Shabaab fighters could gain entry into the compound and begin inflicting mayhem inside. However, elements of the NISA security forces were able to contain the attack to the gate, killing all of Shabaab’s saboteurs, while, sadly, losing one of their own in the process.
The NISA headquarters proclaimed, “It’s time to bring the war to them,” and called upon their elite U.S.-trained special forces unit known as the the Alpha Group. The commando group is based near the Aden Adde International Airport where they receive training from the Central Intelligence Agency and a secretive government-contracted private security company known as The Bancroft Group.
Since being tasked by the CIA to conduct specialized training, Bancroft has not only trained Somalia’s Alpha Group within the confines of their training compound adjacent to the Aden Adde International, but Ugandan Special Forces as well. SOFREP reported on Alpha Group capabilities back in October 2014, which ranged from direct-action assault missions on time-sensitive targets acquired through human intelligence gathering and possibly signal intelligence, such as intercepting cell phone communications, to key leader and VIP protection.
Alpha Group has no doubt also been trained in sensitive site exploitation (SSE), where specific items are taken from a target’s location, such as computer hard drives and other communications—both written and electronic—for further analysis. This has proven to pay huge dividends in developing targeting packets of certain persons of interest, as well as helping to populate targeting decks, which allows direct action or interdiction missions to be planned and executed.
Alpha Groups’ “retaliation target operation” was a meeting place in the al-Shabaab controlled Gedo region of southern Somalia known as Baardheere. This region, long known for having a large extremist presence, is where NISA intelligence operatives gathered information that confirmed senior members of al-Shabaab planned to have a high-level strategy meeting. There, those members planned to discuss when and where to activate the group’s various terror cells within the region to wreak havoc in both Somalia and Kenya by targeting civilians and government buildings in both countries. This came on the heels of al-Shabaab’s threat of a ‘Ramadan Offensive’ in a June 11th statement in which the Somali-based terror organization promised that they had, “Even bigger operations in mind for the coming days,” culminating on June 17th, the first day of the Muslim holiday of Ramadan.
The leadership of al-Shabaab has made good on their threat of attacks, commanding its fighters to attack Kenyan Defense Forces based in the northeastern Kenyan village of Baure in Lamu County and the National Intelligence and Security Agency’s training facilities in Mogadishu this past Sunday. In both attacks, the security forces were able to hold their own and gain fire superiority. The attacking elements of al-Shabaab’s Ramadan operations have suffered heavy casualties and thus far have failed to achieve their goal of inflicting carnage, terror, and mass amounts of infrastructural damage upon Somali and Kenyan governments, security forces, and their citizens.
Initial reports from the Alpha Group commando raid in Baardheere indicated heavy casualties inflicted upon al-Shabaab fighters, to include a senior leader of the terror group. Unconfirmed reports also indicate that the commander of the Amniyat, the intelligence wing of al-Shabaab, Mahad Mohammed Ali or Mahad Karate, may have been among those senior leaders killed. According to the State Department, Mahad Karate “played a key role in the Amniyat, the wing of al-Shabaab responsible for the recent attack on Garissa University College in Kenya that resulted in nearly 150 deaths.”
The NISA headquarters spokesperson confirmed the death of senior Shabaab member Yusuf Hajii via their social media account, but not the death of Mahad Karate. NISA stated only that, “A number of senior members were captured, others killed,” and went on to say, “At this time, we can only confirm very senior [leadership] were targeted [and] killed in last night’s attack in Baardheere.” The death of Mahad Karate could be a huge blow to Harakat-al-Shabaab’s future, its leader Ahmed Diriye, and especially to the Amniyat, which is charged with gathering information, developing plans, approving and financing the final operation, and providing insurgents for attacks.
The NISA headquarters spokesperson declined to release the identities of the captured senior al-Shabaab leadership or further details of the raid to SOFREP, pending a press release being issued by the Somali Ministry of National Security as early as Monday.
(Featured image courtesy of tengrinews.kz)