Mogadishu, Somalia — A drone strike on Sunday authorized by Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmaajo targeted the leadership and senior members of a group known as the Amniyat, the intelligence and logistics wing of al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group, Harakat al-Shabaab al-Muhajideen. The drone strike which was conducted by a U.S. operated MQ-9 predator drone reportedly killed up to eight of the Amniyat and there is a rumor floating around that the most notorious commander of al-Shabaab’s intelligence wing, Abdirahman Mohamed Warsame, also known as Mahad Karate was finally killed in Somalia’s latest attempt to “cut the head off” the terror group’s leadership. (Note: Karate is his chosen nickname. There is no further explanation other than he liked it.)
The drone strike which targeted a compound on the outskirts of the town of Sakow, within the al-Shabaab held Middle Jubba region in the Lower Shabelle reportedly killed eight al-Shabaab members. The Somali President in a statement confirmed the strike did in fact destroy an Amniyat command and control outpost and was a “direct response to al-Shabab actions.” Which Farmaajo may be referring to al-Shabaab’s recent bloody raid on a Puntland State army post in northeastern Somalia which reportedly claimed the lives of 61 which Puntland State military officials claimed the majority killed were civilians.
The United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) also confirmed that it had a hand in the strike as well in a press release stating that, “U.S. forces, in cooperation with the Government of Somalia, are conducting operations against al-Shabaab in Somalia to degrade the al-Qaeda affiliate’s ability to recruit, train and plot external terror attacks throughout the region and in America.”
However both the Somali government and AFRICOM have remained quiet to the rumors that Amniyat’s key leader, Mahad Karate, was the intended recipient of a U.S. made AGM-114 Hellfire missile.
Karate is no stranger to violence and killing, which makes him no stranger to U.S. Special Operations commandos of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). Karate and his Amniyat have been suspected of committing a multitude of assassinations, suicide bombings, and several major attacks throughout East Africa. One such attack that the Amniyat is suspected to have financed was the nightmare attack on civilians at the upscale Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya killing up to 67. This prompted JSOC’s SEAL Team 6 to execute a raid on a compound in the town of Barawe along the southern coast of Somalia belonging to a Kenyan terrorist with ties to al-Shabaab known as Abdukadir Mohamed Abdukadir, also known as Ikrima.
However, that “snatch and grab” mission which was designed to capture Ikrima went south quickly as the commandos of SEAL Team 6 once on shore were compromised by an overwhelming al-Shabaab security detail not anticipated by the assault force. Al-Shabaab reinforcements arrived so quickly that the elite SEAL Team commandos were rapidly out-gunned had to abandon the mission. These al-Shabaab fighters that massed on the commandos were rumored to be none other than Karate’s own security force that accompanied Karate to a secret meeting at Ikrima’s beach house.
Karate also had a hand in another cross Kenyan border attack in April 2015 where gunman believed to be apart of the terrorist group al-Hijra, the al-Shabaab wing within Kenya, stormed the Garissa University College killing 148 non-Muslim students. This brought a $5 million dollar bounty on Karate’s head from the U.S. Department of Justice shortly afterward. Karate went underground yet still ran his Amniyat operatives with brutal efficiency conducting sporadic albeit deadly attacks against Somali and African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops within the Lower Shabelle region of southern Somalia.
Then in 2016 the Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) Department of Military Intelligence brazenly announced that after intense interrogations of several captured Amniyat operatives KDF snipers inserted into the town of Sakow killed Karate with a well placed shot to his vehicle’s wheel as he was fleeing from a failed KDF air strike in which the vehicle ‘flipped’ then the KDF snipers quickly shot dead all the occupants within the vehicle and disappeared into the jungle after making the kills.
Al-Shabaab never confirmed nor denied this claim, most likely due to laughing too hard at such a Hollywood war movie like plot the Kenyan military was trying to sell. Karate most assuredly survived the failed air-strike conducted by Kenyan forces and earned him a spot in the “Teflon Jihadi” hall of fame.
Fast forward to May 2017 where SEAL Team 6 was once again tapped to conduct a “kill/capture” raid on a camp in southern Somalia where several top regional commanders of al-Shabaab were suspected to be holed-up. The raid in which local witnesses described “black helicopters” circling the al-Shabaab base camp firing heavy machine guns into and around the perimeter just prior to the joint special operations forces putting boots on ground was met with heavy resistance. That heavy resistance claimed the life of Senior Chief Petty Officer Kyle Milliken, making Chief Milliken the first American casualty in Somalia since 1993.
It was again rumored that Karate, the “Teflon Jihadi” was known to be hiding there and SEAL Team 6 just missed him.
Whether or not Mahad Karate, the elusive commander of the sinister al-Shabaab facilitator wing known as Amniyat has finally been killed remains a mystery. And Somali President Farmaajo and his international coalition remaining tight-lipped about the rumor that he was the main target and of his death is all the more telling. Right now reports from Sakow are indicating that al-Shabaab has sent a large force to the bomb-site and has secured it, halting any sort of ground battle damage assessments the Somali National Army would love to conduct. It is likely confirmation of Karate’s death may honestly never happen, and al-Shabaab is starting to feel the pressure of President Farmaajo’s promise of all out war on the terror group that will hopefully grind them into submission thus halting the killing that Somalia so richly deserves.
Feature image courtesy of: Garowe Online