Wednesday June 27, 2018
Mogadishu (HOL) - Al-Shabaab’s emir Ahmed Dirie better known by his nom de guerre, Abu Ubaidah, has reportedly died in Jilib town of southern Somalia, according to a senior military commander. If confirmed, Abu Ubaidah would be the group's third leader in thirteen
years, and the first not to be killed by a U.S. airstrike.
FILE- Ahmed Dirie (Abu Ubaidah) in the centre of the photo wearing a red kaffiyeh
Ismail Sheikh Isack, the commander of the 43rd battalion of Somali National Army (SNA) in an interview with Somali military-owned radio station said Ahmed Dirie died on Monday due to a kidney-related illness.
The commander stated that the Al-Shabaab leader passed away in the southern areas under Al-Shabaab control on Monday 25 June.
It has been rumoured within intelligence circles for months that Abu Ubaidah’s health was ailing. In recent weeks, credible sources have revealed that the group was considering electing a new leader.
Ahmed Dirie was elected as Al-Shabaab emir after the death of his predecessor Ahmed Abdi Godane, who was killed in a U.S. air raid on September 1, 2014. Five days later, an audio statement was posted on two pro-Al-Shabaab websites where members of the group pledged allegiance to Abu Ubaidah; hours later, two car bombs targeting a government convoy killed at least 12 civilians.
Little is known about the secretive Abu Ubaidah. He is believed to be in mid-to-late forties and a native of Qalaafe (Kelafo) in the Somali region of Ethiopia. Although disputed, intelligence analysts suspect that he hails from the Dir clan. It’s also believed that he taught Qur’an to children in the southern port city of Kismayo. In his formative years, it is alleged that he was an active member of Al-Ittihad Al-Islamist movement - a now-defunct Islamist militant movement that was active from the early 1990’s through the mid-2000’s. The group was considered as a terrorist organization by the U.S., the U.K. and Australia.
Before leading Al-Shabaab, Abu Ubaidah was the group’s “Waali” or governor in the Bay and Bakool region and was an integral part of Al-Shabaab’s shadowy intelligence wing known as “Amniyat”. A senior figure in Al-Shabaab described him as being “fiercely loyal” to his predecessor Godane.
The U.S. has placed a $6 million bounty on Abu Ubaidah’s head.
Al-Shabaab has strongly denied the death of their leader saying he was “alive, well and busy performing his obligations”.
The Federal Government is yet to comment on the latest development despite launching an attack on Tuesday that reportedly killed over 30 foreign fighters.
The state-owned Somali National News Agency is reporting that two simultaneous military operations targeting Al-Shabaab fighters in Jilib district in middle Jubba region, 380 km south of Mogadishu.
Somali National Army on Tuesday killed over 30 foreign fighters after conducting planned operations in Jilib district in middle Jubba region, 380 Km south of Mogadishu, SONNA reported.