Security - The arrest of Abdirahman Isse Hassan, a Somali murder suspect who quietly slipped into hiding in South Sudan, through the efforts of the Somali National Police Force (SNPF) has accentuated Somalia's growing relevance and cooperation in the regional anti-terror battle. SNPF, which has also grown in capability, closely monitored the movement of Hassan who was then arrested by INTERPOL with the help of the South Sudanese Police in early 2013.
PANA reports that while not much information was available on the murder trial of Hassan since his arrest, his movement into South Sudan was consistent with the route taken by suspected terrorists.
Keen to shake off security scrutiny, they usually travel from Somalia into South Sudan and oblivion.
This escape route is consistent with the path taken by terrorist suspects who launched the Kampala attack in 2010 and the attackers of the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, last year
According to situational intelligence reports prepared by Kenya’s National Intelligence Services (NIS), Somali-based terrorist agents were receiving military equipment from a South Sudanese military officer, named Joseph Lomoro.
Also, Kenyan explosives expert Maalim Khalid was working with the team of new Al Shabaab recruits trained in various attack tactics, who would later be smuggled from Somalia into South Sudan, through Djibouti or Sudan, from where they would target installations in Kenya.
Based on those reports, the security officials in the region have established close links with the Somali Police in an effort to counter the threats.
Uganda signed an agreement earlier this month with Somalia to enable the police in both countries carry out joint security operations.
Somalia’s cooperation with the global police community is already yielding fruits.
In Nov. 2013, Mohamed Abdi Hassan (Afweyne), who made most of the US$400 million in ransoms earned by pirates, was lured to his arrest in Belgium.
INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald Noble said the increasing effectiveness of the Somali Police followed the training and equipment offered to the country from the INTERPOL's offices in Nairobi, which eventually led to Mogadishu’s reconnection to INTERPOL's Global Communication System on 10 Oct., 2012.
This has enabled the National Central Bureau (NBC) in Mogadishu to communicate with others in real time.
UN officials say unless the fight against terrorism is enhanced to an extent that Somalia is no longer a haven for terrorists, the scourge of terrorism would remain strong from ‘Bamako to Bangui.’
“The impact of Somalia remaining a stronghold for terrorists will be felt from Bamako to Bangui,” UN Special Envoy to Somalia Nicholas Kay told the UN Security Council last month. “Tackling the scourge of terrorism in Somalia requires a comprehensive approach. Political, military and development efforts are needed,” Kay added.
By Kennedy Abwao, PANA Correspondent, Nairobi