By the Editorial Team:
Budbud, Galguduud, Somalia –
Fierce fighting between al-Shabaab and government forces took place over the weekend across several locations in Somalia. One such occurred in Budbud village in Galmudug State of central Somalia. Official sources and other news outlets reported the incident, indicating that the Danab special forces successfully eliminated 18 al-Shabaab militants. However, the Somali Digest learned a different course of events.
On Saturday afternoon, the Somali National Army’s (SNA) elite Danab was reported to kill 18 al-Shabaab militants and injure others during an operation in the Budbud area of Somalia’s Galmudug State. This was at least reported by the Somali National News Agency (SONNA) and adopted by other media outlets.
Then abruptly, on Sunday, news emerged that Danab Commander Ahmed Abdullahi Nur, commonly known as “Beeryare,” was relieved of duties and promptly replaced by Lieutenant Colonel Aidarus Mohamed Hussein. The “surprising” and “abrupt” change in command, what some called it, was actually not that surprising, nor abrupt, as the Somali Digest learned.
According to a reliable source within Somalia’s Ministry of Defence, Commander Beeryare was fired for his incompetence and cowardly behaviour in the previous day’s operation. Our well-informed source gave an account of the Chief of Defence Force, Brigadier General Ibrahim Sheikh Muhydin, rushing to Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and urging him to grant permission to replace Commander Beeryare immediately. The reason was Commander’s shameful retreat from the Budbud incident a day earlier.
Let’s first clarify how the official sources described the Budbud clash. The accounts had one erroneous issue in common: leaning solely on the version provided by the SNA. Due to the incident’s remoteness, there were no local witnesses to the fighting, providing the SNA with an opportunity to deliberately mislead the public.
SONNA confirmed the operation, quoting (the later fired) Commander Beeryare as saying that the soldiers destroyed places where al-Shabaab used to store weapons and chemicals to make explosives.
Another SNA soldier confirmed the fighting, describing how Danab was the first to attack al-Shabaab after receiving intelligence that the jihadists were regrouping and preparing for an attack in Gal’ad. The SNA then allegedly attacked al-Shabaab faster, managing to kill 18 militants and injuring several others. This version was celebrated by SONNA and uncritically adopted by other media outlets.
What really happened in Budbud?
According to a knowledgeable source within the Ministry of Defence (MoD), the reality was that the Danab unit faced a humiliating defeat that day. Commander Beeryare not only lost the battle but also ran away from his vehicle, leaving behind his deceased driver and an unspecified number of comrades. For that, he was fired a day later.
The SNA’s description of events was a sheer lie, which was subsequently confirmed by the firing of Commander Beeryare. While SNA’s victorious claims could not be verified due to the remoteness of the clash, al-Shabaab’s claim of capturing (at least) one SNA vehicle was confirmed by our MoD source.
The SNA claiming to win a battle while being ultimately defeated poses serious concerns about the national army’s credibility and integrity. How can it be trusted if it disseminates utter lies and effectively manipulates the Somali public and international allies? Al-Shabaab has been known for its use of draconian hyperboles when informing about battlefield triumphs while keeping their losses secret. The SNA, unfortunately, shows that its (mis)communication is no different.
Commander Beeryare was fired for losing the battle and running away from his vehicle. Not for his clan allegiance or shadowy political games. He was fired for his misconduct, which was so embarrassing to his bosses that they could not withstand him anymore.