June 30, 2023
MOGADISHU, SOMALIA – The Somali Police Force, on June 25, 2023, made a remarkable and disconcerting discovery while apprehending an al-Shabaab insurgent they believe was responsible for recent mortar attacks on Mogadishu’s Aden Ade International Airport. The raid, executed in the Garasbaley neighborhood, unearthed an Iranian-made 107mm Haseb Fajr-1 rocket, revealing a greater complexity and adaptability in al-Shabaab’s armory than anticipated.
Investigations hint that the rocket likely originated from al-Shabaab’s raid on the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia’s (ATMIS) Forward Operating Base (FOB) in Bulo Mareer on May 26. Despite a subsequent airstrike aimed at neutralizing the weaponry plundered during the raid, the recent discovery in Mogadishu implies that these efforts might not have achieved their intended result.
A potential secondary source of the rocket could be traced back to the May 3, 2022, attack on the FOB in Ceel Baraf, though the physical condition and identification markings on the rocket suggest this as a less probable origin.
Al-Shabaab’s purpose for smuggling this rocket into the heart of Mogadishu remains unsettlingly obscure. Launching the rocket against a high-value target could be a motive, but the challenges associated with accuracy and avoiding detection pose substantial barriers. Extracting explosives for use in other devices also appears implausible, given the group’s consistent procurement of precursor chemicals for homemade explosives.
A more plausible explanation for the rocket’s presence in Mogadishu is that al-Shabaab might be planning to augment the potency of a vehicle-borne explosive device (VBIED) or a suicide vehicle-borne explosive device (SVBIED). Such a strategy would substantially increase the impact of their attacks, further undermining the relative peace and stability that have been tentatively established in the city.
Regardless of the specific intent behind the presence of this rocket, its discovery in Mogadishu, even in its outskirts, represents a chilling testament to al-Shabaab’s relentless pursuit of bringing chaos and destruction to Somalia’s capital. As the militant group adapts to changing dynamics, innovative strategies are required to combat this escalating threat and protect the city’s vulnerable populace