Terrorist infiltration of the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) continues: Famous poet and government official Nageye Ali Khalif has reportedly joined al-Shabaab. It is yet another indication of the extremist group’s infiltration of government institutions. Mr Khalif is a renowned Somali poet, a former lecturer at the Somali National University in Mogadishu, and a former Director of ICT at the Somali Bureau of Standards (SOBS). His Somaliland connections are also worth exploring.
Mogadishu & Hargeisa, SOMALIA.
Mr Khalif, despite his association with government institutions, made his personal choice to join al-Shabaab. His views appeared in his recent book “Dibadwareeg,” where he mentions that the ongoing war against al-Shabaab aims to extinguish the light of Somali resistance and create puppet states in our country.
Before formally joining the group, the acting director of SOBS, the President’s daughter-in-law, dismissed Mr Khalif in January 2023 from his position as the Director of ICT. The removal of Mr Khalif and, later, ten other employees was allegedly to create vacancies for new hires. However, the process surrounding their dismissal was marred by corruption.
These allegations raise questions about the government’s ability to effectively address al-Shabaab infiltration within its institutions, as well as the code of conduct by the President’s relatives appointed to high positions in government institutions.
Infiltration of government
The full extent of al-Shabaab’s infiltration within government institutions remains unclear. Khalif reportedly met everyone in government, from President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud to cabinet ministers and prominent politicians. The revelation adds to the embarrassment of the government’s approaches to dealing with the problem.
The presence of al-Shabaab operatives within government entities not only compromises national security efforts but also erodes public trust in the government’s ability to protect its citizens. To tackle this issue, the government must implement more rigorous vetting processes and establish robust mechanisms to identify and report suspicious activities within its institutions. Additionally, strengthening counterintelligence measures and fostering cooperation among security agencies are crucial to mitigate the risk of further infiltration.
The fact that clientelism is deeply rooted in government institutions also doesn’t help. Mr Khalif’s removal from SOBS was blurry. Did the management know about Khalif’s connections to al-Shabaab or his extremist views? Was that the reason why the management fired him? If so, did the management report his case to the relevant authorities?
The Hargeisa connection
Khalif came to Mogadishu in 2016. Following his dismissal from SOBS, he travelled back to his place of origin, the self-proclaimed state of Somaliland. Reports indicate that on 26 August, he was in Bur’o (Burco), where he met with a former al-Shabaab emir, Ismail Mahamud Araale, posting their photo on social media. This highlights another security failure – the one of Somaliland.
Khalif was able to wayfare the triangle of Berbera, Bur’o and Hargeisa freely. The security apparatus of the self-proclaimed state either failed to apprehend him or, more likely, permitted his contacts due to their long-standing truce with al-Shabaab in the region.
Last trace: Aden Adde Airport
Upon returning from Somaliland to Mogadishu a few days ago, Khalif has not been seen leaving the Aden Adde International Airport. Government intelligence reports indicate that he left for Jilib, al-Shabaab’s stronghold in the Middle Juba region. The indication that the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) of Somalia, which oversees airport security, was not aware of his al-Shabaab connections, is highly worrying.