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The New Structure of Al-Shabaab

Al-Shabaab, a hardline Islamic group linked to Al Qaeda and battling for control of Somalia, has restructured their leadership, according to documents given to Somalia Report.

After four days of meetings in Barawe, a port city in Somalia's Lower Shabelle region, the leaders of al-Shabaab reorganized their chain of command and selected new leaders for a variety of key roles. The overall leader remains Sheikh Ahmed Abdi Godane (Muktar Abu-Zubeyr) who commands five regional administrations, each of which is responsible for its own military operations against the allied forces of Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and African Union peacekeepers.

The newly formulated strategy of the leadership, declared on June 17th, is far different from the previous structure. Now every two or three provinces is headed by one leader, an amiir, who is assisted by a deputy and other subordinates in the overall administration of their respective provinces. The two Jubba regions (Lower and Middle) directly fall under the command of Sheikh Godane while all other regions now report to the second deputy.

An al-shabaab official who spoke to Somalia Report said the new structure was implemented to improve military tactics.

The official further explained that in the new structure, some regions are separately commanded by a single leader where the leader directly reports to the utmost leader in the overall 3 provinces. For example, Khalif Mohamed Warsame is the head of operations in Gedo region and is commanded by Mahad Omar Abdikarim who is the overall amiir of Bay, Bakol and Gedo regions. The new structure accommodates the former districts leaders whose reports will be directed to the office of the province utmost leader but the structure omits the former local leader of every province.

“We are delighted with the new structure in place in our country as our leaders made the decision at the right time. It’s a crucial moment to adopt it and face the enemy with a rightful mind. The strategy is good in the current operations against the infidels. Hopefully, the structure will lead to defeating the enemies of God,” said Abdifatah, a senior al-Shabbaab official for Kismayo.

The new shabaab administration covers the entire with the exception of the breakaway region Somaliland, from which Sheikh Godane hails, sparking a rift among top leaders.

Exacerbating the rift, some of the newly named officials were appointed to a region from which they do not hail, such as is the case with Sheikh Mahad of Bay, Bakol and Gedo.

The new structures comes as the militant group loses more ground against allied forces and is preparing to defend their stronghold of Kismayo, in Lower Jubba region.

1) Lower Jubba and Middle Jubba

a) Abukar Ali Adan, falls directly under Godane (Tribe: Gaaljecel)
b) Hassan Yakub (Tribe: Eelay)
c) Abdullahi Dige Hiirow (Tribe: Hawiye; sub-clan Murusade)

2) Mudug, Hiiraan and Galgaduud regions

a) Yuusuf Ali Ugas, head of operations in Hiiran region (Tribe: Hawiye; sub-clan Hawadle)
b) Awil Godac (Tribe: Hawiye; sub-clan of Saleyban)
c) Fu’ad Mohamed Qalaf 'Shangole' (Tribe: Darod; sub-clan Oortable)
d) Abdishakur Ali Omar (Tribe: Hawiye; sub-clan Habargidir Sacad)
e) Halane Abdullahi Holac (Tribe: Hawiye; sub-clan: Habargidir Sacad)

3) Mogadishu, Lower Shabelle and Middle Shabelle regions

a) Sheikh Mohamed Abdullahi Hirey, leader (Tribe: Shikhal; sub-clan Qudub)
b) Mohamed Hassan Omar Abu Abdurahman, ex-Banaadir officer in charge, is now the head of military's department of logistics (Tribe: Habar gidir; sub-clan: Ceyr)
c) Sheikh Yusuf Isse 'Kaba Kutukade', head of Middle Shabelle region (Tribe: Abgaal; sub-clan Waceysle)
d) Maalim Mohamed Abdulle, head of operations (Tribe: Hawiye; sub-clan Abgal)

4) Bay, Bakool and Gedo regions

a) Mahad Omar Abdikarim, leader (Tribe: Dir)
b) Qalif Mohamed Warsame, head of operations in Gedo region (Tribe: Habargidir; sub-clan Ceyr)
c) Maalim Janow, head of operations in Bay and Bakool regions (Tribe: Eelaay)

5) Puntland, the semi-autonmous region in northern Somalia

a) Yassin Osman Khalid 'Kilwa' (Tribe: Darod sub-clan Warsangali)
b) Shiekh Abdikadir Ali Mumin (Tribe: Majerten; sub-clan Ali Saleeban)