Mogadishu (Midnimo) Somali Intel chief accuses Western agencies and Govts of doublespeak and Intel profiteering National Intelligence chief Abdullahi Sanbalooshe has lashed out at Western countries and their intelligence agencies for what he termed as deceit, outright refusal to share intelligence and profiteering from intelligence gathered from scene of IED attacks in Somalia at the expense of lives of Somalis.
In a hard hitting Op-Ed in the New York Times Thursday, Sanbalooshe painted a picture of an agency grappling in the dark on its own to prevent another attack like the October 14 truck bombing in Mogadishu while western agencies run away with crucial intelligence material and flatly refuse to share with their Somali counterparts.
Sanbalooshe said it was time for ‘a new paradigm of cooperation between Somali security services and our international partners.’
“We have been operating almost completely blind. International partners offered to provide “technical assistance,” but their good intentions served to blind us even more: the evidence gathered from bombing scenes is handled and removed by foreign “mentors” who treat intelligence as a commodity rather than as a shared asset in our battle against a common enemy,” Sanbalooshe said.
Once western intelligence agencies collect intelligence from the scene, the Intelligence chief says, “it is rarely, if ever returned.’
Coming in the wake of a deadly bomb attack which claimed over 400 lives and devastated livelihoods as hundreds of others nurse injuries both home and in foreign hospitals, the NISA head’s piece raises the worry of an agency unable to detect and halt another possible terror attack.
Sanbooshe said owing to lack of access of intelligence from scene of attacks and use of obsolete equipment and technology, his agency is left to wait on end for helping from western agencies and countries which are grossly reluctant to help.
“Our intelligence and analysis teams rely on 20th century, off-the-shelf software platforms to investigate.
“Only fragments of post-blast investigations are shared with us; often, we get no information at all. As a result, we are still almost entirely dependent on our foreign friends, instead of acquiring knowledge and skills to assume our shared of the task.” Sanbalooshe who served before as intelligence chief before heading off to UK as ambassador and recalled by President Farmaajo early this year to head the agency wondered by western agencies fail to share information especially on Improvised Explosives Device (IEDs).
“Information sharing costs nothing, but for some reason, when it comes to IEDs that chiefly claim Somali lives, it apparently lies beyond the means of our international partners.
“Vital information and evidence of crimes committed on Somali soil continue to be exploited and analysed abroad, denying us the opportunity to protect our own citizens and to hold the perpetrators to account.”
Requests for help from the US, Britain and the United Nations for training and technical assistance have gone answered, the intelligence head says.” Sanbalooshe cites a case in August when he sought the FBI’s Terrorist and Explosive Device Analysis Centre which has since taken the cue with its government-silence.
Reuters last week quoted a letter to Britain, US and the UN by Somalia’s internal security minister warning of lack of coordination between various foreign agencies in the country.
“Multiple actors involved means this process is highly disorganized … causing a severe problem for the governmental counter-terrorism efforts.”
The NISA chief warned similar attacks as the October 14 could be unpreventable owing to the relationship between its agency and western governments and agencies especially in light of enhance technologies deployed by Al-Shabaab. The group, Sanbalooshe, said had upped the number of attacks since 2015 and now easily exploits home-made materials to make powerful bombs.
Al-Shabaab used homemade bombs in 395 attacks in 2016 killing 723 people and wounding more than 100 others, an increase of 110% in 2015 which recorded 265 attacks. From IED weighing 100-200kgs, the group now deploys IEDs of between 800 and 1000 kgs.
It is time, the NISA chief to equip and empower homeland intelligence agencies to effectively execute their roles instead of relying on foreign help. He called for genuine support to the Somali government which he noted does not currently have the financial ability to install the requisite intelligence facilities.
“We can no longer outsource out investigations and intelligence analysis to private contractors driven by the profit motive. We must acquire the means to exploit intelligence and evidence ourselves, to prosecute the criminals in Somali courts and to develop a Somali-owned strategy to defeat this enemy. We owe to the victims of Mogadishu