Somalia has appointed the Qatari Al-Jazeera channel former bureau chief, Fahad Yasin, to manage the Intelligence body of the state, in a major shake-up of the country’s security chiefs as well as a replacement for the mayor of Mogadishu, who died in a suicide bomb attack last month, according to Reuters.
Former journalist Fahad Yasin, became head of the National Intelligence Security Agency (NISA), after performing the role as acting chief for the last 10 months. Yasin, promoted to influential positions in Somalia within a short time, is a member of the small Somali tribe, Ohssin Klowien, located on the borders of Ethiopia. He started engaging in political life as a mediator between the Doha regime and terrorist groups in Somalia by joining the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group and forging ties with one of its icons, Sheikh Dr Yusuf Al-Qaradawi. In May 2017, he became chief of the presidential office in Mogadishu after leading a presidential campaign for Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, also known as Farmajo, known to have close ties to Qatar, according to a Reuters report in 2018.
Who is Fahad Yasin?
A confidential intelligence report obtained by Garowe Online news website, run by Puntland, a self-governing state in northern Somalia, has shed light on the historical background of Fahad Yasin, Chief of Staff of Somalia's Presidential Palace, Villa Somalia, warning that he poses a unique threat to the president as a result of the close relations he has maintained with Al-Ittihad, a group designated as terrorists by the UK and the US, which took part in battles in Arare, Gedo, and Bosaso in the 1990s.
While working for Al-Jazeera, Fahad Yasin, organised a team from his Al-Ittihad group, including Abdishakur Ali Mire, a Federal MP, Balal Mohamed Osman, a Presidential aide, Jama Aideed and the Somali Ambassador to Turkey, to campaign for Farmajo to win the 2017 presidential election.
Fahad Yasin studied journalism in Yemen and worked for SomaliTalk, a mouthpiece website owned by the extremist organisation, Al-Ittihad, before he joined the Doha-based Al-Jazeera's Arabic-language channel.
As his links with Al-Shabab became closer, Yasin established a strong bond with the group's top leaders, including Al-Shabab's late spiritual leader, Ahmed Abdi Godane. He would soon become a facilitator of Qatar's funds to Al-Shabab, the report said. The Intelligence report further revealed that as Villa Somalia's current chief of staff he received Intelligence training in Qatar.
Since joining the research establishment, Yasin has not released reports and features he used to write on Somalia, sparking speculation about his work, with many raising the possibility that he was involved in Intelligence activities. However, according to the report, Fahad has been assigned to gather information about politicians and the political situation in the horn of Africa, a region beset by decades of civil war, as it was the gateway to the leadership of Somalia.
Qatar’s role in Somalia
Following Qatar's failure to convince the former Somali president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, to promote its strategic interests in Somalia, it had to revisit its Somalia approach, this time using a painstakingly planned strategy that would ensure the installation of a Somali president who could prioritise Qatar's interests as a primary objective. This president was Farmajo. Besides his position as Villa Somalia Chief of Staff, Fahad Yasin leads a group that worked with him during President Farmajo’s election campaign and manages Qatar's funds to Somalia.
Finally, the Intelligence report concluded that Fahad Yasin is trying to handpick and install the next head of Somalia's Intelligence Agency (NISA) or the deputy position in a bid to organise a Qatar-funded spy team to be trained by Iran to fulfil Doha's hidden agenda in Somalia. Yasin, the former Presidential Chief of Staff and now Head of (NISA), is considered to be Doha’s man in Somalia, who helped finance Farmajo’s election using his Qatari connections, according to Horn Observer, a Mogadishu-based website.
The Suna Times, a Somali news website, has revealed a list of names that it called “Fahad’s Qatar network and financiers”, which included Qatari names, such as Sheikh Abdullah Bin Khalid al-Thani, a member of the ruling family in Qatar, Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi, a spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and Abd al Latif bin Abdullah al-Kawari, designated by the UN security council and the US Treasury department as terrorists and fundraisers for al-Qaeda.
Last Month, Qatar was involved in a high profile attack on the Somali Bosaso port, as a revealed by the New York Times (NYT) report on recorded leaks of two senior Qatar government figures acknowledging responsibility for planning the incident. The involvement of the Qatari regime was proven by a recorded call between the Qatari ambassador to Somalia, Hassan bin Hamza Bin Hashem and an intelligence officer, Khalifa Kayed al-Muhannadi, who was branded by NYT as a close associate of the ruler of Qatar, Tameem bin Hamad al-Thani.
Fahad Yasin, has been a “conduit” of support from Qatar to Somalia, Chatham house, a UK-based international affairs think tank, reported in 2017 following the diplomatic boycott of Doha by four Arab countries.
Qatar has extensive influence in Somalia, building up social infrastructure such as schools, supporting hospitals and funding other humanitarian efforts often through local Muslim Brotherhood NGOs, the Nordic Africa Institute in Sweden said in a research paper.
Qatar, whose investments are almost all in Mogadishu, is focused on supporting President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, Farmajo, according to Reuters. The Somali President and his chief of staff are widely viewed at home and by western diplomats as loyal to Doha after receiving funds for their 2017 election campaign. A Qatari official confirmed to Reuters that Doha had provided $385 million in infrastructure, education and humanitarian assistance to the central Somali government.