PHOTOS:The most Dangerous Kenyan Alive: A profile of the elusive Mohamed Abdikadir

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The face of terror: Abdikadir Mohamed Abdikadir. He is fluent in six languages: English, Somali, Arabic, French, Norwegian and Kiswahili. He holds Norwegian travel documents though his Norwegian citizenship is in question
The face of terror: Abdikadir Mohamed Abdikadir. He is fluent in six languages: English, Somali, Arabic, French, Norwegian and Kiswahili. He holds Norwegian travel documents though his Norwegian citizenship is in question

There is a $9 million bounty on his head offered by the US Reward for Justice Program. Presently, he resides at an undisclosed fortified rural enclave in Southern Somalia where he is protected by more than two-dozen Kenyan mujahedeen (jihadists).

 

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Bio

Abdikadir Mohammed Abdikadir (nom de guerre, Ikrima) is a multilingual senior al Shabaab figure born in 1979 to a middle-class Kenyan-Somali family residing in Mombasa – the biggest port city in Kenya. He was educated in Kenya where he completed his O level education before proceeding to study French and computer science concurrently at two different institutions – Alliance Française and another tertiary institution located in Nairobi, for two years.

He has a deformed left hand which misses three fingers (which were probably lost as a result of an accidental explosion of an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) during assembly, or, as he trained jihadist apprentices on IED emplacement methods).

He is fluent in six languages: English, Somali, Arabic, French, Norwegian and Kiswahili. He possesses Norwegian travel documents even though his Norwegian citizenship status is still in question.

There is a $9 million bounty on his head offered by the US Reward for Justice Program. Presently, he resides at an undisclosed fortified rural enclave in Southern Somalia where he is protected by more than two-dozen Kenyan mujahedeen (jihadists).

 

Terror profile

Ikrima is said to have worked closely with Amar abu Jafar and Yasin Kilwe during the proto-state years (2007 through to 2013) of al Shabaab to build an extensive and deeply-entrenched terror infrastructure in Somalia. Jafar is an ethnic Somali who lost an eye subsequent to a failed terror attack, and rarely engages in active combat. Jafar served as the deputy of Ikrima, and assisted him to streamline operational logistics for terror operatives in Somalia. Yasin Kilwe (real name, Yaassin Osman Khalid) is a university graduate who hails from the Warsangali clan. Kilwe was appointed as al Shabaab’s Emir for Puntland in 2012.  Ikrima and Jafar used their established terror infrastructure to entrench and sustain Yassin Kilwe’s rule as al Shabaab’s governor for Puntland.

Ikrima is believed to serve as a military strategist and an operational planner within Amniyaat – al Shabaab’s intelligence arm. He has also coordinated the recruitment of radicalised Kenyan youths into al Shabaab, and he is said to still command a legion of Kenyan mujahedeen in Somalia. His legion is tasked with protecting him, establishing and maintaining intelligence networks in Kenya and Somalia – and engaging in violent confrontations with Somali, IJA (Interim Jubbaland Administration), KDF and AMISOM troops.

Ikrima joined al Shabaab as a member of its Kenyan affiliate, al-Hijra, and he once deputised Ahmed Imaan Ali (alias Abu Zinnirah) prior to his marginalisation from the top leadership during al Shabaab’s internal purge in 2013.

Ahmed Imaan Ali is a hardened Islamist best known for his oft-repeated bloodcurdling catchphrase “Chinja, Chonga na Fyeka Shingo za Makafiri” (decapitate, disfigure and split the necks of the infidels). Imaan Ali is a Kenyan of Meru descent and an engineering graduate who has proven to be a sophisticated and highly elusive operative (who has evaded multiple intelligence agencies), as well as a charismatic and eloquent Islamist lecturer besides being one of the chief strategic theorists for al Shabaab. Ali is still the bona fide Emir of the Kenyan mujahedeen fighting in Somalia – and Ikrima liaised with him when conducting sensitive conscription, espionage and terror operations within Kenya and Somalia.

Ikrima still maintains close relationship with selected elements in al Shabaab’s top leadership including the military high command and the Shura council. Using his intelligence network that has entrenched itself deep within Kenya’s administrative, religious and economic sectors, he has been able to select high-profile targets for terror attacks, as well as conduct counter-intelligence operations. Ikrima has planned complex attacks which involved simultaneous coordinated bombings of Kenyan military bases: Ethiopian commercial assets, Kenyan government buildings and multinational/international resources – using an assortment of SVBIED (Suicide Vehicle-bound IED), IED, suicide bombers and gun attacks. In Somalia, he has planned and still continues to plan ambushes against KDF, Ethiopian, SNG (Somali National Government) and AMISOM troops.

It was alleged that he was also involved in the planning of the failed assassination attempt of the CIA station chief for East Africa, Gary Schroen. He was also involved in the failed attack on the main Mogadishu Airport and the UN Humanitarian Compound where he hoped to kill UN personnel, regional peacekeepers and Nicholas Kay – the UN special representative for Somalia. Quite significant is the fact that he planned and facilitated the 19th June 2013 attack on a UN compound which killed 14 people (including the six terrorists).

 

Personal history

Ikrima is originally from Mombasa, even though his family relocated to Nairobi where they resided in Eastleigh Section 1. Here he grew up as a nominal Muslim who routinely engaged in secular endeavours. He emigrated to Norway in 2003 – and resided there till 2007. He was radicalised during his stay in Norway whence he embarked on several journeys (using different aliases) to al Shabaab ruled areas in Somalia.

During his initial acquaintance with al Shabaab, he was tasked with recruiting jihadists from Europe, who could then be trained in Somalia before being dispatched back to their home nations. It was during this time that Ikrima established contact with Morten Storm (a reformed Danish jihadist who operated as an al Qaeda combatant, while concurrently working as a double agent for the CIA and MI6), and Hassan Abdi Dhuhulow (suspected to have participated in the Westgate Mall Attack). It is suspected that he facilitated the radicalisation of Dhuhulow in Norway. Ikrima’s sister still resides in Norway.

Later, he joined Amniyaat as an external intelligence officer responsible for Kenyan operations, and it is during this period that he became well acquainted with Shiekh Mahat Omar – al Shabaab’s chief ideologue. Shiekh Mahat Omar still resides unperturbed in the suburb of Eastleigh, Nairobi though was arrested and arraigned in court after the Garissa massacre.

Unable to acquire Norwegian citizenship, Ikrima travelled to London in 2007 and moved in with friends into a North London residence. In 2008, he moved to Somalia where he formally joined al Shabaab’s top military leadership as a military strategist and tactical planner, thus he never participated in most active battles.

It was Ikrima working alongside Abdi Godane, Omar Hammami (alias Abu Mansoor al-Amriki), Imaan Ali, Ahmed Diriye (Abu Ubaidah – the current Emir of Al-Shabaab), Yasin Kilwe and Abdirahim Mohammed Warsame (alias Mahad Karate) among other strategists who formulated and implemented al Shabaab’s war strategy against a multinational counter-terrorism force. The strategy envisaged a protracted insurgency punctuated with conventional combat engagements as well as an integrated military conflict which would drag Kenya into a war of attrition that would enable Amniyaat, Jabhad (mobile warfare) forces and Daawah (Preaching) units to infiltrate Kenya and conduct a persistent and lethal terror campaign within the nation. Abdirahim Mohammed Warsame is a Kenyan of Somali descent who currently heads Amniyaat covert operations unit. Warsame would have been appointed the Supreme Emir of al Shabaab had it not been the Shura council’s apprehension of the drastic changes that he would have instituted – and the Shura insteadopted to appoint him as the deputy of al Shabaab. Warsame still enjoys a cordial relationship with Ikrima.

Ikrima gained a reputation as a radically creative military planner. At one time suggesting that al Shabaab should conduct mass abduction campaigns of Kenyan Christians living in the North-Eastern region, and use them as a leverage to halt Kenya’s security operations against radical sheikhs and extremist mosques based at the Coast region.

Ikrima supported Omar Shafik Hammami (alias, Abu Mansoor al-Amriki) – an American civil engineer – during his conflict with Abu Zubeyr prior to al-Amriki’s liquidation on September 12, 2013, at Dinsoor in South-western Somalia on Zubeyr’s orders. He also lost his esteemed friend, Musa Dheere, to the purge within al Shabaab. Musa Dheere was a high-ranking al Qaeda operative in Somalia who also doubled as an explosives expert.

 

Salafist proponent

Ikrima has worked consistently to undermine the authorities of non-Salafist Somali community leaders in Norway, Kenya, Britain and Somalia. He has always preferred the company of foreign jihadists to Somalis (probably due to the fact that most Somalis are still Sufis). He also established contact with Samantha Lewthwaithe and Jermaine Grant.

 

Service as al Qaeda’s pointman in al Shabaab

Due to his generally non-tribal affiliation and amiable temperament, alongside his aversion to Somali clan-factionalism, AQAP (al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) selected him as one of their chief pointmen within al Shabaab. He has an extremely close relationship with AQAP’s leadership. This is a relationship that was initially formed through his correspondence with Anwar bin Nasser bin Abdulla al-Aula (alias Anwar al-Awlaki) – an Islamist ideologue who then served as the supreme Imam of Al Qaeda Central (AQC) prior to his assassination via a CIA drone strike on September 30, 2011. He also maintained excellent relationship with Fazul Abdullah Mohammed and Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan – both men served as chief AQC (al-Qaeda Central) operatives in East Africa alongside Bilal el-Berjawi and Mohammed Sakr. Bilal el-Berjawi was a British jihadist of Lebanese Sunni descent who joined al Shabaab and became its military trainer before he was assassinated in Mogadishu by a CIA-operated drone in January 2012. Mohammed Sakr was also a British jihadist of Egyptian descent who joined al Shabaab and was assassinated in Lower Shabelle Region on February 24, 2012, when his car was hit by a hellfire missile – fired from a CIA-operated drone.

Ikrima survived al Shabaab’s gruesome internal purge of 2013 by seeking AQC protection and surrounding himself with a contingent of over two-dozen Kenyan Muhajir (emigrant jihadists) bodyguards. AQC backed him in his conflict with the then Hargeisa-born Emir of al Shabaab, Ahmed Abdi Godane (alias Mukhtar Abu Zubeyr) by reprimanding Abu Zubeyr, and also impeding cash flow to al Shabaab from Qatar and Yemen. Ahmed Abdi Godane was assassinated by the CIA – through a drone strike – September 1, 2014.

 

Westgate Mall attack

Ikrima is believed to have been involved in the planning of the Westgate Mall attack of September 2013. He also used his intelligence network in Kenya to facilitate the intelligence aspects, logistics, and acquisition of armaments for the attack. Furthermore, he coordinated the psychological aspects of the attack alongside Ahmed Imaan, Amniyaat’s psychological warfare department, and al-Kataib Media Foundation (al Shabaab’s official media arm). Together they conducted a very successful disinformation campaign during the Westgate Mall attack as they misled and deceived almost all involved parties including international journalists, and assorted international security agencies involved in the hostage-siege crisis.

 

Al Qaeda conference call

In August 2013, a few weeks prior to the Westgate attack, Ikrima informed his partners in AQAP of al Shabaab’s plan to conduct a spectacular attack in East Africa – and requested the advice of AQAP functionaries and leaders concerning the best way forward. Sources claim that AQAP later forwarded Ikrima’s request via Nasir Abdel Karim al-Wuhayshi (the founder and the then de-facto Emir of AQAP) to Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri (the Supreme leader of al Qaeda). This was done during a conference call which al Qaeda top leadership was having with the leaders of all its affiliates across the globe. Al-Wuhayshi requested permission – on behalf of al Shabaab – from Ayman al Zawahiri to conduct a major attack in a nation ruled by non-Muslims. Zawahiri consented. AQAP contacted Ikrima after the conference call and a few weeks later, the Westgate Mall attack occurred. The conference call was intercepted by US security services and could have subsequently advised the US government to close down several of its embassies and consulates across the Middle East, Africa and South-East Asia.

 

The navy seal raid 

Following the Westgate Mall attack, the US was able to investigate and gain insight into al Shabaab’s operations in Kenya, and in the process, they were able to unravel Ikrima’s role in the attack and his relationship with top al Qaeda leaders. The US intelligence community decided to capture him alive for interrogation. On October 5, 2013, a SEAL team conducted a commando raid on Ikrima’s fortified residence situated in the port town of Barawe. The commando raid failed after the Kenyan muhajirguarding the residence repelled the attackers. The failure of the raid has been attributed to intelligence leaks, flawed operational planning and ill-timing.

 

Surviving the internal purge

Wary of Somali clan politics, which was gradually eroding al Shabaab’s internal cohesion during Abu Zubeyr’s reign, Ikrima worked almost exclusively with foreign jihadists. These comprised of Pakistani, Arab, British and North African mujahideen. Ikrima always ensured that foreign jihadists (muhajir) maintained operational bases along the Somali Coastline in order to preserve operational access to AQAP bases in Yemen, and also maintain a direct ocean route to Kenya for attacks.

Anticipating an internal purge within al Shabaab, Ikrima relocated all the fighters under his command alongside their resources and assets to Barawe – and thereafter ensured Barawe was the regional headquarters of muhajir dissent against Abu Zubeyr style of leadership. During that time, Abu Zubeyr maintained his headquarters in Dinsoor area of Bay region – from where he planned and executed the purge. Almost all muhajirs who relocated to Barawe before the purge survived it.

The purge split al Shabaab into three camps: al Shabaab central led by Abu Zubeyr and based in Dinsoor (it also controlled al Shabaab Kenyan affiliates – Al-Hijra and Muslim Youth Council (MYC – that was originally based at the Pumwani Mosque))– that was originally based at the Pumwani Mosque; the Muhajir alliance based in Barawe in which Ikrima and Abu Mansoor al-Amriki (before he was killed) belonged; and the Mukhtar Robow’sRahanweyn-dominated jihadi rebels based in Bay region in Southern Somalia. Mukhtar Robow (alias Abu Mansur) had served as the deputy Emir of al Shabaab as well as its spokesman before he fell out with Abu Zubeyr, and had to escape the purge by relocating to his clan territory in Berdaale district.

 

Subversion in Kenya 

Ikrima has played an important role in creating a pan-ethnic Kenyan mujahedeen committed to jihad, disavowal of non-salafists, and extreme prejudice against Christians. He supported Imaan Ali’s call for radicalised Muslims in Kenya to wage war within the country if they are unable to enter Somalia. He also supported the takfiri stance of MYC, which legitimised the killing of ordinary Muslims opposed to Islamist terrorism.

 

Marginalisation by al Shabaab 

Ikrima has been consistently sidelined after the internal purge, and was denied the leadership of Amniyaat by Sheikh Ahmad Umar (real name: Ahmed Diriye, alias Abu Ubaidah) – the present Emir/Supreme leader of the Somalia-based terror group. The reasons for sidelining him include instances of his past insubordination to Abu Zubeyr; his bold, reckless and sometimes unviable military plans; his amicable relations with Mukhtar Robow; and his unswerving tendency of always supporting foreign jihadists vis-a-vis native Somali jihadists.

Nonetheless, he still remains popular with the Kenyan mujahedeen and other muhajir in general. Likewise, al Shabaab top leaders still remain wary of his influence over the course of jihad in Kenya and Somalia. Abu Ubaidah is particularly alarmed by Ikrima’s affectionate relationship with Mukhtar Robow – an al Shabaab renegade commander opposed to Ubaidah’s leadership.

 

– the-star.co.ke

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