Somali Army Officer Faces Death for Terror Massacres, Arms Trading

Shariff Mohamed Barkhadle, a commander with the Somali National Army (SNA), is sentenced to death. Barkhadle has been found guilty of facilitating terrorist attacks on civilians. (IMAGE: Screengrab)

A Somali soldier believed to have colluded with the ​a​l​-​Shabab in the horrendous  killing of at least 100 people in various terror attacks is staring at the death penalty.

Shariff Mohamed Barkhadle, a commander with the Somali National Army (SNA) cooperated with the ​a​l​-​Shabab in the execution of various attacks in Mogadishu in 2019, Prosecutors told the military court during the trial.

The Attorney-General of the SNA, Abdullahi Bule Kamey, told a military court martial last week, commander Barkhadle was an active duty officer who colluded with ​a​l​-​Shabab.

Barkhadle was on salary and had no reason to join ​a​l​-​Shabab, the army attorney said. He never lost his rank in the military, Kamey said.

The military court is expected to deliver its decision shortly on whether the commander should be punished by death for his role in terrorism.

Barkhadle was charged at the military court with the offence of facilitating the terror attacks against civilians.

The ranking commander is alleged to have smuggled and sold state-owned weapons to the ​a​l​-​Sha​b​ab.

State Prosecutors said with the aid of the military commander, the ​a​l​-​Shabab staged various attacks in Mogadishu in 2019.

At least 100 people were killed in those attacks, according to investigators.

Barkhadle was promoted to the rank of a captain within the SNA after successfully leading a territorial warfare against the ​a​l​-​Shab​​ab in Banadir region, which encompasses Mogadishu, the capital.

“He made a 360-degrees turn and became the military commander who joined al-Shabab and transported explosives to them in Mogadishu,” said an investigator who testified on January 7 2023.

Barkhadle readily admitted to having commercial ties to the group through the sale of military arsenal to the group.

“I sold weapons. It’s the truth. I am not lying to the court. I sold two mortars to them,” said Barkhadle.

Investigators produced CCTV footage showing an explosion in front of a shop in Mogadishu, killing those nearby. Barkhadle is suspected of facilitating attacks that killed at least 100 people. (IMAGE: Screengrab)

The ​a​l​-​Shabab used mortars to shell the Somali presidential palace, the airport and African Union forces base in Mogadishu during its intensified attacks against the Mogadishu-based government.

Prosecutors brought Close Circuit Television (CCTV) footage of a parked vehicle in front of a shop exploding and killing those nearby.

The court will be relying on the prosecution information, which included CCTV footage and the aftermath of several attacks allegedly facilitated by Barkhadle.

Government officials allege the ​a​l​-​Shabab said the targeted businesses whose owners refused to pay extortion fees.

Barkhadle claimed he joined ​a​l​-​Shabab because he was fired from his military duties. However, the military attorney-general said he was gainfully employed while working for ​a​l​-​Shabab.

“To think that he admitted to having joined the ​a​l​-​Shabab  on his own free will and requested to work for the group just because he was sacked from the military duties is quite absurd. He killed many people. We request the court to give him the death sentence,” said Kamey.