Somalia: Moroccan nationals linked to ISIS, arrested in Puntland
BOSASO, Somalia - Four Moroccan nationals were recently arrested in the Puntland state of Somalia, following suspicions that they are members of IS-Somalia, a terror group which is domiciled in the Golis mountains, and who have been trying to wage attacks against security forces.
Sadiq Ali, the spokesperson of the Somali Police Force, said the four were arrested on November 18th in Cal Miskaad mountains where the group usually plots attacks before targeting members of security teams, innocent civilians, and at times senior government officials.
The police, Sadiq said, are piecing together evidence to establish how the four arrived in northeastern Somalia without being detected by security agencies. They are currently being interrogated by security teams to establish their relationship with ISIS.
The arrest of the four almost coincided with the repulsion of the ISIS attack in Bosaso, the commercial capital of Puntland state. Reports indicated that an IS-Somalia attack targeting workers at a construction site was thwarted by hawk-eyed security forces.
In January 2023, ISIS militants engaged Puntland Regional Forces in a fierce gunfight. The "battle" was defensive on IS-Somalia's part, with the militant group saying it was "repelling" a Puntland state attack, aided by U.S. forces and air power, on it in the Cal Miskaad Mountains.
At that time, the militants claimed 10 soldiers were killed. ISIS also showed training of a handful of fighters it says to make one of its "security detachments," units tasked with assassinations, planting IEDs, and conducting surveillance on Somali government and ATMIS forces, including in and around Mogadishu:
Despite being unable to overtake its chief rival, Al-Shabaab, and despite its reach significantly decreasing since 2017, IS-Somalia still maintains underground cells in Mogadishu, Bosaso, and other parts of Somalia; its chief base of operations remains Puntland state of Somalia.
Somalia is engaged in the fight against Al-Shabaab and ISIS in an operation that has managed to down over 4,000 militants in the last year. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has insisted that the war will continue until the groups are defeated by the military.