Al-Shabaab appoints new 'army' commander


MOGADISHU, Somalia - Somalia's al-Qaeda network associates; the Al-Shabaab, may have appointed a new army commander, a top national security official revealed, noting that the changes may have been occasioned by internal wrangles within the group that controls central and southern regions.

Hussein Sheikh Ali, the National Security Advisor, said the militants have a new man in charge of Jabha (army), who will be in charge of ground operations. The militants, however, do not have sustainable strategies for ground combat.

Security officials say they believe the new al-Shabaab Jabha commander is Guled Ilkacase. The person holding the position is highly regarded within the ranks of the group and operates alongside top leadership, including the group leader, Abu Ubaidah.

Not much is known about Guled Ilkacase, but a defector told Voice of America he may have spent time with Al-Shabaab fighters in Galgala (Puntland). There are not many Al-Shabaab fighters in the northern state of Somalia.

Puntland is largely stable with elite forces dislodging militants from strategic regions. Only the IS-Somalia militants operate within the Bari region but their presence is limited due to frequent crackdowns by the leadership in Puntland.

VOA could not independently confirm his appointment and background but if true it means he replaces Yasir Jiis who was designated by the US in 2022 as a “global terrorist.” The US has designated several members of the Al-Shabaab including the group's top commanders.

Al-Shabaab militants have lost several strategic towns following the activation of the operations by the Somali National Army backed by the US Africa Command and the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS). Over the last two years, over 3,000 militants have been killed.

The government aims to liberate all regions by December 2024 when the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia group is set to fully withdraw. The Somali National Armed and local police shall assume security responsibilities.


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