Somali Security Agency Blames Employee’s Disappearance on al-Shabab

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Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency said Thursday that the terrorist group al-Shabab had killed a female employee who was abducted in Mogadishu in June. But close family members questioned the claim.

Ikran Tahlil Farah, 24, worked with the agency’s cybersecurity department. She was abducted June 26 near her home in Mogadishu’s Abdulaziz district, which is close to NISA headquarters.

The agency posted a brief statement on its website Thursday saying its investigation had determined that the young woman’s kidnappers handed her over to al-Shabab militants, who later killed her.

The agency did not release details about when or where it believed Ikran was killed.

Al-Shabab has not publicly acknowledged any role in Ikran’s disappearance. The Islamist extremist group previously has publicly executed people it accused of spying for the Somali government and for Western countries, including the United States.

The security agency issued its statement several hours after VOA’s Somali Service aired a radio program that focused on Ikran’s disappearance. Colonel Abdullahi Ali Maow, a former Somali intelligence official who was a guest on the program, speculated that the Islamist terrorist group was involved in Ikran’s fate.

‘This is a smokescreen’

But the young woman’s mother, Abdullahi Ali Maow, said she thought her daughter might be alive and detained in a clandestine location.

“I do not believe that al-Shabab killed my daughter, because when she was kidnapped, she was with people she trusted in the agency,” said the mother, who was also a guest on the program. “I think she is being held somewhere, and this is a smokescreen.”

Former NISA Director-General Abdullahi Ali Sanbalolshe told VOA Somali in July that “some people” told him Ikran had records about a program that secretly sent Somali military recruits to Eritrea to train. Allegations surfaced in June that those recruits have been fighting and dying in Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict.

Ikran “also could possess other sensitive information for which she could have been targeted,” Sanbalolshe said, noting that he hired the young woman in 2017.

Opposition leaders have been pressuring Somalia’s spy agency and Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble for information about the disappearance of the intelligence agency employee.