The slaying of Mohammed Abdi was the bloody finale of a bitter dispute between factions of a Somali drug gang operating in Scotland,
It began with a high-speed chase across Edinburgh and ended with the son of a Muslim cleric being shot with a Mac-10 machine gun.
The slaying of Mohammed Abdi was the bloody finale of a bitter dispute between factions of a Somali drug gang operating in Scotland, spreading fear in normally quiet streets and edging out the big players in Edinburgh’s underworld.
The thugs had descended on the city to ply their lucrative trade, taking in a reputed £15,000 a week from peddling crack cocaine and other narcotics.
The gang’s members lived the high life on the profits, splashing out £100 a time on bottles of expensive vodka and cognac in Edinburgh nightclubs.
They had access to firearms such as the deadly Mac-10, with its ability to fire more than 1000 rounds a minute, and the willingness to use them.
But it was an internal war which would leave one of their number lying dead in the road in 2013.
A year later, Mohamud Mohamud, Cadil Huseen and Hussein Ali, then aged 30, 23 and 26, would receive life sentences with a minimum term of 25 years for the murder.
Abdi, who was 25 and known to pals as Mo, came to Edinburgh as a teenager when his family left Somalia. He was a student and worked as a
part-time security guard.
Friends said he became “seduced” by the “champagne lifestyle” enjoyed by Somali gangsters who had headed north from London.
Abdi was charged with drug offences three weeks before his death, after a raid on his flat in Buchanan Street, Leith.
The gang split in the lead-up to the shooting for reasons that have never been established, with threats being exchanged between the opposing sides.
As tensions escalated, Abdi and an associate vandalised Huseen’s flat in Gilmerton. Ali’s flat in nearby Gracemount was also attacked.
A text message sent during the conflict warned ominously: “The guns are coming out.”
It was 11pm on May 25, 2013, when Abdi and his cohorts were contacted by phone to meet in the Lochend area and resolve the feud.
It proved to be a set-up. It led to a brief car chase before Abdi and the other men travelling in a Ford Focus escaped into the night.
But two hours later, a chance encounter next to the capital’s Holyrood High School would result in a frenzy of violence.
The Focus was passing by at 1am when two vehicles heading in the opposite direction, a
Volkswagen Sharan driven by Huseen and a Fiesta, suddenly spun round to begin a pursuit towards Willowbrae.
The Fiesta managed to overtake the Focus, pulling in front of it and forcing it to come to a halt at the foot of Abercorn Avenue. The slower Volkswagen caught up but collided with the Fiesta, careering down the street, then turning round.
The VW – holding an armoury of weapons including the Mac-10 and a revolver – and the Focus now faced each other in what cops later described as a “Mexican stand-off between vehicles”.
It was Abdi and his associates who acted first, jumping out armed with baseball bats and knives and running at the VW. Abdi was seen grinning broadly as he closed in on the target.
VW driver Huseen accelerated forward, leaving heavy skid marks on the road. But at the last moment the car veered suddenly, perhaps to avoid the men on foot.
Bumping up the kerb, the people carrier smashed through railings encircling Abercorn Tennis Club and became embedded in the metal.
Its side door was jammed by trees and the front seats of the seven-seater VW – which police believed was fully loaded with gang members – had to be put down to allow those in the back to exit.
Some of the men were trapped inside as Abdi and his friends furiously striked the car with a bat and other weapons.
As terrified passers-by looked on, the rival gangsters engaged in a brutal street battle.
But as Abdi swung his bat against the VW’s rear bodywork, the Mac-10 was fired five times through the back window.
He was hit three times, including a fatal wound to the chest.
The gun then jammed, leaving 17 bullets still lodged in it, but Abdi was already lifeless on the ground.
One witness described hearing a “rat-a-tat” sound.
The noise was also heard in the background of one of many 999 calls made to the police that night.
Another witness, a taxi driver, said: “It was like
something you hear in the movies. I couldn’t believe it would be shots.”
Police officers arrived almost immediately on the chaotic scene. Gang members had managed to wrench open the VW’s doors and spill out into nearby woods.
The Mac-10, which had been converted from a replica, was dropped in undergrowth.
The revolver was later found in the VW with a single round having been fired from the chamber.
Mohamud had been trapped in the Volkswagen’s back seat and was found by officers as he emerged. Huseen hid in a garden shed for hours before managing to make his way to London.
Police believed seven men had been in the VW Sharan with two more in the Fiesta. Some left trails of blood from wounds as they fled.
Mohamud, Huseen and Ali were jailed for a total of 75 years in May 2014. Four more men charged with murder had not guilty pleas accepted.
Jailing them, judge Lord Turnbull said: “This is a level of criminality seldom seen in our country and mercifully so.”
In the wake of their sentencing, Abdi’s father, Muslim cleric Omar Abdi, said: “Nothing will bring my son back, but I am relieved to know the persons who committed this terrible crime will no longer be able to hurt anyone else again and I hope no other family will have to suffer as we have.”
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In 2015, a fourth man, Mohammed Ahmed, was also found guilty of killing Abdi. He had fled to Somalia but later returned to the UK.
But the man who actually fired the fatal shots was never identified.
Forensic experts examined the Mac-10 but were not able to conclude which gang member was the shooter.