The situation in Somalia has shown positive signs of stabilizing from frequent terror attacks with development partners such us USAID and East Africa regional integration officials holding key meetings with leaders and different groups in Somalia. With the likelihood of managing the Al Shabaab threats, the country seems to be on course for development and rebuilding of the liberated territories. However, the humanitarian situation continues to challenge a significant majority of the population with reports alluding to repatriated refugees from Dadaab returning to the refugee camps in Kenya. Vulnerable populations are more likely to fall victim to Al Shabaab propaganda and recruitment strategies further complicating the total war announced by President Hassan.

Terror operations; pressure continued to mount on Al Shabaab from all possible fronts. Operations targeting Al shabaab intensified in January from both Somali government and international partners. Somali President sought to dismantle the group’s ideological lines castigating and questioning Al shabaab’s justification and rationality of harming and killing Somali citizens who are dominantly Muslims.[1] President Hassan challenged and sought the help of Somali religious scholars in advising and giving guidance to religious issues in the country to build cohesion and tame ideological and theological disinformation from terror groups. Capturing Al-Shabaab’s Radio Andalus station likely dealt a blow to the group’s disinformation and propaganda campaign. The operations are also expected to expand to the other regions especially the South West of the country following the steady wins in the Central region and with the increase in government’s ability to respond in terms of trained personnel and technical logistical supplies. The local people and regional governments continue to be instrumental in the Federal government’s onslaught on Al Shabaab. The locals and regional govenernments such as Jubaland have announced successful partnerships with Federal troupes that have led to liberation of more territories. President Hassan also moved with speed to quell the leadership disquiet in Baidoa which has turned into an armed confrontation threatening the offensive on Al Shabaab.

United States conducted successful targeted strikes in support of Somali forces in Xaradheere, Galcad and other areas eliminating the militants. Bilal al-Sudani was one of the high profile jihad leaders to be eliminated on the announcement made on 26 January. Al Sudan is a former Al Shabaab member who defected to ISIS together with Abdulkafir Mumin, leader of Islamic State Somalia.[2] Kenya also intensified vigilance in the border areas in the North Eastern areas following Al shabaabs’ execution of four engineers inspecting development projects. At least 10 militants were neutralized in the Garissa recovering IEDs and rocket propelled granades. Kenya and US also intensified search for the Al Shabaab operatives responsible for the attacks in Kenya and US base in Manda Bay.[3] Rewards were announced for information leading the capture of al Shabaab masterminds of the DusitD2 hotel in Nairobi and Al shabaab operatives in coastal areas of Kenya. A lump sum of 10M USD has been offered for the arrest of Mohamoud Abdi Aden for the hotel attack. A similar amount is also available for information on wanted Maalim Ayman, Abdullahi Banati, Ramadhan Kioko and Abdikadir Mohamed Abdikadir for the Manda Bay attack.[4]

Leadership; Al Shabaab is increasingly concerned with the health of its leader and emir Ahmed Diriye who has been sick for a while with unverified reports early this indicating he had succumbed to Kidney cancer.[5] Succession has likely unsettled the group with Sheikh Warsame and Adan likely to be preferred by the Shura council as possible replacements for the emir. The wavy leadership saw the group blow up an opportunity for dialogue amid survival threats from government’s heightened offensive.[6]

Attacks; Al Shabaab continued to resist onslaught and launched retaliatory attacks with limited success. An attack on mayor’s office in Mogadishu captured news headlines but it was quickly repulsed by the Somali forces killing all 6 assailants within hours. Similar to Al shabaab’s major attacks, the siege on mayor’s office started with a detonation of explosives followed by gunmen around prayer time.[7] Al shabaab also targeted peoples livelihoods for supporting government forces. The militants are reported to have slaughtered huge herds of livestock in the Hiraan region. Attacks on security installations continued with huge convoys of Al Shabaab militants repulsed while trying to take over a Somali Federal forces base in Galcad. Casualities were reported on both sides with the government losing the Deputy Commander of the 16th battalion of Danab Hassan Tuure. However, it has become increasingly difficult to verify casuality figures claimed by government and al shabaab during operations and attacks respectively.




Summary of Major Activities in January 2023

1Government and local forces take control of Masagawa from Al shabaab 
4Double suicide bombings by Al shabaab militants in the city of Mahas leaving 35 dead
6Militants kill six civilians in raid on village they recently lost from Somali army operation
9Somali security forces and international partners conduct operation in Middle Shabelle to repel attack on military base
11Al shabaab kill four construction workers in Taita Taveta county in Kenya
12Somalia's security forces, backed by local clan militia forces, intercept two Al shabaab militant vehicles loaded with explosives 
13Somali security forces kill local Islamic State leader in Puntland
14Federal forces along with Galmudug regional soldiers and community fighters take control of a strategic village of Elbur, a few kilometers away from the Al-Shabaab’s main stronghold – Harardhere city.
1415 people killed and more than 50 injured in three bombings in the central Hirshabelle state of Somalia
14Somali Security Forces Seize Weapons, arrest Al-Shabab suspect in Mogadishu
14Two car bombs set off simultaneously by Alshabaab militants near a military checkpoint and school in Jalalaqsi 
14Blast in Buluburte district set off by Al Shabaab suicide bomber near the town's main mosque
16Somali National Army and African Union ATMIS forces repel an ambush attack from militants in Shalanbod region
16Militia open fire on the suicide car bomber forcing the bomber to detonate his device before reaching the government security forces headquarter
16Somali National Army (SNA) forces take over Harardhere port town
17Al Shabaab militant attack on the Hawadley military base 
17Somali government forces and local forces capture Al-Shabaab from El Dheer district in Galgudud region
18Somali army, local tribes, and US forces cary out surprise attack against Al-Shabaab on a farm in the Hawadley village
19Kenyan security forces attack Al-Shabaab operatives in the village of Galmagalla
19Somali army attack an Al-Shabaab camp in the village of Goof-Gaduud
20Seven Somali soldiers killed in Shabaab attack on military camp 
20U.S. Africa Command conduct a collective self-defense strike in region where Somalia National Army forces were engaged in heavy fighting
22Al shabaab militants lay siege and attack on Mogadishu mayor’s office and local government facilities.
23Airstrike against Al-Shabaab in the Southern Mudug region
26Special operations force kill a senior Islamic State group official and 10 other terrorist operatives in remote northern Somalia
28Al shabaab militant assassinate Regional State Minister for transport and aviation in Mogadishu

[1] SONNA [@SONNALIVE], “‘Somalia Is an Islamic Country and Its People Are Muslims. The Al-Shabaab Terrorists Have No Justification for Shedding the Blood of the Somali People’, President Hassan Said. #Somalia Https://T.Co/PHDkc2Gv7H,” Tweet, Twitter, January 25, 2023,

[2] US AFRICOM [@USAfricaCommand], “The U.S. Military Conducted a Successful Counterterrorism Operation in Somalia. Https://Bit.Ly/3DlvEBx Https://T.Co/HHIW8VC3nZ,” Tweet, Twitter, January 26, 2023,

[3] Rewards for Justice [@RFJ_USA], “On January 5, 2020, Dozens of al-Shabaab Terrorists Attacked U.S. Personnel at a Military Base in Manda Bay, Kenya.  Https://T.Co/DpbpH42RJV,” Tweet, Twitter, January 5, 2023,

[4] U.S. Ambassador Meg Whitman [@USAmbKenya], “This Afternoon @DCI_Kenya Director and I Announced a Reward of up to $10 Million for Information Leading to the Arrest or Conviction in Any Country of Mohamoud Abdi Aden and Other Individuals Responsible for the 2019 Attack on the DusitD2 Hotel Complex in Nairobi. Https://T.Co/YVDPyKU7Wp,” Tweet, Twitter, January 12, 2023,

[5] Rashid Abdi [@RAbdiAnalyst], “#BREAKING (Unconfirmed/Credible Source) Al-Shabaab’s Supreme Leader (Emir) Ahmed Diriye ‘Abu Ubaydah’ Has Died. Https://T.Co/JRbl7sBRCy,” Tweet, Twitter, January 18, 2023,

[6] Harun Maruf [@HarunMaruf], “Al-Shabaab Did Not Request Talks with Somali Government Https://T.Co/Q2U7YCMS5v,” Tweet, Twitter, January 8, 2023,

[7] feisal omar [@feisalomar], “A Member of the Somali Security Forces Runs to His Position near the Mayor’s Office Following a Blast in Mogadishu, Somalia January 22, 2023. REUTERS/Feisal Omar Https://T.Co/CbK4vzgZcq,” Tweet, Twitter, January 22, 2023,

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