Somalia: how will spy agency NISA operate under new intelligence chief Mahad Salad?
Opion by Abdallah D. Aw Hersi*
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud appointed Mahad Salad, an MP, to become the Director of National Intelligence and Security Agency. He will take over from the acting director Yasin Farey, appointed by the former President.
Between 2012 and 2017 President Mohamud appointed two NISA directors. Abdullahi Mohamed Ali Sanbaloolshe unsuccessfully tried to disarm dormant warlords such as Ahmed Da’i, who moonlighted as the Wadajir district commissioner. His successor, Abdurahman Mohamud Turyare, coined UGUS, in reference to Al-shabaab, without degrading the capabilities of the proscribed group. In 2014, a Mogadishu-based clan accused NISA of profiling “Murursade travellers to Ethiopia.” Similar accusations has not been levelled against NISA under Fahad Yasin or Yasin Farey. Only Sanbaloolshe had been found complicit in the extradition of Abdikarim Qalbidhagah to Ethiopia in 2017.
The new NISA director, Mahad Salad, campaigned against “repressive policies” of an administration that reformed NISA. His appointment unsurprisingly marks a low point for the new administration for two reasons. 1- Mahad, like the new national security adviser, belong to the same social group as President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s. 2- The appointment rests on the flawed reasoning that Al-shabaab and its affiliates are a problem for clans that claim Mogadishu as their stronghold.
A president who is self-conscious about reputational damages from embezzlement might not see the potential of security-related decisions to shortchange his administration.
Mahad Salad supported a parallel army in Mogadishu when the previous parliament passed a controversial term extension for the former Somalia President. He is also a member of Union for Peace and Development Party, the incumbent President’s political party. NISA under the directorship of Mahad Salad is a compromised security institution from the get-go.
Abdallah D. Aw Hersi is a counterterrorism expert in Puntland State of Somalia.