May 2010 Briefs

Publication: Militant Leadership Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 5


Shaykh Fuad Muhammad Khalaf (a.k.a. Fuad Shongole) was wounded in a large bombing in Mogadishu’s Abdallah Shidiye mosque which took the lives of at least 30 people and wounding scores of others in the Somali capital’s infamous Bakara market (Reuters, May 1, 2010). Khalaf, a leading al-Shabaab figure, is described at times as a military commander, as a spiritual leader and as a fundraiser for the insurgents according to the UN. [1] Khalaf, a dual Swedish-Somali citizen, was reportedly preaching in the mosque when it was rocked by double-bombings that detonated just minutes apart. Mines were laid on two floors whereby the second explosion targeted the fleeing survivors of the first blast (Mareeg, May 2, 2010). While conceivable that the attack may have been an assassination attempt on Khalaf by rival Hizb ul-Islam fighters who operate in the same space, al-Shabaab spokesmen vaguely placed blame on “foreign companies” at work in Mogadishu (Radio Horseed, May 1, 2010).

Shaykh Ali Muhammad Husayn, a leading al-Shabaab figure in the greater Banaadir Region, held a telephoned press conference for local reporters in Mogadishu commenting on the mosque blast that hit his colleague, describing the attack as “an unforgettable lesson” (Shabelle Media Network, May 2, 2010). Husayn went further to say the militias in the region under his tutelage should continue to wage war against the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) under the guise of “resisting aggression” (Shabelle Media Network, May 2, 2010). Khalaf appeared at the partly ruined house of worship the following day in a demonstration of his resilience, telling those gathered, “I am alive, and did not sustain much injuries” and accusing the United States of “using Somali infidels” to devastate the mosque and kill dozens of his al-Shabaab acolytes (Dayniile online, May 3, 2010). TFG Defense Minister Yusuf Siyad Indha Adde told Somali radio listeners that it was neither an attack from a rival militia, nor from a Western-backed proxy, but a deadly rift within the al-Shabaab movement that caused the destruction at the Abdallah Shidiye mosque (Voice of Mudug, May 3, 2010). Many Somalis expressed shock at an attack on a mosque, a tactic that had previously been out of bounds until very recently and appeared to locals to be an import from the sectarian warfare in Iraq.


1. According to a list of most the problematic Somali groups and leaders for Somalia and the international efforts there, the UN Security Council has written that, “Khalaf has facilitated financial support to al-Shabaab; in May 2008, he held two fundraising events for al-Shabaab at mosques in Kismaayo, Somalia.  In April 2008, Khalaf and several other individuals directed vehicle borne explosive device attacks on Ethiopian bases and Somali Transitional Federal Government elements in Mogadishu.” See


Abdolhamid Rigi, the brother of captured Jundullah leader Abdolmalek Rigi, was hanged in Zahedan, the capital of Sistan-Baluchistan Province on Monday, May 24, 2010 (Reuters, May 24, 2010). According to a spokesman from the judiciary’s public relations department, director-general of the Sistan-Baluchistan Justice Department Hojjat ol-Eslam val Moslemin Ebrahim Hamidi stated Rigi, described as Jundullah’s second-in-command, was executed for “waging a war against God” and providing support to his brother’s terrorist group (Fars News Agency, May 24, 2010). Rigi was blamed for the May 28, 2009 suicide bombing attack on the well-known Shia Amir al-Mohini mosque in Zahedan. The Zahedan Revolutionary Court sentenced Rigi to death on January 21, 2010, stating that he was “living proof of ‘the presence of bandits’ in Pakistan” (Fars News Agency, January 21, 2010). Zahedan’s Prosecutor General Mohammad Marzieh told local press that some families of the 20 victims (some sources report there were up to 25 victims) of the May 28, 2009 attack were present during his execution (Iranian Students News Agency, May 24, 2010).

Iran’s quixotic, millenarian Shia leadership continues to claim that the Rigi brothers were being simultaneously supported by Pakistan, the United States and the UK (and sometimes throwing in Israel for good measure) while being allied with al-Qaeda in a grand conspiracy to destabilize the Iranian regime from within its borders by fomenting unrest in ethnic-Baloch Sunni regions of the country’s southeast (Iranian Labor News Agency, May 24, 2010). The regime described Abdolhamid Rigi as a mohareb, a Farsi-language term meaning “an enemy of God.” To be declared a mohareb is a crime punishable by death in the Islamic Republic of Iran according to its implementation of Shari’a law since 1979 (Mehr News Agency, May 24, 2010). [1] Iranian state television reported that Abdolhamid Rigi purportedly confessed to Jundullah receiving some form of covert American support (though no evidence has been thus far presented) as well as being involved in armed robbery, weapons smuggling and drugs trafficking alongside terrorism charges (Press TV, May 24, 2010).

Jundullah’s leader, Abdolmalek Rigi, who was captured under somewhat mysterious circumstances on February 23, 2010 en route from Dubai to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, may very well meet the same fate as his now late brother (see Militant Leadership Monitor, February 2010; Terrorism Monitor, April 2, 2010). Just days before his sibling’s execution, Abdolmalek was quoted as saying “A high-ranking CIA official said it would be difficult for them to launch a military strike on Iran, but they had a plan to help any anti-government group or organization with the potential to pick up arms, and fight the Islamic Republic and not just any country. He told me that my group had the ability to pose a serious challenge to the Iranian government” (Tehran Times, May 23, 2010). Abdolmalek’s capture and Abdolhamid’s hanging are undoubtedly a robust message to the rest of Jundullah’s members that Tehran is out to destroy their movement.  Hojjat ol-Eslam val Moslemin Ebrahim Hamidi said that an offer of amnesty remains on the table for group members willing to come in from the cold and “repent” for their terrorist endeavors (Tehran Times, May 25, 2010).


1. The Iranian regime uses the term mohareb to eliminate genuine terrorists as well as to tar the in genuine political opposition as enemies of the republic such as the supporters of Mir Hussein Mousavi after the disputed June 12, 2009 presidential election. Hardline Ayatollah Ahmed Khatami told a Tehran University audience that Green Movement protest leaders “were ‘rioting’ in defiance of God’s will” (Daily Telegraph, June 26, 2009).