Name of leader         Ahmed Abdi Godane

 

Organization                  al-Shabaab

 

Conflict country            Somalia

 

Gender                            Male   

    

Year of birth                   1977 [1]

 

Place of birth                 Hargeysa, Somaliland[2]

 

Year of death                 2014 [3]

 

 

Deceased

 

Yes, he was killed by an American airstrike in 2014.

 

Birth order

 

He has four brothers, but his birth order is unknown.[4]

 

Age at start of rebel leadership

 

He became the leader of the organization in December 2007.[5] Therefore, he was about 30 years old.

 

Leader entry method

 

He was appointed as the leader of the organization.[6] He became the leader after the previous leader Adan Hashi Ayro was killed.[7]

 

Powersharing

 

At the beginning of his tenure, there is evidence of powersharing. A source from 2010 states that he was being advised by a council of 10 men during his tenure as rebel leader.[8] Hansen has described the organization as having a centralized administrative leadership in the form of a shura council. Power became less localized as the organization expanded.[9] Another source has stated that al Shabab has a decentralized system with different leaders control different areas of the organization’s territory. Godane has control of operations in Somaliland.[10] In 2010, Human Rights Watch described al-Shabaab as a group of factions with a diverse group of leaders.[11] Another source from that same year speaks of the organization having rival factions. Godane headed the faction that wanted to promote global jihad. Sheikh Mukhtar Robow wanted al Shabab to have local aims and to establish an Islamic state in Somalia only.[12] Robow accused Godane of having a monopoly on the organization’s power.[13]

However, in 2012, Godane consolidated power in the organization.[14] He eliminated both the leadership council and any of his rivals. At the time of his death, many al-Shabaab members considered him a dictator.[15]

 

Education (also name universities attended, if any); note any relevant experiences while a student

 

He studied at the Omar Bin Khadaab Islamic School in Hargeisa. In the 1990s, he studied at an al-Itihaad al-Islamiya (AIAI)-associated school. He studied economics in Pakistan but finished his studies prematurely due to academic struggles. Before that, he studied in Sudan.[16] Another source states that he studied accountancy in Pakistan.[17]

According to a source, he studied at an Islamic school in Pakistan. The source does not specify if this school is the same school where he studied economics or not. [18]   

 

Ever married? If yes, age of first marriage

 

Whether he was ever married is unknown.

 

Children

 

Whether he had children is unknown.

 

Religious identification

 

He practiced Islam.[19]

 

Elite family background

 

His family background is unknown.

 

Political affiliations and intellectual circles; note any relevant social connections made

 

He was a member of the Ifkane Halane courts in 2002. [20]

 

Physical and mental health

 

His health is unknown.

 

Pre-militant leader occupation

 

In 2001, he was an iman to a mosque in Hargeisa.[21]

 

Reportedly, he operated a small supermarket in Somaliland and was an accountant for an airline company.[22]

 

He has also worked at a money-wiring company that operated in Hargeisa.[23]

 

Experience in a state military, and role; any relevant social ties

 

No; there is no evidence that he had experience in a state military.

 

Experience in a nonstate military, and role; any relevant social ties

 

He worked with the Taliban.[24] He was a member of al-Itihad al-Islamiya (AIAI) in the 1990s.[25] He was a secretary general of the executive council of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU).[26]

 

Combat experience prior to assuming resistance organization leadership?

 

He was involved in terrorist attacks in 2003 and 2004. The source does not provide details on his role in the attacks.[27]

He participated in a robbery near Togu Wajale. The source does not provide details on his role.[28]

He allegedly fought in Afghanistan during the 1980s. The source does not provide details on what role he played in the fighting.[29]

 

Held government position prior to assuming leadership?

 

No, there is no evidence that he held a government position.

 

Lived in exile?

 

Whether he lived in exile is unknown.

 

Study abroad?

 

Yes; he studied in Sudan and Pakistan[30]

Did the leader receive military training abroad?

Yes; he received training in Afghanistan under the Taliban[31]

Did the leader have extensive work experience abroad?

It is unknown whether he has extensive work experience abroad.

Serve time in prison? Social connections during that time?

 

He was in prison in Somaliland. The source does not explain why he was in prison or for how long he was there. He was released from prison in 2006. It is believed he was placed in prison some time after 2001.[32]

Godane’s parents were jailed in 2013.[33]

 

Was there an assassination attempt on the leader by the state?

 

There were two assassination attempts in 2014. The first attempt was an airstrike in January 2014 by the Kenyan Defense Forces. The second attempt was also in January 2014 and was a drone strike by the US military.[34]

 

Cause of Death?

 

He died in a U.S. airstrike. Uganda had provided information to U.S. intelligence on his location, and the air strike was done in conjunction with an AMISOM offensive.[35] The United States claimed responsibility for the airstrike.[36]

 

Primary language, and other languages spoken as adult

 

He spoke Somali, [37] and at least wrote some Arabic.[38]

 

 

Image Credit: https://www.ibtimes.co.uk/us-confirms-airstrike-killed-al-shabaab-leader-ahmed-abdi-godane-somalia-1464207

[1] Pecastaing, Camille. Jihad in the Arabian Sea. Stanford: Hoover Institution Press, 2011. 110.

[2] Ibid. “Al-Shabab Reportedly Gaining Foothold in Somaliland”. BBC Monitoring International Reports, April 19, 2012, accessed August 29, 2017. http://infoweb.newsbank.com.lib-ezproxy.tamu.edu:2048/resources/doc/nb/news/13E451511E965A50?p=WORLDNEWS

[3] “How Uganda Helped Kill Al-Shabab Leader”. allAfrica.com, September 17, 2014, accessed August 26, 2017. http://infoweb.newsbank.com.lib-ezproxy.tamu.edu:2048/resources/doc/nb/news/150677095E659208?p=WORLDNEWS

[4] York, Geoffrey. “Al-Shebab is on the Defensive, but its Leader is Still at Large; Heavy-Handed and Unsuccessful Attempts to Capture Ahmed Abdi Godane are Having a Spillover Effect on Family Members, and Could Sprak a Backlash”. The Globe and Mail, June 6, 2013. Accessed August 8, 2018. https://advance-lexis-com.ezproxy.library.tamu.edu/document/?pdmfid=1516831&crid=c7ba7853-2ffa-4fc5-a36e-937407b41b9c&pddocfullpath=%2Fshared%2Fdocument%2Fnews%2Furn%3AcontentItem%3A58KN-9V91-JCS0-V413-00000-00&pddocid=urn%3AcontentItem%3A58KN-9V91-JCS0-V413-00000-00&pdcontentcomponentid=302564&pdteaserkey=sr0&pditab=allpods&ecomp=5fyk&earg=sr0&prid=60133efd-59e0-48f6-a2fd-c36129edce4d.

[5] Hansen, Stig Jarle. Al-Shabaab in Somalia: The History and Ideology of a Militant Islamist Group, 2005-2012. New York: Columbia University Press, 2013. 59.

[6] Harper, Mary. Getting Somalia Wrong?: Faith, War and Hope in a Shattered State. London: Zed Books, 2012. 181.

[7] “Shebab’s Reclusive Supremo: Ahmed Abdi Godane”. Agence France-Presse, September 2, 2014, accessed August 26, 2017. http://infoweb.newsbank.com.lib-ezproxy.tamu.edu:2048/resources/doc/nb/news/1501736A325289B0?p=WORLDNEWS

[8] McConnell, Tristan. “Inside Somalia: Al Shabaab, Ally of Al Qaeda”. GlobalPost: Africa. February 12, 2010, accessed August 28, 2017. http://infoweb.newsbank.com.lib-ezproxy.tamu.edu:2048/resources/doc/nb/news/12DD81AE2905F400?p=WORLDNEWS

[9] Hansen, Stig Jarle. Al Shabaab in Somalia: The History and Ideology of a Militant Islamist Group, 2005-2012. Cary: Oxford University Press, 2013. Accessed September 14, 2017. ProQuest Ebook Central. 18.

[10] “House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights and Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade Hearing- ‘Assessing the Consequences of the Failed State of Somalia’”. Government Press Release (USA), July 8, 2011, accessed August 28, 2017. http://infoweb.newsbank.com.lib-ezproxy.tamu.edu:2048/resources/doc/nb/news/1385F8F0A7B3C5C8?p=WORLDNEWS

[11] “Harsh War, Harsh Peace: Abuses by al-Shabaab, the Transnational Federal Government, and AMISOM in Somalia”. Human Rights Watch, April 19, 2010, accessed September 10, 2017. https://www.hrw.org/report/2010/04/19/harsh-war-harsh-peace/abuses-al-shabaab-transitional-federal-government-and-amisom

[12] “Government Readies Troops for Al Shabaab Assault”. allAfrica.com, March 6, 2010, accessed August 28, 2017. http://infoweb.newsbank.com.lib-ezproxy.tamu.edu:2048/resources/doc/nb/news/12E5808F5D899D70?p=WORLDNEWS

[13] “Open Letter to Al-Zawahiri Rocks Foundations of Al-Shabaab”. allAfrica.com, April 12, 2013, accessed August 29, 2017. http://infoweb.newsbank.com.lib-ezproxy.tamu.edu:2048/resources/doc/nb/news/145B13DB9D25CAC0?p=WORLDNEWS

[14] Menkhaus, Ken and Matt W. Gore. “Kenya: Al-Shabaab’s Regional Campaign” In Africa’s Insurgents: Navigating an Evolving Landscape Edited by Morten Bøas and Keven C. Dunn. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2017. 126.

[15] Odowa, Mohamed and Sinikka Tarvaninen. “FEATURE Godane’s Death Deals Blow to al-Shabaab, but Future Remains Uncertain”. Deutsche Press-Agentur, September 5, 2014, accessed August 26, 2017. http://infoweb.newsbank.com.lib-ezproxy.tamu.edu:2048/resources/doc/nb/news/1502A64D38080268?p=WORLDNEWS

“What Would Godane’s Death Mean for Al-Shabab?”. allAfrica.com, September 5, 2014, accessed August 26, 2017. http://infoweb.newsbank.com.lib-ezproxy.tamu.edu:2048/resources/doc/nb/news/1502D683EE15AB20?p=WORLDNEWS

[16] Hansen, Stig Jarle. Al-Shabaab in Somalia: The History and Ideology of a Militant Islamist Group, 2005-2012. New York: Columbia University Press, 2013. 20, 37.

[17] Roble, Muhyadin Ahmed. “Mukhtar Robow ‘Abu Mansur’: Former Spokesman of al-Shabaab Caught in the Middle of Nowhere” In The Kenyan Face of al-Shabaab: A Militant Leadership Monitor Special Report. Washington D.C.; The Jamestown Foundation, 2015. 9.

[18] “Shebab’s Reclusive Supremo: Ahmed Abdi Godane”.

[19] Pecastaing. 110.

[20] Hansen, Stig Jarle. Al-Shabaab in Somalia: The History and Ideology of a Militant Islamist Group, 2005-2012. New York: Columbia University Press, 2013. 37.

[21] Pecastaing. 110.

[22] “Shebab’s Reclusive Supremo: Ahmed Abdi Godane”.

[23] “Somaliland Silent as ‘Foreign Soldiers’ Help Capture Militants”. allAfrica.com, January 16, 2011, accessed August 28, 2017. http://infoweb.newsbank.com.lib-ezproxy.tamu.edu:2048/resources/doc/nb/news/134D29640BC77120?p=WORLDNEWS

[24] Pecastaing. 110.

[25] Freeman, Colin. “The Sunday Telegraph (United Kingdom): In Search of Africa’s Bin Laden”. The Sunday Telegraph (London, England). July 18, 2010, accessed August 28, 2017. http://infoweb.newsbank.com.lib-ezproxy.tamu.edu:2048/resources/doc/nb/news/13114F1AB9225BA8?p=WORLDNEWS

[26] Jones, Seth G., Andrew M. Liepman, and Nathan Chandler. Counterterrorism and Counterinsurgency in Somalia: Assessing the Campaign Against Al Shabaab. Santa Monica: RAND Corporation, 2016. 13.

[27]Hansen, Stig Jarle. Al-Shabaab in Somalia: The History and Ideology of a Militant Islamist Group, 2005-2012. New York: Columbia University Press, 2013.  37.

[28]Hansen, Stig Jarle. Al-Shabaab in Somalia: The History and Ideology of a Militant Islamist Group, 2005-2012. New York: Columbia University Press, 2013.  37.

[29] McConnell, Tristan. “Another New Start, Another Disaster as Islamists Rob Western-Backed Leader of Power- The Influence of International Terrorism is Growing in Africa, Tristan McConnell Writes in the First of an Exclusive Series on Somalia”. The Times (London, England). December 21, 2009, accessed August 28, 2017. http://infoweb.newsbank.com.lib-ezproxy.tamu.edu:2048/resources/doc/nb/news/12CBECA6DBF17140?p=WORLDNEWS

[30] Hansen, Stig Jarle. Al-Shabaab in Somalia: The History and Ideology of a Militant Islamist Group, 2005-2012. New York: Columbia University Press, 2013. 37.

[31] Pecastaing. 110.

[32] “After Kismayo- What Next for Al-Shabaab and Somalia? [analysis]”. allAfrica.com, October 10,2012, accessed August 29, 2017. http://infoweb.newsbank.com.lib-ezproxy.tamu.edu:2048/resources/doc/nb/news/141D71AF209CB588?p=WORLDNEWS

[33] “Parents of Alshabab Commanders Detained by Somaliland Authorities”. allAfrica.com, May 13, 2013, accessed August 30, 2017. http://infoweb.newsbank.com.lib-ezproxy.tamu.edu:2048/resources/doc/nb/news/1464A2115845F188?p=WORLDNEWS

[34] “Al-Shabaab Leader on the Run After Two Near-Death Misses”. allAfrica.com, February 7, 2014, accessed August 26, 2017. http://infoweb.newsbank.com.lib-ezproxy.tamu.edu:2048/resources/doc/nb/news/14BE4C830EDE7138?p=WORLDNEWS

[35] “How Uganda Helped Kill Al-Shabab Leader”/

[36] “World Report 2015: Somalia”. Human Rights Watch, 2015, accessed September 10, 2017. https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2015/country-chapters/somalia

[37] McConnell, Tristan. “The Hard-Bitten Terrorist Who Wields Pen and Sword”. The Times (London, England), September 27, 2013, accessed August 26, 2017. http://infoweb.newsbank.com.lib-ezproxy.tamu.edu:2048/resources/doc/nb/news/1491696E9D9103F8?p=WORLDNEWS

[38] “Al-Shabaab Leader Twists Islamic Tenets to Enforce Obedience, Justify Killings”. allAfrica.com, June 28, 2013, accessed August 30, 2017. http://infoweb.newsbank.com.lib-ezproxy.tamu.edu:2048/resources/doc/nb/news/1474748A7889B1A0?p=WORLDNEWS