Search
  • hannahnglobalanaly

FLASH ALERT: INCREASED RISK OF AL-SHABAAB ATTACKS FOLLOWING THE HAYAT HOTEL TERROR ATTACK

Francesca Fiore, Mitchell Dallas, Nancy Lattimer, Meaghan Mackey, Amine Sahli, AFRICOM

Rohan Rajesh, Justin Maurina, Editor; Hannah Norton, Senior Editor

August 20, 2022



Hayat Hotel terror attack in Mogadishu Somalia[1]



The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) is issuing a FLASH ALERT for Somalia following the al-Shabaab terrorist organization attack of a Mogadishu hotel late Friday, August 19, that has killed at least 15 civilians.[2] Fighting between security forces and al-Shabaab militants continued into early Saturday, August 20. Al-Shabaab is almost certainly seeking to destabilize the Somali government by attacking the capital and will very likely attempt similar attacks in the future.


CTG is on HIGH alert due to the HIGH likelihood of future al-Shabaab attacks in Mogadishu and other parts of Somalia. This year, al-Shabaab has been prolific, carrying out attacks against civilians, government officials, and military personnel in different locations. Al-Shabaab will ALMOST CERTAINLY keep attacking hotels government officials are known to frequent, ALMOST CERTAINLY to destabilize the Somali government. Al-Shabaab will VERY LIKELY carry out similar attacks in the future as they progressively expand operations toward Mogadishu.


On Friday, August 19, 2022, al-Shabaab militants conducted a complex attack targeting the Hayat Hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia. Militants detonated two car bombs near the hotel before a team of gunmen entered the hotel.[3] Gunmen killed at least 15 people before taking an unknown number of hostages and barricading themselves on the second floor of the hotel.[4] Militants also detonated explosives to seal off stairwell access within the building, complicating potential hostage rescue efforts.[5] The car bombs and other detonations have destroyed large portions of the hotel.[6] The two major hospitals in Mogadishu are on high alert, still admitting casualties.[7] Somali security forces remain on scene, working to free the hostages.[8] The hotel is currently under siege.[9]


Since 2006, the group has waged an Islamist insurgency to topple Somalia’s federal government.[10] Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for attacking other hotels in Mogadishu between 2012 and 2017.[11] These attacks, including the one conducted on Friday, targeted hotels popular amongst government officials and lawmakers.[12] In 2012, the terrorist group conducted a suicide bombing targeting a hotel visited by former President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.[13]


Al-Shabaab will very likely continue to conduct high-profile attacks in Mogadishu as part of its ongoing campaign to destabilize the Somali Government. Al-Shabaab almost certainly targeted the hotel due to its popularity with Somali government officials and will likely conduct similar attacks at other venues that frequently host lawmakers and other officials. Al-Shabaab will likely also attempt to increase its attacks on security forces in Mogadishu to highlight the government’s inability to provide for Mogadishu residents’ safety.


Somali security forces are unlikely to prevent future attacks on high-profile locations and will likely instead conduct operations focused on eliminating as many militants as possible rather than rooting out the cells responsible for attacks in Mogadishu. The Somali security forces will very likely seek US air support and intelligence capabilities to enable these operations. Somali operations to eliminate al-Shabaab militants will likely lead to civilian casualties that risk further alienating segments of the population and expanding al-Shabaab’s recruiting pool.


The death and wounded toll will almost certainly rise when the siege ends. There is a roughly even chance a secondary attack will occur to target first responders and security forces in the aftermath of the attack. Mogadishu hospitals will very likely struggle to address the number of wounded and will likely need to triage patients. This will likely cause tensions with the families of the wounded, very likely straining medical personnel and hindering proper care.


CTG AFRICOM Team assesses that the current threat climate is HIGH because of the recent expansion of al-Shabaab’s presence and operations. Due to the number of high-profile attacks recently, al-Shabaab likely strengthened its terrorist capacity and is likely capable of more devastating attacks in the future. Al-Shabaab’s targets will likely include critical infrastructure and key government officials.


Analysis indicates that there is a HIGH PROBABILITY al-Shabaab’s success in conducting the siege will encourage similar attacks in the future. The inability of security forces to prevent the attack will likely further al-Shabaab’s mission to destabilize the government. There is a HIGH PROBABILITY al-Shabaab will expand its attacks into urban areas. This will likely lead to a strain on security forces in large Somali cities.


CTG’s AFRICOM Team recommends that Somali authorities increase police and military presence in Mogadishu, including the establishment of security checkpoints at all key city entrances, to deter potential attacks. The government should strengthen its information-sharing systems with partner intelligence agencies to identify and neutralize al-Shabaab militants. Somali government officials should keep their travel and meeting plans on a need-to-know basis to avoid being targeted in public locations, and should conduct their official business within government premises. The hospitality industry should conduct robust risk assessments and work with the government to implement mitigation plans to prevent future attacks.

 

[1]Hayat Hotel terror attack in Mogadishu Somalia” by Tigin Taagane licenced under Creative Commons

[2] Mogadishu hotel attack: Death toll rises, CNN, August 2022, https://edition.cnn.com/2022/08/19/africa/hotel-explosions-mogadishu-somalia-intl/index.html

[3] At least 12 killed as Somalia hotel siege enters second day, Reuters, August 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/least-12-killed-somalia-hotel-siege-intelligence-officer-says-2022-08-20/

[4] Mogadishu hotel attack: Death toll rises, CNN, August 2022, https://edition.cnn.com/2022/08/19/africa/hotel-explosions-mogadishu-somalia-intl/index.html

[5] At least 12 killed as Somalia hotel siege enters second day, Reuters, August 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/least-12-killed-somalia-hotel-siege-intelligence-officer-says-2022-08-20/

[6] Ibid

[7] Mogadishu hotel attack: Death toll rises, CNN, August 2022, https://edition.cnn.com/2022/08/19/africa/hotel-explosions-mogadishu-somalia-intl/index.html

[8] At least 12 killed as Somalia hotel siege enters second day, Reuters, August 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/least-12-killed-somalia-hotel-siege-intelligence-officer-says-2022-08-20/

[9] Death toll mounts as Somali forces battle to end al-Shabaab hotel siege, France 24, August 2022, https://www.france24.com/en/africa/20220820-several-civilians-killed-in-an-al-shabaab-attack-on-a-hotel-in-somalia

[10] Considering Political Engagement with Al-Shabaab in Somalia, International Crisis Group, July 2022, https://www.crisisgroup.org/africa/horn-africa/somalia/309-considering-political-engagement-al-shabaab-somalia

[11] Deadly al Shabaab attack strikes Somali hotel, France 24, July 2015, https://www.france24.com/en/20150726-somalia-deadly-al-shabaab-attack-mogadishu-hotel

[12] At least 12 killed as Somalia hotel siege enters second day, Reuters, August 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/least-12-killed-somalia-hotel-siege-intelligence-officer-says-2022-08-20/

[13] Deadly al Shabaab attack strikes Somali hotel, France 24, July 2015, https://www.france24.com/en/20150726-somalia-deadly-al-shabaab-attack-mogadishu-hotel

289 views