On July 24, this year, a female suicide bomber walked into a security meeting being held at the office of Mogadishu mayor Abdirahman Omar Osman and blew herself up killing seven and injuring several others.
Al-Shabaab terrorists claimed responsibility for the attack, telling local media that UN envoy to Somalia James Swan, who had left the building when the attack happened, was their target. Mr Osman was critically injured in the blast and later died in Qatar where he was receiving treatment.
This was the fourth known time Al-Shabaab has used a woman in a suicide attack. Now the frequency at which it is deploying women in their attack missions is alarming regional security agencies.
Not only are they concerned by the high rate at which the Al-Qaeda-affiliated group is recruiting young well- educated women, but are also wary about the high profile positions it is giving them in the insurgency movement.
A confidential Kenyan security brief seen by the Sunday Nation reveals that the jihadi organisation is increasingly giving the young women prominent roles in carrying out intelligence operations and attacks, as they are less likely to attract attention. A significant number of women is currently thought to be undergoing training un Somalia, some of them Kenyan
“Police sources indicate that Al-Shabaab is training women to be deployed as facilitators, logisticians and even as attackers in Somalia, Kenya and other East African countries,” said the security report.
Previously it was thought widely that women were primarily recruited by Al-Shabaab as brides for fighters and were meant to cook and clean in the militants’ camps. However more women are now assuming greater roles in active combat, intelligence gathering, planning, coordination, and execution of attacks, according to the intelligence report.
On Saturday, Inspector General (IG) of Police Hillary Mutyambai said security agencies were on high alert. “We are aware that Al-Shabaab is changing tack and increasingly using women as facilitators and spies, not just brides for the fighters. More women are being trained to take up more senior roles that were reserved for men,” he said.
The IG said this should be “a wake-up call to the security agencies and members of the public to be on the lookout”. He said police had been properly briefed on the matter but urged private security guards manning various facilities to ensure they do thorough scrutiny.”
The Kenyan security report adds that some of the women are to be deployed to befriend government officials and identify loopholes in security and report to Al-Shabaab for planning of the attacks.
The most recent high-profile case involved Violet Kemunto who was the wife of Ali Salim Gichunge, aka Farouk, the mastermind of the DusitD2 hotel complex attack in January this year.
Kemunto is said believed to have facilitated the welfare of Gichunge and his fellow attackers. Police believe that she fled to Somalia on the day of the attack that claimed 20 lives.
Another female accomplice, Miriam Abdi, whom is believed to have played a central role in the delivery of the deadly weapons used in the attack is still on the run.
The new trend of Al-Shabaab recruiting an alarmingly high number of women into their rank and file is mainly because women are less lily to raise suspicious when undertaking terror activities.
“Unlike men, women are considered by society to be less violent and therefore may escape scrutiny by security officers,” said the security brief.
The first recorded instance Al-Shabaab deployed a female suicide bomber was on June 2011 when Somalia’s interior minister Abdishakur Sheikh Hassan was killed by his teenage niece in a suicide bomb attack in his house…….
Source: Daily Nation