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Fazul Abdullah Mohammed

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Fazul Abdullah Mohammed
Nickname(s)Abdallah Mohammed Fazul[1]
Abu Seif al-Sudani
Abu Aish
Abu Fadl al-Qamari
Abu Luqman
Fadel Abdallah Mohammed Ali
Fouad Mohammed
Harun Al-Qamar
Fadil Harun
Harun Fazul
Yaqoub al-Dusari
Born1972 or 1974
Moroni, Comoros
Died8 June 2011(2011-06-08) (aged 38–39) [2]
Mogadishu, Benadir, Somalia[2]
Allegiance Al-Qaeda
Service/branch Al-Qaeda in East Africa
Years of service1990–2011
Commands heldHead of Al-Qaeda in East Africa
Battles/warsSomali Civil War

Fazul Abdullah Mohammed (Arabic: فاضل عبدالله محمد) (1972 or 1974 – 8 June 2011, also known as Fadil Harun[3]) was a Comorian-Kenyan member of al-Qaeda, and the leader of its presence in East Africa.[4] Mohammed was born in Moroni, Comoros Islands and had Kenyan as well as Comorian citizenship. He spoke French, Swahili, Arabic, English, and Comorian.[5]

Role in al-Qaeda[edit]

Mohammed and a number of others were under indictment[6] in the United States for their alleged participation in the 1998 United States embassy bombings in East Africa. He was searched with an Interpol arrest warrant since 1998.[7] Mohammed was on the FBI's list of most wanted terrorists since its inception on 10 October 2001. The reward for finding Mohammed was US$5 million.[5][8]

In Kenya, Mohammed was once the secretary of, and lived in the same house as, Wadih el-Hage. El-Hage was indicted with Mohammed,[6] and has been convicted. A letter to el-Hage, thought to be from Mohammed, was exhibited at el-Hage's trial.[9]

Mohammed spent time in Mogadishu planning a truck bombing against a United Nations establishment there, and was in the city on 3 October 1993, when Somali gunmen brought down two American helicopters and killed 18 U.S. special operations soldiers.[10]

War on Terror[edit]

Mohammed was suspected in Kenya of involvement in two attacks in Mombasa on 26 November 2002. One was the truck bombing of Paradise Hotel, in which 15 were killed. The other was the launch of two shoulder-fired missiles at an Israeli airliner on takeoff; the missiles missed and there were no casualties.[11][12]

On 26 May 2004, United States Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller announced that reports indicated that Mohammed was one of seven al-Qaeda members who were planning a terrorist action for the summer or fall of 2004.[13] American Democrats[who?] labeled the warning "suspicious" and said it was held solely to divert attention from President Bush's declining poll numbers and to push the failings of the 2003 invasion of Iraq off the front page.[14] CSIS director Reid Morden voiced similar concerns, saying it seemed more like "election year" politics, than an actual threat. The New York Times pointed out that one day before the announcement, they had been told by the Department of Homeland Security that there were no current risks.[14]

According to an FBI interrogation report, an associate of Mohammed confessed that the militant trained with al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan.[15] Ahmed Ghailani, also on that list, was captured in Pakistan a month later. Soon thereafter, several press reports, claiming UN and official US sources, described the participation of several al-Qaeda personnel, including Mohammed and Ghailani, in the acquisition and movement of diamonds in Liberia.[16]

When the ferry MV Bukoba sank in Lake Victoria in 1996, taking al-Qaeda co-founder Abu Ubaidah al-Banshiri with it, Mohammed was one of the individuals sent to the scene by al-Qaeda, attempting to verify that Abu Ubaidah had drowned, and had not in fact been murdered.[17]

Suspected involvement in Somali conflict[edit]

In early 2007, during the War in Somalia, Mohammed was thought to be in the border area near Ras Kamboni, along with remnants of the Islamic Courts Union. On 8 January 2007, a US Air Force AC-130 gunship targeted al-Qaeda in the area. It is likely he was one of the targets as The Pentagon has said the "target of the strike was the principal al-Qaeda leadership in the region."[18][19][20] Somali government officials said that his death was confirmed in an intelligence report provided to Somali authorities by the United States.[15] However, in an interview with the BBC, the US ambassador to Kenya, Michael Ranneberger, denied that Mohammed had been killed in the airstrike.[21] The gunship attack resulted in the deaths of at least 70 civilian nomads and many more injuries as they were searching for a water source at night.[22]

One of Mohammed's wives and her children were captured trying to escape to Kenya from Somalia. They were arrested in Kiunga and brought to Nairobi for questioning.[23] Before Mohammed's wife was deported back to Somalia by the Kenyan government, a computer in her possession thought to have been Mohammed's was seized and was said to have "contained vital information on terrorism training and intelligence collection including spying".[24] Mohammed was believed to "be very good with computers".[5]

While it was never confirmed that Mohammed escaped from the fighting in Somalia or had even been there when the violence broke out, Madagascar's largest newspaper, Midi Madagasikara, reported in early February 2007, that Mohammed was currently residing in the island nation. This is in contrast to the statement by Abdirizak Hassain, saying that Mohammed was killed in the Battle of Ras Kamboni by a U.S. airstrike. Quoting military and "other sources," the newspaper claimed he was in the city of Mahajanga. A partner of his from the Comoros currently resides on the island.[citation needed]

On 2 August 2008, Mohammed supposedly escaped a police dragnet in Malindi, Kenya, but two of his aides were arrested. He was said to have been covertly taken into Kenya from Somalia a few days previously, seeking treatment for kidney problems. The police confiscated two of his passports and a laptop, among other belongings. The police operation took place several days before the 10th anniversary of the 1998 Embassy bombings.[25][26]

Al-Qaeda top commander in East Africa[edit]

On 11 November 2009, Mohammed's consecration as commander took place in an open ceremony in the southern Somali city of Kismayo, according to a translation received by The Long War Journal of an article posted on Waaga Cusub, a pro-insurgency website, run by a Somali clan, the Hawiye. According to the website, he "delivered his longest speech delivered his longest speech [sic]".[4] Referring to his appointment by Osama bin Laden and praising his predecessor, Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, killed by US special forces in mid-September, Mohammed acknowledged his role in the 1998 US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. He promised that al-Qaeda would take the fight to neighboring countries. "Praise be to God," Mohammed said. "After Somalia we will proceed to Djibouti, Kenya, and Ethiopia."[4]

After the July 2010 Kampala attacks in nearby Uganda, which targeted people watching screenings of the World Cup final, Shabaab's spiritual leader, Sheikh Mukhtar Abu Zubayr threatened to carry out further attacks on foreign soil, in particular in Burundi and Uganda, due to the presence of peacekeeping troops from these countries in Somalia. He named the group that perpetrated the attacks as the Saleh Ali Nabhan Brigade which was likely led or directed by Mohammed at the time.[27]

Mohammed's role as Shabaab's military leader, as well as the involvement of other foreign al-Qaeda commanders in Somalia, was confirmed in a report compiled by the African Union Mission for Somalia, and published in The EastAfrican. A US intelligence operative, specializing in the al-Shabaab group, confirmed the information to a website specialized in reporting on the war on terror.[28]


Mohammed and a Kenyan extremist, thought to be Musa Hussein (a.k.a. Musa Sambayo), were driving in a car carrying $40,000 in United States dollars, as well as medicine, telephones, laptops and a South African passport in the Afgooye corridor, northwest of Mogadishu, on 7 June 2011. Musa Hussein was known to Mohammed as Abdullahi Dere and is believed to have been involved in funding operations for al-Shabaab.[29] At around 11:15 p.m., the car was stopped at a security checkpoint managed by the Somalian military (SNA) in the Sarkuusta area, in southwest Mogadishu. Captain Hassan Mohamed Abukar ordered the driver to switch on the light inside the car. The driver followed the order but switched the light on and off too quickly for the soldiers to identify the people in the car; then one of the occupants opened fire. An order was given to open fire on the car. Two occupants in the car were killed and buried in Mogadishu within 24 hours. At least one other occupant escaped.[30] Somalia's National Security Agency suspected one of the dead to be Fazul after examination of the belongings; DNA tests subsequently confirmed his identity.[31] Documents found on his body indicated he was planning a number of attacks in Britain, one of which targeted the notable Eton College.[32]

Mohammed's death was confirmed by Somali and U.S. government officials and was characterized by the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as "a significant blow to Al Qaeda, its extremist allies and its operations in East Africa."[33]


  1. ^ "PBS story on FAM and al-Hage". Pbs.org. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  2. ^ a b "East Africa embassy bomber Fazul Abdullah killed". BBC. 11 June 2011. Retrieved 12 June 2011.
  3. ^ Nelly Lahoud, Beware of Imitators: Al-Qa'ida Through the Lens of its Confidential Secretary (West Point: Harmony Project, 2012) p.9
  4. ^ a b c Bill Roggio (11 November 2009). "Al Qaeda names Fazul Mohammed East African commander". The Long War Journal. Retrieved 12 June 2011.
  5. ^ a b c Fazul Abdullah Mohammed Archived 22 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine, Federal Bureau of Investigation, US Department of Justice
  6. ^ a b Copy of indictment USA v. Usama bin Laden et al., Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Monterey Institute of International Studies
  7. ^ "Wanted: Fazul, Abdullah Mohammed". Interpol. Archived from the original on 11 December 2004. Retrieved 6 September 2011.
  8. ^ Fazul Abdullah Mohammed Archived 26 November 2005 at the Wayback Machine, Rewards for Justice Program, US Department of State
  9. ^ Letter to el-Hage, PBS, 2001
  10. ^ Benjamin, Daniel & Steven Simon. "The Age of Sacred Terror", 2002
  11. ^ CBS reports that Mohammed is wanted in Kenya, 10 January 2007
  12. ^ Aronson, Samuel. "Crime and Development in Kenya". Studentpulse.com. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  13. ^ Transcript: Ashcroft, Mueller news conference, CNN, 26 May 2004
  14. ^ a b Pither, Kerry. "Dark Days: The Story of Four Canadians Tortured in the Name of Fighting Terror", 2008.
  15. ^ a b Al Qaeda militant killed Archived 27 January 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ Liberia's Taylor gave aid to Qaeda, UN probe finds, Boston Globe, 4 August 2004
  17. ^ Transcript of testimony Archived 10 May 2007 at the Wayback Machine in the trial of El Hage and others
  18. ^ "U.S. launches new attacks in Somalia". CTV. 9 January 2007. Archived from the original on 11 January 2007. Retrieved 12 June 2011.
  19. ^ Attacks against al-Qaeda continue in Somalia, NBC News, 9 January 2007
  20. ^ "Somali Government closes in on al-Qa'eda stronghold". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 4 May 2007.
  21. ^ "Somali raids miss terror suspects". BBC. 11 January 2007. Retrieved 11 January 2007.
  22. ^ Penketh, Anne; Bloomfield, Steve (13 January 2007). "US strikes on al-Qa'ida chiefs kill nomads". The Independent. London. Retrieved 12 June 2011.
  23. ^ [1][dead link]
  24. ^ Kenya: We have hacked al-Qaida laptop, UPI, 30 January 2007
  25. ^ Mango, Caroline; Gitau, Paul; Ombati, Cyrus (4 August 2008). "Top al-Qaeda man now back in Kenya" (Reprint from The Standard (Kenya)). African Press International. Retrieved 12 June 2011.
  26. ^ Karim Rajan; Fred Mukinda (3 August 2008). "Two arrested as top terror suspect flees". Daily Nation. Retrieved 12 June 2011.
  27. ^ Bill Roggio (15 July 2010). "Uganda attack carried out by Shabaab cell named after slain al Qaeda leader". The Long War Journal. Retrieved 12 June 2011.
  28. ^ Bill Roggio (1 August 2010). "Al Qaeda leaders play significant role in Shabaab". The Long War Journal. Retrieved 12 June 2011.
  29. ^ "Kenyan-Somali Jihadist Killed With Fazul". Somalia Report. 13 June 2011. Archived from the original on 2 February 2013. Retrieved 13 June 2011.
  30. ^ Muhumed, Malkhadir M. (14 June 2011). "Somali soldier: I killed al-Qaida operative". NBC News. Retrieved 24 September 2012.
  31. ^ Omar, Hamsa (17 August 2011). "Somali Soldier Who Killed al-Qaeda Leader Is Injured in Retaliatory Attack". Bloomberg. Retrieved 18 August 2011.
  32. ^ Harper, Mary (2012). Getting Somalia Wrong: Faith, War and Hope in a Shattered State. London & New York: Zed Books. p. 84.
  33. ^ Jeffrey Gettleman (11 June 2011). "Mastermind of 2 U.S. Embassy Bombings Is Killed in Somalia". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 June 2011.