The Raskamboni Movement, a splinter group of the Ras Kamboni Brigades is an Islamic paramilitary group turned government affiliated militia from Jubaland, southern Somalia. The group was heavily involved in criminal activities before transitioning into an “anti-radical” Islamic movement and key component in the fight against al-Shabaab in the Lower Shabelle region.
Ahmed Mohamed Islam “Madobe” & the Ras Kamboni Brigades
The Raskamboni Movement is led by Ahmed Mohamed Islam “Madobe”, a former warlord and senior commander within the Ras Kamboni Brigades, an Islamic Paramilitary Group aligned with Hizbul Islam and other Islamic Insurgency Groups in southern Somalia.
Ahmed Mohamed Islam “Madobe” was a close friend and associate of Ras Kamboni Brigades leader, Hassan Abdullah Hersi “al-Turki”, and was responsible for launching numerous deadly attacks on Somalia’s TFG and Ethiopian security forces during the height of the country’s civil war.
The RKB and the many “Islamist umbrella groups” waging war on Somali and Ethiopian forces where affiliated with the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), where they participated in relentless attacks on Mogadishu.
“Madobe” & Hizbul Islam
“al-Turki” and the Ras Kamboni Brigades united with Hassan Dahir “Aweys” and the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia and Mohamed Ibrahim Hayle’s Somali Islamic Front to form Hizbul Islam, a Kismaayo based extremist group and “anti-TFG” movement.
“Madobe’s” element of the Ras Kamboni Brigades flourished within Hizbul Islam and became a dominant group within the Islamic Insurgent Group.
Conflict with al-Shabaab & the End of Hizbul Islam
As al-Shabaab’s campaign grew stronger within southern Somalia, the militant group set their sights on the Hizbul Islam stronghold of Kismaayo.
With close ties to Shabaab, the ARS and Somali Islamic Front factions refused to fight, leaving the Ras Kamboni Brigades and a few Hizbul Islam fighters to defend Kismaayo. Both groups were locked in battle for control over the strategical and lucrative port city when eventually Hizbul Islam surrendered to al-Shabaab.
After surrendering “al-Turki’s” faction, the Ras Kamboni Brigades quickly aligned themselves with al-Shabaab, pledging their allegiance to al-Qaeda.
The Creation of the Raskamboni Movement
Refusing to side with al-Shabaab, and feeling betrayed, “Madobe’s” faction of the Hizbul Islam aligned Ras Kamboni Brigades established a new group and began fighting for territory and control of key areas within Lower and Middle Shabelle.
“Madobe’s” first agenda was to recapture Kismaayo and after many unsuccessful attempt the Raskamboni Movement aligned with the Somali government and AMISOM to oust Shabaab from the region.
Kiwayu Resort Attack
Raskamboni were responsible for the Kiwayu Island attack in Kenya, where gunmen shot and killed a British holidaymaker and taking another hostage.
David and Judith Tebbutt, where enjoying their stay at the Kenyan resort when heavily armed men stormed the pool area killing David and taking Judith hostage.
Raskamboni officials demanded a random which was eventually paid and Judith was released after spending six months in Kudhaa, southern Somalia.
After declaring al-Shabaab, a critical threat in 2010, the Raskamboni Movement announced their intention to fight the jihadist group, expelling them from southern Somalia.
The Raskamboni Movement participated in the second Battle of Kismaayo, fighting alongside AMISOM forces and the Somali National Army to drive al-Shabaab from the city. Since then, the group has resumed close ties with AMISOM and the AU where they have conducted many joint operations with the Lower Shabelle region.
De Facto Control
When al-Shabaab withdrew from Kismaayo in September 2012, the Raskamboni Movement assumed de-facto control over the city, where Under “Madobe’s” command, the group imposed their control over large areas of Lower Shabelle.
The RKM operations are centralised around Kismaayo where the paramilitary group have banned Somali forces and government officials from entering the city.
“Madobe’s” men are responsible for an increase of violence throughout the region, as the Islamic paramilitary group rule through violence and intimidation, punishing those who disagree or break the strict rules put in place.
RKM have carried out many atrocities such as mass murder, rape, robberies and are viewed by many as being no better than al-Shabaab. The Raskamboni Movement are responsible for abducting and killing hundreds of “alleged” al-Shabaab members, most of which belong to the Marehan clan, a rival group from the region.
During this period, the following key areas were under RKM control:
Raskamboni fighters conducted multiple operations throughout the Lower and Middle Shabelle regions, attacking rival clans and groups who failed to obey “Madobe’s” laws.
“Madobe’s” house in Kismaayo was attacked twice and in once incident grenades were launched, killing his bodyguards. The Raskamboni administration building was also targeted by unknown assailants who carried out a VBIED attack during a RKM meeting. The attacks are believed to be retaliation for the murder of a prominent village elder, and have sparked a mass-offensive within Kismaayo.
Raskamboni militants enforced a curfew, restricting the movements of locals within the city. The group also controls the food and aid supplies within the port and distribution centres throughout the city, limiting supplies to civilians who are forced to pay heavy taxes and fees for food.
Marehan Clan Conflict
Among the many militias who fought the Raskamboni Movement were armed groups from the Marehan clan, a sub-clan of the Darood. A key turning point was the death of a prominent Marehan clan member who was killed whilst in the custody of RKM members. Marehan militias raided the Raskamboni controlled police station, killing four and injuring three others. Eleven died in total during the incident.
In May 2013, “Madobe” was elected as president of Jubaland where his Juba Interim Administration would govern the region for two years.
Since “Madobe” and his Movement took over Kismaayo, residents live in fear, having to face rape, abuse and the risk of being abducted, illegally detained or killed by the hands the undisciplined Raskamboni militia and corrupt Kenyan “Peacekeeping Troops”.
In the 2015 re-election, “Madobe” declared himself as the president and leader of Jubaland State. On hearing the news of “Madobe’s” victory, opposition clans and groups took to the street and violence broke out.
“Madobe’s” administration aligned with corrupt Kenyan peacekeepers eliminated political rivals while continuing to oppress the people of Kismaayo.
People opposing “Madobe’s” regime are identified through their clan or sub-clan. Once identified, Raskamboni security forces will take the necessary action to eliminate any political or clan rivalry these targets may pose.
Victims, who are often all male, are tortured, beaten, raped and murdered by Raskamboni forces. There homes are looted and taken over by “Madobe’s” fighters.
Coincidentally, the victims come from the same clan networks, all belonging to the Mehran clan.
Since the Raskamboni Movement assumed control over Kismaayo, security throughout the city has drastically deteriorated. An increase of violent crimes and sexual abuse within “Madobe” control regions have resulted in wide-spread violence and heavy clashes between RKM and Kenyan forces and the southern clans.
Despite the UN ban on Kismaayo’s charcoal trade, the KDF continue to assist Raskamboni fighters with exporting charcoal to destinations within Africa and the Middle East.
The Kenyan controlled port of Kismaayo, has been the focus point of their illegal activities. The KDF receive a third of the profits which enables them to fund Kenyan aligned warlords and militias, including “Madobe’s” Raskamboni Movement.
Kenya’s corruption is felt throughout southern Somalia as they continue to support “Madobe’s” Interim Juba Administration with becoming an independent state.
The Kenyan War Machine
The secret pact between the Kenyans and the Raskamboni Movement has hindered the peace process, damaging any hopes of restoring stability in southern Somalia.
The Kenyan backed paramilitary group took control of Kismaayo where they disarmed government forces, banning them from the city. Rival clan members were forced to leave with “Madobe’s” men executing clan elders who refused to cooperate.
Kenyan “peacekeepers” moved into military camps throughout the city while Raskamboni fighters took control over police stations and government buildings. A strict no entry policy was implement and enforced by Kenyan forces who restricted the movements of the Somali Federal Government, eventually banning them from the city.
SNA clashed with “Madobe’s” fighters who with the support of their Kenyan allies repealed the government troops from advancing, forcing them to retreat.
The Kenyans continue to violate AMISOM directives by supporting Raskamboni’s vicious campaign. Furthermore, Kenyan forces have participated in clan conflicts, attacking rival militias and armed groups in support of “Madobe’s” political interests.
“Madobe’s” Ogaden Militias
The continued oppression and ethnic cleansing of clans within Lower Juba has resulted in heavy clashes as the Mehran and Hawiye clan’s unit to defend themselves against Raskamboni fighters and Kenyan security forces.
Fearing that he might lose control of Kismaayo, “Madobe” rallied support from the Ogaden.
The Raskamboni ranks swell with Ogaden clan members, a key factor in the alliance between “Madobe’s” fighters and the Ogaden militias who supported Raskamboni’s defence of Kismaayo.
Many of the militias which oppose “Madobe’s” regime hail from the Mehran clan which have withdrawn their trust for Kenyan security forces within the southern Somalia. Working under strict but clear guidelines, the KDF are supposed to be an impartial “peacekeeping” force within Lower Juba, however Kenyan troops cooperating with Raskamboni forces are fighting along-side Ogaden militias, raping, torturing and killing innocent civilians as the alliance continue to force the Marehan (Darood), Gaaljecel (Hawiye), Sheekhaal (Hawiye) and Cawro-Maleh communities from the city.
Ogaden clansmen and militias, loyal to the Raskamboni and Jubaland Interim Administration leader, Sheikh Ahmed “Madobe” illegally occupy Kismaayo and key regions, once inhabited by indigenous communities, native to the Lower Juba region.
Kenyan forces aligned with the Raskamboni Movement are responsible for killing hundreds of civilians in cooperation Ogaden militia operations.
The victims, a combination of Mehran and Hawiye clans were gunned down by KDF heavy weapon systems and vehicle mounted machineguns during a peaceful protest in Kismaayo.
In another related incident, KDF’s artillery attack on a village outside of Kismaayo left hundreds of unarmed civilians dead. This just weeks after KDF gunships opened fire on the village, killing seventy-five people. All of which belonged to the Mehran.
Raskamboni fighters denied injured people access to hospitals and medical treatment, resulting in further loss of life. In other areas, clan members are killed and executed over taxes owed to the Kenyan soldier operating in the region.
Continued Clan Conflict
Kismaayo continues to be a battleground for contentious clan militias and paramilitary groups as the Raskamboni Movement and the Interim Jubaland Administration clash with Mehran and Hawiye groups.
“Madobe’s” fighters continue to victimise non-Ogaden clan members, targeting key elders in brutal attacks which have taken the lives of numerous prominent Mehran clan members.
As “Madobe’s” forces grow stronger, his ranks become filled with former ONLF members and militants from Ethiopia who have been responsible for the increase of violence and killing throughout Juba. The Raskamboni have Ethiopian Special Forces units which specialise in assassinations and guerrilla warfare.
Kenyan Backed War with the Mehran (January 2016)
In retaliated for the al-Shabaab attack in El Adde, Kenyan forces invaded Gedo, a Mehran stronghold after “Madobe” instructed KDF officials that clan members from the area support al-Shabaab.
Kenyan forces aligned with Ogaden militias and the Raskamboni Movement continue their campaign against the Mehran in Gedo, Middle Juba by launching a coordinated attack, consisting of airstrikes and a ground assault.
KDF tanks and troops accompanied by Raskamboni and Ogaden fighters entered Gedo, defying AMISOM orders as the war against the Marehan reaches new levels. Following the heavy shelling of Bardere, ground troops and armoured vehicles moved into position to secure the area. Many people were killed during the airstrike and many more in the ground manoeuvres which followed. The target, a suspected al-Shabaab camp on the outskirts of the city was a vacant lot which had been abandoned.
The temporary invasion of Gedo did nothing to help the situation between the warring parties.
UN Warning (February 16, 2017)
As the violence continues, the United Nations Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights, Andrew Gilmour, urged AMISOM and the Federal Government of Somalia to govern the developments within Kismaayo, stating that it is their duty to uphold observations of human rights by its forces.
The UN have previously brokered peace talks between “Madobe’s” IJA and elders from the Mehran and Hawiye clans, including other prominent warlords, militia leaders and government figures such as Barre Hiiraale, Mohamed Abdi Kaliil and Abdullahi Godah Barre. Also in attendance were KDF commander from the region. Not much was changed after previous meetings, however, after the UN called for those committing atrocities to be held accountable, perhaps there is still hope for peace.
CEO & Director of Special Projects at Specialist Security Services Ltd (SSS Ltd).