Former Somali Intelligence Chief, Abdullahi Mohamed Ali ‘Sanbaloolshe’ has for the first time spoken about the extradition of ONLF commander Abdikarin Sheikh Muse Qalbi-dhagah and said the decision to extradite him was made by the government in favor of the national security.
Speaking to VOA Somali service, Sanbololshe pointed out that the decision to hand over the commander to Ethiopian government was reached by the Somali government.
He declined to take sole responsibility for the extradition as the spy chief.
Qalbi-Dhagax was extradited under suspicious circumstances on August 28, 2017.
The government of Ethiopia confirmed the handing over, citing a security partnership treaty between Addis Ababa and Mogadishu.
At the time of the rendition, the ONLF – a separatist ethnic Somali rebel group fighting for the right to self-determination in Ethiopia’s Somali region – accused Somali authorities of illegally detaining and transferring Abdikarim Muse “Qalbi Dhagah” to Ethiopia, which considers him a “terrorist”. The ONLF said that the decision was made at the highest levels of the Somali government, which corroborates with statements made by Sanbalolshe.
“I don’t want to mention names, but the decision to extradite Qalbi-dhagah was made and reached by the government and the Cabinet endorsed the decision,” he said during the interview with VOA Somali.
He said that NISA was not entitled to take an independent decision and was fulfilling a federal order when the ONLF leader was arrested.
A 15 member parliamentary committee formed in mid-September to investigate the matter said that the rendition of Qalbi-Dhagax was illegal.
The report implicated NISA for providing misinformation about Qalbi-Dhagax which gave the government a pretense to arrest and extradite him.
“Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency had provided the government leaders with wrong information and subsequently hid the case of Qalbi Dhagah from the justice department”.
The committee’s report was overwhelmingly supported by Parliament, receiving 152 of a possible 161 votes.
The decision to hand over Qalbi-Dhagax sent shockwaves around the world with Somali’s in near unison in their condemnation.
When asked why the Somalia government is not appointing the next spy chief after his removal, Sanbalolshe said that maybe the government has named an unknown official for the post or still searching for his replacement.
During the interview, Sanbalolshe criticized President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo for not speaking about the conflict in Tukaraq which had erupted during his ‘peace and reconciliation’ tour to Puntland.
He cautioned against restricting Somali politicians and stated that people are free to express their political views, and termed the raids on some of the political opponents residences as a hasty decision.
His comment comes on the heels of his parliamentary electoral defeat in Jowhar.