Since 2014, Al-shabaab has launched more than ten attacks on Mogadishu hotels.
Its operatives collect intelligence on the targets before catching security forces off guard.
What makes the Hotel Afrik attack different from other attacks, however, is how Al-shabaab justified the loss of life to target General Mohammed Nur Galal.
Al-shabaab issued a statement on the massacre at the hotel in which a newly married couple were among the victims.
General Galal knew he was on Al-shabaab’s hit-list since he had joined forces with the former Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama’ paramilitaries in Dhuusamareeb back in 2011.
Asked why he backs a paramilitary group supported by Ethiopia, General Galal said that the common goal shared with Ethiopia to defeat Al-shabaab mattered more than his opposition to Ethiopia’s intervention in Somalia in 2006, to protect the former Transitional Federal Government of Somalia.
“During the World War II the USA and the former USSR fought Germany,” he said.
In 2012 Al-shabaab killed in Dhuusamareeb several political leaders to avenge the death of Adan Hashi Aeoro, the former Al-shabaab leader whom the US eliminated in a missile attack in Dhuusamareeb in 2008.
Somali Memo reported that the attack on the visiting MPs had been launched on May 1, the day Americans assassinated Adan Hashi Aero.
At Hotel Afrik Yusuf Indha’ade, a former warlord, was rescued by Somali special forces. In 2016 Al-shabaab assassinated his colleague Mohamed Jimale Gobale in Mogadishu.
Al-shabaab exploits major weaknesses in the security forces. There are too many senior officials who have been promoted to the rank of Brigadier General. Indha’ade is one of them.
Some senior officials were former warlords remembered for a reign of oppression in Lower Jubba, Lower Shabelle, Bay and Bakool.
Al-shabaab secures vital intelligence on its targets before sending in its assassins.
Information on the venue, date and time of meetings is what the Al-shabaab spy network seeks most.
Amniyat (intelligence) operatives gather information from unsuspecting members of the community, plan escape routes, and delayed rescue missions by almost one hour before the special forces could arrive at the scene.
Somali authorities lack the ability to learn from past attacks by Al-shabaab, a militant organisation that has perfected the art of exploiting its enemies’ weaknesses.
Every Al-shabaab attack sends a message about the length of time the group is prepared to wait to get revenge, and its ruthlessness when it comes to settling scores with adversaries.