Africa Center Director J. Peter Pham joins NPR’s All Things Considered to discuss the counterterrorism operation launched in Somalia which targeted the leader of the militant group al-Shabaab:
WARNER: Ahmed Abdi Godane, the reclusive and bookish leader of the Somali group al-Shabab, falls squarely in the global camp. He declared links to al-Qaida and chose targets beyond Somali borders – World Cup soccer fans in a stadium in Uganda, Saturday afternoon shoppers in a Nairobi mall. As for his fellow Somalis, who were not won over by his grand plans or his athletic recall of Somali and Islamic poetry, those who, in other words, wanted to keep al-Shabab as it began – as a local group, trying to impose their version of Sharia law in Somalia. Godane dealt with them as brutally as he treated, what he called, the infidels.
PETER PHAM: He’s dealt with them by literally eliminating them, killing them off for opposing him.
WARNER: Peter Pham directs the Africa Center at the Atlantic Council. And he describes Godane’s leadership style as authoritarian. He killed off rivals and sidelined traditional collective Somali decision-making structures= in favor of a top-down command approach.
PHAM: Ironically because of the ruthless matter with which he led al-Shabab, he left the organization exceptionally vulnerable to his demise.