Op-Ed: Somaliland’s Counterterrorism Efforts: Addressing the Threat Posed by the Las Anod Militia in the Horn of Africa and Its Impact on U.S. Interests

In this photo taken on May 18, 2016, a soldier of the army of Somalia's breakaway territory of Somaliland stands guard during an Independence day celebration parade in Hargeisa. AFP
In this photo taken on May 18, 2016, a soldier of the army of Somalia's breakaway territory of Somaliland stands guard during an Independence day celebration parade in Hargeisa. AFP

By: Abdisalam Rageh

The picturesque town of Las Anod, once a symbol of peace and tranquility, has been transformed into a hotbed of terror and violence by sinister forces seeking to destabilize Somaliland. These rogue elements, driven by a poisonous mix of tribal hatred, religious extremism, and lust for power, have unleashed a wave of barbarity upon the Sool region and parts of Togdheer.

Their atrocities, devoid of any semblance of humanity, stand as a stark reminder of the dark depths to which these individuals have sunk. The inhumane dismemberment of innocent civilians, the relentless burning of houses, and the unconscionable taking of nomadic people hostage are just a few examples of their heinous acts.

These barbaric actions, fueled by tribal hatred and the extremist ideology of Al-Ittihad, have shattered the lives of countless individuals and communities, leaving a trail of destruction and despair in their wake. The incitement of genocidal statements by the traditional elders based in Las Anod further underscores the sinister motives behind these acts of violence.

The attack on Buqdharkeyn, just days ago, stands as a testament to the brutality and ruthlessness of these forces. United on motives of destabilization and destruction, they unleashed a reign of terror upon the unsuspecting residents of this peaceful town, maiming communities, poisoning wells, slaughtering community leaders, and burning entire houses to the ground.

The emerging involvement of China in this ongoing conflict is deeply troubling. As a reaction to Somaliland’s growing ties with Taiwan, the Chinese Ambassador in Mogadishu has been accused of aiding the sinister forces in Las Anod with amenities and dozens of trucks loaded with suspected weaponry assistance. This blatant interference in Somaliland’s internal affairs further highlights the insidious nature of this conflict and serves as a stark reminder that China is exploiting the situation for its own geopolitical interests.

The speech given by the highest traditional chief in Las Anod, Garad Ali Garad Jama, calling for the slaughtering of entire Isaaq communities in the East, and moving all the way to Hargeisa to bring the Somaliland government to its knees, is a chilling reminder of the genocidal intentions of these forces.

Unmasking the Anti-Isaaq Agenda Behind the Las Anod Conflict

The initial narrative of anti-Somaliland, once cloaked in the guise of Dhulbahante’s, partial inhabitants of Sool region and Buuhoodle, desired regional autonomy, has unraveled to reveal its true essence – an anti-Isaaq agenda. This malicious intent, fueled by a thirst for bloodshed and power, has transformed the SSC-KHAATUMO Entity into an emblem of barbarism and intolerance.

Their actions speak volumes. The relentless demonization of the Isaaq community, the brutal targeting of Isaaq civilians, and the systematic destruction of Isaaq’s property are all hallmarks of looming genocidal machinery. These acts of violence and hatred serve as a stark reminder of the dark chapters in history, where entire communities were persecuted and brutalized based on their Isaaq ethnicity in the late Barre regime.

The SSC-KHAATUMO Entity’s hatred toward the Isaaq population is not merely a misguided political ideology; it is a manifestation of deep-seated tribal prejudice and a desire to inflict pain and suffering among innocent people, on the basis of historical grudges. The SSC-KHAATUMO Entity is determined to sow discord and division and is willing to use violence and terror to achieve its goals.

Somaliland’s Under Threat of Terrorism

Somaliland, a beacon of stability and progress in the Horn of Africa, has been a staunch ally in the global fight against terrorism. Their unwavering commitment to combating Alshabaab and other terrorist groups has earned them the respect and admiration of the international community.

However, Somaliland’s noble efforts are now under threat from the sinister forces based in Las Anod. These individuals, led by the notorious terrorist Abdi Madobe, are working to establish safe havens for Alshabaab terrorists in the Golis Mountains, a natural and strategic outpost.

Their actions are not only a betrayal of Somaliland’s long-standing commitment to combating terrorism but also a grave threat to regional stability. The Golis Mountains, if allowed to fall into the hands of Alshabaab, would provide a dangerous springboard for terrorist attacks, jeopardizing the security of the entire Horn of Africa, particularly that of the strategic Gulf of Aden.

A wave of violence and terror have been subjected to nomadic communities in Buqdharkeyn by the Terrorist militia of SSC-KHAATUMO; the acts were shot shamelessly by the terrorists themselves.

Las Anod Militia: A Stark Threat to the Regional Interests of the United States

The United States has a strong interest in preventing the Las Anod militia from achieving its goals. Somaliland is a key ally in the fight against terrorism, and its fall to the Las Anod militia would be a major setback for the United States and its partners. The United States must take decisive action to support Somaliland in its struggle against the Las Anod militia.

The United States can do this by providing Somaliland with military and financial assistance, as well as by using its diplomatic influence to isolate the Las Anod militia. The United States can also work with its partners in the region to develop a regional strategy to counter the threat posed by the Las Anod militia.

Nomadic pastoralist taken hostage by the militia

In addition to the aforementioned reasons, the United States has a compelling interest in bolstering its cooperation with Somaliland in light of the increasing Chinese presence in Africa. China has been aggressively expanding its economic and military influence in the region, and this expansion has raised concerns among some US officials. Somaliland is a strategic ally of the United States, and its close ties to the West serve as a counterbalance to China’s growing influence in the region.

Furthermore, Somaliland’s strategic location in the Horn of Africa makes it a valuable partner for the United States. Somaliland sits on the southern coast of the Gulf of Aden, a critical shipping lane that is vitally important to the US economy. Somaliland’s ports could be used to support US military operations in the region, and its territory could serve as a staging ground for counterterrorism efforts.

Camel herder taken hostage by the terrorist militia along with his entire camel heads

Finally, Somaliland is a pro-Western democracy, and its success story stands in stark contrast to the authoritarian regimes that dominate much of the Horn of Africa. By supporting Somaliland, the United States can send a message to the region that democracy and good governance are the best paths to development and prosperity.


The barbaric violence and destabilization agenda of the Las Anod-based terrorist forces pose a serious threat to Somaliland and the Horn of Africa. The international community must unite to condemn these atrocities and hold the perpetrators accountable for their crimes. Somaliland deserves peace and stability, and it is incumbent upon the International Community to stand in solidarity with its people in their struggle against the forces of chaos and terror.

Women cooks along with the SSC militia chanted for the burning of houses in Buqdharkeyn by the terrorist militia

The United States must also act now to prevent the Las Anod militia from achieving its terrorist-driven goals. The fall of Somaliland to the Las Anod militia would be a major setback for the United States and its partners, and it would pose a serious threat to the security of the Horn of Africa. By providing Somaliland with the support it needs, the United States can help to ensure that this strategically important region remains a bastion of stability and democracy and that forces of extremism and wild barbarism are defeated.

The sooner the international community, including the United States, recognize the gravity of this situation the better.

About Author

Abdisalam Rageh is a legal professional & educated political analyst, with interests ranging from youth in politics, strengthening security, rule of law, & practice of democracy in the Horn of Africa.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the Horndiplomat editorial policy.
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