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Hizbul Islam
Participant in Somali Civil War
File:Flag of the Islamic Courts Union crossed swords.svg
Active January 2009–December 2010[1] September 2012-
Ideology Militant Islam, Sunni Islamism, Somali nationalism
Groups Mainly Habargedir, Ayr and Hawiye[2]

Omar Iman (7 February 7 – 26 May 2009)

Hasan Aweys (26 May 2009 – 20 December 2010)

Kismayo (January 2009-October 2009)

Afgooye (October 2009-December 2010)
Area of
Southern and Central Somalia
Originated as Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia; Jabhatul Islamiya; Mu'askar Ras Kamboni; Muaskar Anole(Jan 2009);
al-Shabaab (Sept 2012)
Became al-Shabaab (Dec 2010)
Opponents AMISOM

Hizbul Islam ("Islamic Party"), also known as Hizbul Islaami, Hisbi Islam, or Hezb-ul Islam is a Somali Islamist insurgent group. It was formed after four Islamist groups merged to fight the new Somali government of President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed. The four groups were: Hassan Aweys' ARS-A, Jabhatul Islamiya ("Islamic Front"), Hassan Abdullah Hersi al-Turki's Mu'askar Ras Kamboni (Ras Kamboni Brigade) and Muaskar Anole, the Harti clan's militia. These groups previously took part in the Islamist Insurgency against Ethiopia and the TFG. In December 2010, Hizbul merged into Al-Shabaab, under the name 'Al-Shabaab', after conflict between the two groups, but re-separated in September 2012.

The group has been compared to the Taliban of Afghanistan and Pakistan.[3]



Hizbul Islam was formed in January 2009 by a merger of four groups, with Ali Yassin Mohamed among its founders.[4]

On 7 February 2009, Hizbul announced that it would continue fighting the new government led by President Sharif Sheik Ahmed and the African Union forces in Mogadishu. Omar Iman, the group's first chairman, said, "the so-called government led by Sharif Sheik Ahmed is not different from the one of Abdullahi Yusuf" and that they would continue the holy war (Jihad).[5]

Three weeks later, it appeared that Hizbul Islam would sign a ceasefire with the Transitional Federal Government.[6] However, by 1 March it was clear that no ceasefire would be given, despite President Sharif Ahmed having agreed to proposals for a truce and having offered to accept the implementation of sharia law.[7]

Sheikh Omar Iman Abubakar, a high-ranking official of the Eritrea-based faction of the Alliance for the Reliberation of Somalia, was initially appointed as the group's chairman.[8] He, however, later resigned for Sheikh Aweys to take his position.[9] On 20 December 2010, Hizbul Islam was described as "disbanded" as Sheikh Aweys surrendered to al-Shabaab and agreed to merge the two groups.[1]

Internal struggle, 2009

The groups first internal power struggle lasted from March to May 2009. Two months after it was formed, an apparent power struggle in Hizbul Islam emerged. At a press conference in Mogadishu, a group claiming to represent Hizbul Islam announced that Sheikh Mohamed Hassan Ahmed, another Islamic cleric, had replaced Omar Iman as chairman of the group. The press conference, on 24 March, was attended by several important members of Hizbul Islam, most notably the notorious ex-warlord Yusuf Mohammed Siad Inda'ade (Indho Ade). Sheik Da'ud Mohamed Abtidon, who claimed to be the new spokesman for the group accused Omar Iman of refusing to accept the Islamic scholars' calls for a ceasefire, in return for AMISOM's withdrawal. Indho Ade was quoted as saying "The group [Hizbul Islam] has agreed to remove Sheikh Omar Iman since he made a mistake and violated the group's laws." Sheikh Mohamed Hassan Ahmed declared a ceasefire and entered negotiations for implementation of sharia law and AMISOM's withdrawal in return for joining the government.[10]

However, Hassan Dahir Aweys, the group's most powerful figure, rejected the claims made by Indo Ade that Sheikh Omar Iman had been removed as chairman. He was quoted as saying "No one can take authority away from Sheikh Omar Iman, because the group [Hizbul Islam] appointed him as chairman." Aweys said that Indo Ade and the others from the press conference should form their own group instead of doing what he described as "trying to destroy Hizbul Islam.[11] Prior to this Sheikh Omar Iman had denied that Indho Ade was the group's defence secretary.[12]

This led to the division of Hizbul Islam, with one group led by Indho Ade and the other led by Hassan Aweys (with Omar Iman as chairman).[13][13]

On 21 April 2009, Anole and the Ras Kamboni brigades fought each other in a village called Abdalla Birole, which lies 40 km west of Kismayo. This happened after Anole fighters invaded a village called Bulo Haji, while Ras Kamboni Brigade fighters arrived in Abdalla Birole and they clashed. The situation in the two villages was said to be tense, 4 people were killed and 7 injured during the fighting.[14]

On 4 May, al-Shabaab and members of the main faction of Hizbul Islam, led by Hassan Aweys and Omar Iman, attacked a base used by Indho Ade's group of Hizbul Islam. Indho Ade's lieutenants claimed that al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam trying to expand territory into areas under the control of Indho Ade's milita.[15]

Eight days later, Indho Ade handed over his arms to Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, ending the group's division.[16] However, soon after, he defected to the government. On 26 May, Omar Iman Abubakr stepped down as chairman and handed over his position to Sheikh Aweys, who was by then clearly the most powerful figure in the group.[9]

Defeat by al-Shabaab 2009-2010

In October 2009 the group underwent division with one faction fighting and losing to al-Shabaab. The group ended up surrendering to and joining al-Shabaab in December 2010.

On 1 October 2009, armed conflict between Hizbul Islam and al-Shabaab began in a dispute between the a faction of the Ras Kamboni Brigades and al-Shabaab over who was in charge of Kisimayo. ARS-A and JABISO, which were aligned with al-Shabaab in Mogadishu and the central Somalian Hiran region, refused to support the Ras Kamboni Brigades, meanwhile Anole remained neutral. It also led to a split within the Ras Kamboni Brigades, with a faction led by Ahmed "Madoobe" starting the war against al-Shabaab and a faction led by Hassan "Turki" siding with al-Shabaab.[17] The battle of Kisimayo was decisively won by al-Shabaab which expelled Madbobe's Ras Kamboni Brigade forces from the city.[18] In the battles that followed, in November 2009, Madobe's forces were overpowered by al-Shabaab and local allies and forced to withdraw from the Lower Jubba region and most of Southern Somalia.[17][18] In February 2010, al-Turki's branch declared a merge with al-Shabaab.[17]

A decisive clash in Hiran, in early 2010, was won by al-Shabaab, which then took control of the area.[19] Late in the year, Hizbul Islam were expelled from Bay region as well, after al-Shabaab seized control of Bur Hakab.[20] Soon after Hizbul Islam was forced to surrender Luq town to al-Shabaab after which it was announced that Hizbul Islam would merge with al-Shabaab. From mid-December al-Shabaab fighters started taking over Hizbul Islam positions.[21] On 20 December, Hizbul Islam officially surrendered to al-Shabaab and a merger, retaining the name 'Al-Shabaab', was confirmed by Hizbul Islam chairman Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys and official spokesman Sheikh Mohammad Osman Arus.[22]

2012 split from al-Shabaab

In late September 2012, after al-Shabab had suffered a number of military setbacks as well as criticism as the presumed hand behind the shooting of parliamentarian Mustafa Haji Maalim, Hizbul Islam announced that it was leaving the al-Shabab organisation. The move was due to long-standing ideological differences, such as the group's opposition to the use of foreign jihadis, according to its spokesman, and was described as "a significant setback for al-Shabab".[23] The spokesman said it still wanted the African Union mission to leave Somalia but welcomed the new president and parliament as a "positive development".[23]


  • Sheikh Mohamed Ibrahim Hayle - Leader of Jabhatul Islamiya (JABISO).[24]
  • Mukhtar Abu Ali Aisha - The Leader of Mu'askar Anole[25]

Other leaders:

  • Mohamed Moalim - Official spokesman.

Former leaders

  • Sheikh Omar Iman Abubakar - Chairman of Hizbul Islam until 26 May 2009 when he stepped down, handing over his position to Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys.[8][9]
  • Sheikh Yusuf Mohammed Siad Inda'ade - A powerful warlord leading figure in the Asmara based branch of the ARS until 17 May 2009, when he defected to the government.
  • Sheikh Hassan Abdullah Hersi al-Turki - Leader of the Ras Kamboni Brigade which defected to Al-Shabaab.[17][26]
  • Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys - Leader of the Asmara based wing of the ARS and chairman of the group. Later became Al-Shabaab's spiritual leader.[9]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 allafrica Aweys Surrenders to Al Shabaab, Six Killed in Bombing
  2. Somalia’s Stability and Security Situation in Review
  3. "Somali radio stations comply with Islamists' music ban". BBC News. 13 April 2010. Retrieved 19 August 2010. 
  4. Levy, Oscar (11 May 2009). "Terrorledaren befinner sig i Sverige" (in Swedish). Nyheter24. Retrieved 2 June 2008. 
  5. "Somalia: Islamists Want to Keep Fighting Against the New Government". 7 February 2009. Retrieved 19 August 2010. 
  6. "Somalia in truce with rebel group". Al Jazeera. 28 February 2009. Retrieved 20 March 2009. 
  7. "Somali rebels reject ceasefire". Al Jazeera. 1 March 2009. Retrieved 20 March 2009. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Somalia: Islamic Party Insurgents Declare War On New Govt". 7 February 2009. Retrieved 19 August 2010. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 "Somalia: 7 Killed in Violence, Aweys Crowned Hizbul Islam Chief". 26 May 2009. Retrieved 19 August 2010. 
  10. "Somalia: Islamists Dismiss Their Leader". 23 March 2009. Retrieved 19 August 2010. 
  11. "Somalia: Discord Among Hizbul Islam Faction". 24 March 2009. Retrieved 19 August 2010. 
  12. "Somalia: Party of Islam Chairman Condemns Recent Attacks". 28 February 2009. Retrieved 19 August 2010. 
  13. 13.0 13.1 "Somalia: 'Talks Open' Between Govt, Hizbul Islam Faction". 8 April 2009. Retrieved 19 August 2010. 
  14. "Somalia: Fighting Between Islamist Factions Kill Four People". 21 April 2009. Retrieved 19 August 2010. 
  15. "Somalia: Former Allies Involved in Mogadishu Skirmish". 4 May 2009. Retrieved 19 August 2010. 
  16. "Somalia: Islamist Leader Says He Handed Over His Weapons". 12 May 2009. Retrieved 19 August 2010. 
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 Page 16 & 17
  18. 18.0 18.1 "Somalia: Al-Shabaab's Encirclement Strategy". 8 December 2009. Retrieved 19 August 2010. 
  19. By Sh. M. N, 12 December 2010 (12 December 2010). "Somalia: Clam Returns to Bur-Hakaba After One Day of Deadly Fighting". allAfrica. Retrieved 24 September 2012. 
  20. "Somalia: Al Shabaab Leaders Condemn Each Other Publicly". 18 December 2010. Retrieved 24 September 2012. 
  21. Khalif, Abdikadir (20 December 2010). "Somalia: Rival Militant Groups Set to Join Forces". Retrieved 24 September 2012. 
  22. "Somalia's Shabaab threatens Uganda, Burundi attacks". Reuters. 23 December 2010. 
  23. 23.0 23.1 Kenyan Amisom soldier kills six Somali civilians, BBC News, 24 September 2012
  24. "Somalia: Fighting Erupts in Mogadishu, 2 Killed". 19 January 2009. Retrieved 19 August 2010. 
  25. "Who's Who in Somali Insurgency (Jamestown) Page 22". Retrieved 19 August 2010. [dead link]
  26. "Somalia: Islamist Rebel Leaders Hail Pirate Attacks". 12 April 2009. Retrieved 19 August 2010. 

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