Profile: Ali Mohamed Rage (Ali Dhere)
This piece is part of a series of al Shabaab leadership profiles.
Ali Mohamed Rage, also known as Ali Dhere, is al Shabaab’s head spokesman and a member of the group’s Shura Council. He also served as the group’s chairman of Banadir region until February 16, 2011, when Mohamed Hassan Omar Abdurahman replaced him. Neither the United States nor the United Nations has designated him as a terrorist.
Rage is a member of the Murursade, a sub-clan of the Hawiye clan with a strong presence in the Banadir region. He replaced Sheikh Mukhtar Robow, also known as Abu Mansur, as al Shabaab’s top spokesman in May 2009 following a dispute between Rage, Robow, and Ahmed Abdi Godane, also known as Mukhtar Abu Zubair.
March 21, 2012: Rage warned civilians in Mogadishu to stay away from Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) buildings and bases to “avoid a significant loss of lives as a result of bloody attacks.” (Shabelle Media Network)
March 15, 2012: Rage revealed the identity of the perpetrator of the March 14 suicide bombing on Villa Somalia, the presidential palace in Mogadishu, which killed at least three people, including the bomber. He warned that there would be more attacks against TFG and AMISOM targets. (Shabelle Media Network)
March 12, 2012: Rage announced that al Shabaab would carry out attacks against the Ethiopian military and TFG forces. He called on Somalis to help al Shabaab in its “holy war.” (Shabelle Media Network)
February 23, 2012: Rage declared that those taken part in the London Conference on Somalia “should not waste your time, you will lose.” (BBC)
February 14, 2012: Rage condemned the upcoming London Conference on Somalia, which took place on February 23, as “another attempt by the UK to colonise [sic] Somalia.” (AFP)
February 12, 2012: Rage stated that the Somali people were happy with al Shabaab’s merger with al Qaeda. He continued, “We will work with our brothers of AQAP [al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula] in Yemen, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the world and we are part of them…We are the branch of AQAP in Somalia.” (Raxanreeb)
December 16, 2011: Rage warned Djiboutian soldiers deploying to Somalia as part of AMISOM: “Djibouti government must dismantle its decision to send troops to Somalia, or otherwise we will be targeting them in our soil . . . we punished the African Union forces who were here before you . . . but you should consider your own choice rather than to be rush to Somalia, here is a burnt place for African invaders.” (SONNA)
December 6, 2011: Rage attended a meeting, along with deputy leader Sheikh Mukhtar Robow (Abu Mansur), Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, senior member Fuad Mohamed Qalaf (Shongole), and clerics in Baidoa in Bay region. After the meeting, a statement announced that the al Shabaab would be changing its name to Imaarah Islamiyah (Islamic Authority). Al Shabaab retracted the name change a short time later (SONNA, Somalia Report, Hiiraan)
November 16, 2011: Rage warned Kenya that it would face “hellfire” unless it withdraws its troops from southern Somalia. "We are telling Kenya that they still have the opportunity to back away from the hellfire it was dragged into and leave our soil, otherwise they will continue suffering," he said. (News24)
October 29, 2011: Rage warned civilians to avoid government buildings and AMISOM military bases, as al Shabaab would continue to attack those targets. He said al Shabaab was responsible for two suicide attacks near Mogadishu’s Warshadaha Street. (Shabelle Media Network)
October 17, 2011: At a press conference in the Elasha Biyaha neighborhood outside Mogadishu, Rage threatened attacks against Kenya if it didn’t withdraw its invading forces from Somalia. “The Kenyan public must understand that the impetuous decision by their troops to cross the border into Somalia will not be without severe repercussions. The bloody battles that will ensue as a result of this incursion will most likely disrupt the social equilibrium and imperil the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians; and with war consequently comes a significant loss of lives, instability, and destruction to the local economy and a critical lack of security,” he said. He accused Kenyan troops of attacking civilian areas, and refuted accusations that al Shabaab had kidnapped foreign aid workers in Kenya. (Shabelle Media Network)
October 5, 2011: Following a suicide truck bombing in Mogadishu that killed 72 people, Rage claimed responsibility for the attack. He called it a warning for those who believed al Shabaab had fully withdrawn from the city. “We wish to inform the Muslim people that the campaign against infidels will be back-to-back and by God's grace will increase day by day and will increase in the coming hours. I will give a good tiding to the infidels: You will face big and broad blows,” he said. (AP)
August 31, 2011: Rage led prayers and delivered a speech at an Eid al Fitr service in Maslah Square, north of Mogadishu. (SITE)
August 16, 2011: In a communiqué posted on jihadist forums, Rage cited an al Shabaab attack on government troops in Mogadishu as evidence that the group had not completely withdrawn from the capital. Referring to photos posted alongside the statement, he said, “If the mujahedeen withdrew from Mogadishu, then who destroyed the armored vehicle, who burned the tank, and who arrested this captive?” (SITE)
August 12, 2011: Rage challenged reports that al Shabaab had pulled all its forces from Mogadishu and argued the group’s militants were still fighting in the city. He also refuted a claim by Hassan Dahir Aweys that al Shabaab had withdrawn from Mogadishu due to infighting within the group. (Shabelle Media Network, Shabelle Media Network)
August 6, 2011: Rage confirmed reports that al Shabaab fighters had abandoned their positions in Mogadishu, but he downplayed the development as a tactical shift towards guerilla warfare. (Shabelle Media Network)
July 21, 2011: Rage accused the United Nations of politicizing Somalia’s drought, refuting the organization’s declaration of famine in the country’s southern regions. He termed reports of famine “baseless propaganda,” and argued “conditions are not as bad as they say.” (Reuters)
July 6, 2011: Rage announced that al Shabaab formed a committee to deal with Somalia’s ongoing drought and lifted its ban on foreign aid agencies. "Whether they are Muslims or non-Muslims, [if] their intention is only to assist those suffering, they can contact the committee which will give them access to the drought-hit areas," he said. (BBC)
June 17, 2011: Rage pledged al Shabaab’s allegiance to the new leader of al Qaeda, Ayman al Zawahiri. "We are welcoming the naming of Dr. Al-Zawahiri. We are going to work with him like we used to work with Sheikh Osama. We will be fulfilling the promise and the agreements with the former leader which means supporting the new leader,” he said. (Hiraan Online)
March 7, 2011: Rage threatened attacks on Kenya for preventing al Shabaab fighters from fleeing across the border following a defeat against government troops in Beled Hawo. "Previous warnings to Kenya are nothing compared to this one. We are going to retaliate against it harshly," he said. He also called Somalis to action against Ethiopia, which he accused of supporting TFG troops in the battle. “They (Ethiopia military) will no longer stay at Somalia and will not raise their flag inside our soil,” he said. (Daily Nation, Shabelle Media Network)
February 27, 2011: Rage told reporters in Mogadishu that al Shabaab will retaliate against Kenya for its support of an allied offensive against the militant group. “Kenya has constantly disturbed us, and now it should face the consequences of allowing Ethiopian troops to attack us from Mandera town,” he said. (Shabelle Media Network)
February 21, 2011: Rage claimed responsibility for a car bombing at a police training station in Mogadishu that killed at least eight people and wounded 35 others. He argued the attack was aimed at soldiers “who were being prepared to attack us.” (AP)
Jared Sorhaindo contributed to the research behind this profile.