Profile: Ibrahim Haji Jama Mead (Ibrahim al Afghani)
This piece is part of a series of al Shabaab leadership profiles.
Ibrahim Haji Jama Mead, also known as Ibrahim al Afghani, is senior leader in al Shabaab and a member of the group’s Shura Council. Afghani was one of the original founders of al Shabaab. Several sources since December 2010 have reported he replaced Ahmed Abdi Godane, also known as Mukhtar Abu Zubair, as al Shabaab’s emir. Al Shabaab has not announced any leadership change, and subsequent statements by the group identified Godane as the emir. As of May 2010, Afghani headed al Shabaab’s Jubba Valley administration from Kismayo. The State Department authorized a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to his location on June 7, 2012. Neither the United States nor the United Nations has designated Afghani as a terrorist.
Afghani is from Somaliland and is a member of the Habar Awal, a sub-clan of the Isaaq clan, which has a strong presence in Somaliland. Godane is also a member of the Isaaq clan. Afghani earned his moniker from his experience fighting with al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Kashmir. This has also strengthened Afghani’s reputation as being a member of al Shabaab’s hard-line faction that focuses on global jihad. He successfully led al Shabaab’s forces against Hizb al Islam when the two groups fought for control of the strategic port city of Kismayo in October 2009.
There is little information available on Afghani, and many reports remain unverified. A Somali media outlet, Raxanreeb, cited unconfirmed reports that Afghani was killed in a U.S. airstrike targeting al Shabaab leadership in Qandal village, near Kismayo, on June 23, 2011.  However, on August 11, Strategic Forecasting claimed that Afghani was not only alive, but had also replaced Godane as the emir of al Shabaab, citing unidentified sources. Al Shabaab has not issued a statement in response to either report, and Afghani has not appeared publicly.
Jared Sorhaindo contributed to the research behind this profile.