Somali plane bomber used 'fake' letter from Somali Embassy in Ankara, Turkey. (AP).
Abdullahi Abdisalam Borleh said he was going abroad for health reasons, according to Sheikh Mohamed Abdullahi, a mosque imam in Hargeisa near where Borleh was from, and who met with him in January. Abdullahi estimated Borleh's age at between 50 and 52, described him as "chatty," and said that he had a leg problem that required him to sometimes walk with a cane.
A Somali federal official recommended that the government issue Borleh a passport, said a senior intelligence official in Somaliland, the autonomous region where Borleh was from. Borleh had been on security agents' radar, "but we had never considered him to be dangerous," the official told The Associated Press by phone from Hargeisa, Somaliland's capital. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media.
Officials are also looking at a lead that runs straight to Somalia's foreign ministry.
A senior Somali immigration official said Borleh had obtained a Turkish visa to work in Turkey as a foreign ministry adviser, and provided the AP with a copy of a letter allegedly sent from the Somali Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, to the Turkish Embassy in Somalia's capital. The letter asked the Turkish Embassy to facilitate a visa for Borleh to be "an adviser to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Investment Promotions."
But the Somali Embassy in Ankara denied making such a request to the Turkish Embassy in Mogadishu and called the document a fake. The Somali Foreign Ministry and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Investment Promotion Abdusalam H. Omer did not comment, despite repeated requests from AP over five days.
It is possible that al-Shabab, in a display of sophisticated deception, wrote the letter on official or official-looking stationery and sent it to the Turkish Embassy. The embassy declined to comment to AP on whether it had received the letter or acted on it.
Having the visa would have been key to getting aboard a flight, which originally was on Turkish Airlines. In its statement claiming responsibility, al-Shabab lashed out at Turkey, which has been a strong supporter of the Somali government.
The flight on Feb. 2 was supposed to have been on Turkish Airlines, but the airline canceled because of bad weather from a previous departure point, and Dubai-based Daallo Airlines was instead used. Flight 159 consequently took off an hour late, a delay which may have saved the passengers and crew.
Borleh taught the Quran and Islamic ethics to local children but acquaintances said he didn't discuss politics. He favored a long mustache and usually wore trousers cut to just below the knee. He was married and had children, though how many isn't clear.
"He was a normal and humorous man, and he rarely talked about persecutions against Muslims in East Africa," said a local journalist who met Borleh before he travelled to Mogadishu. Hmmm......In the past the Turkish IHH had no problem dealing with Al Shabab, i would look in that direction. Read the full story here.
The head of the Turkish Humanitarian Aid Foundation (IHH), Sardash Jam, his deputy, Mr. Murad, and the head of the Turkish Airways, Dr. Jampl Kutiki, along with 210 other Turkish delegates arrived at Mogadishu’s Aden Adde International Airport.“We have decided to help our brothers and sisters who have been crippled by prolonged drought and war in the recent years. We know that many internally displaced families were coming here to Mogadishu from the neighboring regions of Bay, Bakol and Lower Shabelle where famine has been reported,” said IHH Chairman Sardash Jam.
Meanwhile reliable information obtained by Somalia Report confirmed late on Monday that the IHH Deputy Chairman, Mr. Murad, along with 2 other Turkish officials have reached al-Shabaab controlled N50 IDPs camp Aala-Yasir in the Lower Shabelle region.
The source confirmed that the Turks met with al-Shabaab official, Sheekh Hassan Abu- Ayman, who is responsible for the Bay and Bakol regions.
The Turkish members moved from government controlled areas of Mogadishu through Sarkuusta Checkpoint near the Ex-control Checkpoint in the southwest area of the capital. Somali government troops reportedly escorted the Turkish delegates until they reached Sarkuusta.
From there the Turkish delegates managed to travel into the rebel held areas. According to the same source, the Turkish aid workers were escorted by a large, armed convoy believed to be carrying some al-Shabaab fighters.
The IHH members are reportedly in the al-Shabaab camps to observe, but sources told Somalia Report that the members addressed hundreds of IDPs at the Aala-Yasir camp.
"Three Muslim Turkish brothers visited our controlled territories in Lower Shabelle region to help the internally displaced people at the Aala-Yasir Camp,” said senior al-Shabaab official Sheikh Hassan Abu Ayman. “They brought us aid and pledged more and we will be grateful for their assistance."
Turkish aid workers who visited Aala-Yasir camp said a local NGO called Zam-zam, which often operates in the districts controlled by the Islamist militia, has also been collaborating with IHH.