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Last updated: June 2022

This profile refers to civilians accused by Al-Shabaab of spying for the government, for AMISOM or other international actors, and for FMS forces or administrations.

This sub-profile should be read in conjunction with the Overview.

COI summary

[Targeting, 6.3]

Al-Shabaab considers ‘spying’ for the government, for AMISOM or Western countries or FMS administrations and forces, as a crime punishable by death.

Religiously and politically motivated killings affecting civilians (men and women) affiliated with the government, AMISOM or other international actors (US Intelligence agencies CIA and FBI and the UK’s MI6), and FMS administrations have been reported throughout 2020 and the first six months of 2021. Examples of such incidents include: the execution by a firing squad of five persons accused of spying in Middle Juba region in March 2021, the execution of a man accused of spying on behalf of Hirshabelle regional intelligence in September 2020 and the execution of two men in Lower Jubba region who had been convicted by an Al-Shabaab court of collaborating with foreign forces in January 2020.

Al-Shabaab has referred to espionage as the main reason for its executions. The level of proof required to proceed to an execution is ‘quite low’ and the accused are never allowed access to a lawyer. Executions are public in order to send a clear message of what would happen to anyone not complying with Al-Shabaab rules. Local residents are compelled to attend and watch the execution being carried out. When individuals are arrested for rebellion or alleged spying, intercessions by clan elders have had no impact, while they can be successful in other instances. Al-Shabaab has also executed some of its own members for alleged espionage.

Risk analysis

Civilians perceived as ‘spying’ for the FGS, the AMISOM or other international actors and the FMS could be exposed to acts which are of such severe nature that they would amount to persecution (e.g. execution).

In South-Central Somalia and Puntland, well-founded fear of persecution would in general be substantiated in the case of civilians perceived as ‘spies’.

In Somaliland, where the group has limited operational capacity, well-founded fear of persecution in the case of civilians perceived as ‘spies’ could be substantiated in individual cases. Risk-impacting circumstances (e.g. visibility of profile, area of origin and presence of Al-Shabaab) should be given due consideration.

Nexus to a reason for persecution

Available information indicates that persecution of this profile is highly likely to be for reasons of (imputed) political opinion and/or religion.




See other topics concerning persons associated with the government of Somalia and/or international actors: