Al-Shabab Claims Responsibility For Trying To Bring Down Somalian Jet With Wheelchair Laptop Bomb — Had Intended To Target Turkish Airlines?

Al-Shabab, a jihadist group in Somalia, has claimed responsibility for attempting to down a Daallo Airlines jet. The group added that they intended to target Turkish Airlines, but had to improvise due to a last minute change in flight schedule.

Islamist militant group al-Shabab, which predominantly operates in Somalia, has claimed responsibility for the suicide bomb attack on a passenger plane. However, the group shared it did not intend to target the Daallo Airlines jet. The group wanted to target Western officials and Turkish NATO forces as a retaliation for presence of Western intelligence operations in Somalia. The claim comes after it was confirmed that the bomb that blew a hole into the side of the passenger jet was caused by a small explosive.

The Improvised Explosive Device (IED) was secretly smuggled aboard Daallo Airlines’ Airbus 321 passenger jet by being stuffed inside a laptop, thereby giving it the nickname “laptop bomb.” To further ensure the bomb made it on board, it was handled by a suicide bomber who was in a wheelchair. CCTV footage indicated a few personnel, stationed at the airport, assisted in getting the bomb delivered onto the jet.

While claiming responsibility, al-Shabab categorically noted that they initially wanted to bomb a Turkish Airlines flight, reported the Star. In fact, majority of the passengers aboard the Daallo Airlines flight were scheduled to fly with Turkish Airlines, stated Daallo Airlines chief executive Mohamed Ibrahim Yassin Olad. However, after Turkish Airlines cancelled its flight from Mogadishu that morning because their incoming flight from Djibouti could not come to Mogadishu due to bad weather, Daallo Airlines accepted the otherwise stranded 74 passengers. Among the passengers was the wheelchair-bound suicide bomber.

The jihadist group added that the attack on the Daallo Airlines flight was part of an operation targeting dozens of Western intelligence officials and Turkish NATO forces, reported All Africa. Al-Shabab has been operational in Somalia for quite some time. The group intends to overthrow Somalia’s government. With strong affiliations with al-Qaeda, al-Shabab wants to establish a state based on its radical interpretation of Islamic law. Numerous suicide bombings have been attributed to the group in the region.

The laptop bomb did blow a hole in the side of the flight, but it failed to crash it. The pilot of the passenger jet managed to turn the flight around with a gaping hole in its side and landed it safely at Mogadishu airport. The incident claimed only one victim, whose body was later discovered by locals.

After the botched bombing attempt, the group insists that while the operation did not bring down the plane, “it struck terror in the hearts of the crusaders, demonstrating to the disbelievers that despite all their security measures and the strenuous efforts they make to conceal their presence, the Mujahedeen can and will get to them.”

The position of the hole and the location had prompted security officials to suspect it was a bombing attempt, which later proved true. Somali Transport and Aviation Minister Ali Ahmed Jama revealed that the mid-air explosion had been caused by a bomb. Miraculously, the bomb failed to destroy the plane’s navigation systems and though the flight had severely lost cabin pressure, making it unstable, the pilot managed to make an emergency landing.

Initial investigations identified the suspected bomber as Abdullahi Abdisalam Boleh. He was the sole victim of the bomb attack. Apparently, Abdisalam was sucked out of the aircraft through the hole that the laptop bomb tore in the plane, reported USA Today.

Last week’s bombing attempt on a Somalian jet is the third airplane attack that al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for.

[Photo by AP Photo]