Mahamed Said

Mahamed Said was born on the 19th of January 1997 in Warder, in Ethiopia. He emigrated to Italy, and at the time of his arrest, he was living in Turin. It is worth noting that before his arrest, he had started the process of changing his name to that of Mohamed Hussein Marwan, and his birthplace to the city of Jowhar in Somalia. This process was likely initiated to facilitate the obtainment of refugee status (initially denied) and housing rights, as Jowhar in the last years has been highly contested between al-Shabaab and government forces. He was arrested on the charge of financing foreign terrorist organisations, partly identified in the Ogaden National Liberation Front and al-Shabaab. In the intercepted phone calls there was no indication of his intention to conduct violent attacks anywhere.

The financial support that Mahamed Said delivered to the aforementioned parties is to be inserted into the criminal network managed by Dubad Rashiid. In this network, it appears that Said was not as prominent a member as other collaborators such as Mohamud Shuaib or Ahmed Isidiin. In fact, during the investigations from September 2018 to May 2019, while Rashiid managed to wire to Somalia roughly 7000€ and Isidiin almost 3000€, Said only managed to collect “a few hundred dollars/euros”. It is again important to stress that this operation most likely started before the initiation of the investigations; an analysis of his phone records showed 86 contacts with Mohamud Shuaib (currently hiding in Germany) between December 2017 and September 2018. To wire the money he also made use of the hawala system and money transfer services so as to guarantee anonymity. Only one of his trustees was identified and localised in the Somali border town of Wajale.

The low sum can partly be explained by the difficulties faced by the different accomplices in terms of employment. Even so, a phone call made with Shuaib highlights some interesting aspects of his motivations and behaviours. In the call Said appeared worried about the troubles affecting the region where his family lives, he talked about violent family feuds and clashes to control access to water wells. These preoccupations fit well in the tribal/familiar conflict dynamics of Somalia more than they fit the extremist -salafi-jihadi – vision of al-Shabaab. This is also confirmed when, in the call, Said says: “since they killed your father and mine, the feud never stopped”.
Said was well aware that the money they would send to Somalia would have been used to buy weapons, and was fully supportive, but he also admitted to Shuaib that he had difficulties finding the money to send and that he avoided phone calls from the other group members in fear that they would believe he didn’t want to help.
Apparently, members of Said’s family had started doing Tahrib (contraband) between Ethiopia and Somalia. This emerges as an element of distress for Said who was afraid that should the authorities arrest his relatives, he wouldn’t have been able to pay their bail. In the conversation, this becomes a reason for both to consider moving to another country, likely Germany, in search of better pay.
At this point, Said also appears to be relatively knowledgeable when it comes to moving across borders without being detected. In fact, he advised Shuaib not to access food banks, not to approach charity associations, and to ensure he has reliable contacts there.

These are all elements for which the Italian police categorised Mahamed Said as a “flight risk” and required preemptive incarceration. He is currently held at the prison of Sassari and is awaiting trial at the first-degree court of Bologna.