September 21, 2019
It was 1983. It was a meeting between the leaders of Somali Salvation Democratic Front (SSDF) and Mengistu in Addis Ababa. Among the SSDF Side, there were Abdullahi Yusuf, Front’s Chairman, and Abdirahman Caydiid, a member of the Executive Committee and leader of the left wing of the organization. On the Ethiopian Side, there were Mengistu Haile-Marian, the Chairman of the Ethiopian Dergue, and the two Ethiopian Cabinet Ministers of Public Security and National Defence with their respective top aides. It was one of the routine occasional meetings on the Front’s operational and defence cooperation issues. It wasn’t supposed to be as controversial as it turned out to be in that day.
Suddenly and unexpectedly, Caydiid went solo to accuse Dergue Security and Defence Ministers of anti-revolutionary activities against Socialist Ethiopia, and sabotage against SSDF. This sent shock-waves across the faces in the meeting. It was clear that the meeting couldn’t go on that day. Mengistu, however, before signing off, had requested (rather instructed) Caydiid to submit a report on his allegations against the ministers. Caydiid agreed.
In a few weeks later, someone claiming to represent the Office of Chairman Mengistu had phoned Caydiid to inquire about the progress of the “Report”. Caydiid was ready to submit it. In just just hours later, an officer appeared at doorsteps of Caydid’s residence in Addis Ababa to demand handing-over the report. In a few days, the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Public Security, Moges Habte-Mariam, warned Caydiid “to leave us alone”. Caydiid agreed to that on two conditions. First, Caydiid claimed that he was the President of a Somali Communist Party. He had cadres all over the world to reach out and travel to. He needed two facilities from Ethiopia:
- Diplomatic passports for himself and his supporters on demand.
- Travel funds for his occasional delegations.
The Permanent Secretary accepted Caydid’s demands by informing him to submit official request from the SSDF Chairman, Abdullahi Yusuf. In 1984, about one year later, after those developments, Abdirahhman Caydiid and his colleague, Iikar Haji Mohamed Hussein, were assassinated in the City of Dire Dawa in eastern part of Ethiopia. Abdi Muhumad, the famous Somali song-writer, was slightly injured in that murder case.The Dergue Government didn’t conduct any investigation on the crime.The wife of Abdirahman Caydiid, Amina Nur Godane, initially accused Ethiopian Security to be behind her husband’s assassination, but, later she had changed her story, accusing the Chairman of the SSSDF of the murder, which didn’t make sense at all.
In another, possibly, related incident, SSDF INTELLIGENCE UNIT had foiled a plot to assassinate the Chairman of SSDF, Abdullahi Yusuf. SNM Chairman then, Ahmed Mohamed Siilanyo, the same Amina Nur Godane and a top Ethiopian intelligence officer were implicated in that plot. Upon receiving the news of the failed plot, Abdullahi Yusuf was arrested. That action paved the way to SSDF dismantling as an effective armed opposition to the Regime of Siyad Barre.