Former Somali warlord spoke at Minneapolis City Council candidate’s fundraiser
Nasri Warsame’s guest speaker was Hussein Farrah Aidid, whose father’s militia took on the U.S. in ‘Black Hawk Down’
Minneapolis City Council candidate Nasri Warsame (left) and Hussein Farrah Aidid (right) at a recent fundraiser in Minneapolis. Facebook screenshot
A Minneapolis City Council candidate held a June fundraiser featuring the scion of a Somali political family whose patriarch was known as a ruthless warlord whose clan-based militias intercepted food shipments and attacked U.N. peacekeepers.
The late Mohamed Farrah Aidid was a key player in a 1990 coup, after which Somalia’s government collapsed in 1992 amid famine.
His son, Hussein Farrah Aidid, spoke at a fundraiser for Nasri Warsame, a DFL candidate running against Council Member Aisha Chughtai.
Warsame’s law-and-order campaign was hampered by a fracas that broke out during the Ward 10 DFL endorsing convention after Warsame supporters took over the stage as Chughtai was about to speak.
Hussein Farrah Aidid was a successor to his father Mohamed Farrah Aidid, whose militia engaged the U.S. military in the Battle of Mogadishu, as recounted in the book and movie “Black Hawk Down.” Somalis dragged the bodies of U.S. soldiers through the streets.
Said Salah Ahmed, a retired University of Minnesota instructor, said he was astonished to hear Hussein Farrah Aidid was the guest speaker at a Warsame’s fundraiser, and said most Somalis would not give him a warm reception.
“It’s reflective of the dark time,” he said of the civil war years, “when the warlords were in action and many people suffered.”
Before the civil war, Ahmed attended a peace conference with Mohamed Farrah Aidid, whom he called a warlord who “spoiled the whole situation.”
Hussein Farrah Aidid served as a translator and liaison to his father in Mogadishu for a few weeks in late 1992 and early 1993. He had immigrated to California as a teenager in 1979, joined the Marine Corps and served in Kuwait during Desert Storm, according to Military.com.
Aidid was working for a local government in California in 1993 when the Black Hawks went down. He later told the Los Angeles Times he watched in horror as it unfolded on TV, saying the death of U.S. Rangers “was like a black hole inside of me.” The next day, a Marine commander asked him to beg his father to release a captured American pilot, he said.
Hussein Farrah Aidid visited Somalia in 1995 — the same year his father declared himself president of Somalia and named him as successor.
After being wounded in battle, Mohamed Farrah Aidid died in 1996, and his powerful Habr Gedir clan declared his son their leader, at age 33. He left his $9 an hour California job and returned to Somalia, where he “assumed control of his father’s militia, inherited a vast swath of territory and became one of Somalia’s most powerful warlords himself,” the Times said.
He began referring to the Black Hawk Down incident as a “gloomy day for the aggressors” and a “victorious day for the Somalis.” By 2007, he was interior minister for Somalia’s transitional government, trying to restore security to Mogadishu, and told the Times he never developed the taste for life as a warlord.
“My father was a general,” he said at the time. “He did things by action. I reversed. I flipped the coin. I did things through reconciliation.”
But militiamen loyal to him were responsible for public executions, according to the Christian Science Monitor. He was described by the Times as a “wily opportunist who switches alliances easily” but struggled to get out from under his father’s shadow.
“He went back and forth between cooperating with the United Nations and continuing the fight for control of the country,” Military.com reported.
Hussein Farrah Aidid, who could not be reached for an interview, eventually renounced his claim to the presidency and signed a UN-brokered peace agreement sharing control of Mogadishu. He defected to Eritrea in 2007 but later hired a Miami political consulting firm to support a run for president of Somalia.
Experts say both father and son contributed to the instability and chaos in Somalia.
“Both are still vilified in some parts of the country for using ruthless tactics to crush opponents,” the Times reported.
On social media posts, Warsame called Hussein Farrah Aidid “My brother, the boy who is the lion of Africa,” Neither Warsame nor his spokesman responded to an interview request.
During his speech, Hussein Farrah Aidid urged Somali-Americans to unite around Warsame, calling on them to forgive each other and reject clan tribalism, which he called evil, a video of the event shows.
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