ELECTION: How Puntland could be lost to terrorists in Politics Posted December 9, 2013 Somalia's semi-autonomous region of Puntland is scheduled to hold a presidential election in early January 2014. The vote will be conducted only by 66 carefully selected lawmakers and will not be open to the general public. So far over 25 candidates have expressed their interest for Puntland's top job. There is no elimination nor preliminary stages. According to reliable information obtained by Hawdian Institute for Strategic Studies, at least five of Puntland's main candidates are said to have links with current and former extremist groups including Al-Itihaad al-Islamiya, Islamic Courts Union and al-Shabab. Few of them have been said to have direct link with Sheikh Mohamed Said Atom, who is the head of al Shabab's Puntland wing in the Galgala mountains. Those described as having links with radicals including: 1) Ali Hajji Warsame 2) Dr. Sadiq Eenow 3) Abdirahman Mohamed Gablah 4) Al Haj Mohamed Yassin (Iley); a prominent-wealthy business man, Al Haji Mohamed made his fortunes in the real estate first in Zimbabwe then Kenya. He is stunt believe of Sharia Law and many of al Shabab's ideologies. In a 2010 interview in Kenya, he said he will implement Sharia Law across Somalia if he ever becomes the president. He said al Shabab were targeting the former transitional leader Sheikh Sharif because he betrayed them and that was half of their problem. He said the other half is Sharia and he has the answer to both of their demands. In my opinion, the Al-Shabaab problem can be solved in two ways. First half of their attacks are targeted towards an individual Sheikh Sharrif whom they feel sold out on them. With him gone, 50 percent of their demands will have been met. The other 50 percent of Al-Shabaab demands and that of other religious sects is to implement the Sharia Law and get rid of foreign troops from AMISOM who the official opposition claims are foreign invaders. If elected I will implement the Sharia law in consultation with the Supreme Council of Religious Affairs. We will harsh out how and when to implement it given that the current parliament unanimously ratified its implementation. Lastly with political reconciliation and a competent local police and military we can ask the foreign troops to leave the country. The foreign jihadists will also be asked to disembark. [Hoping for stability, Somalia moving toward choosing new parliament and president - The Associated Press (2003) http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P1-78802850.html] Al Shabab sympathizers, financiers and leaders have already successfully infiltrated into Puntland's various apparatus and are awaiting for the perfect opportunity to gain full control. The upcoming election will not only be a test for Puntland but for the whole region as terrorists shift their strategies. Radical groups continue to slowly pour into all major towns in Puntland. It was just days ago, when they carried out the deadliest attack in five years in the commercial port city of Bosasso leaving at least 8 dead. The car bomb likewise left scores injured many of them life threatening. Their push into Puntland both militarily and politically is very real. The likes of Al Hajji continue to get funds from wealthy Qatari business associates under the pretext of charity or donations. The current president of the region, Dr Abdirahman Farole, remains the only true leader who has proved himself before in such volatile region. He is equally considered the guardian of Somalia's Federal Constitution unlike his closest rival Dr. Abdiweli Gas, the former Prime Minister. Abdiweli is often described as an agent of Mogadishu's central government that believes in centralization policy. The Hawdian Institute for Strategic Studies believes the region with the help of the international community should help the current President Dr Abdirahman Farole preserve and guide Puntland's stability and the decentralization process of Mogadishu. Both Mogadishu and al Shabab remain a critical threat.