My conscious wouldn’t allow me to bomb my people, says celebrated ex-fighter pilot Ahmed-deere at his biographical launching in Hargeisa

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He ditched his Mig-17 plane on a sandy Djibouti beach in defiance of bombing order to annihilate poor Hargeisa masses

 

A well-organized event attended by cabinet ministers, senior government officials, members of parliament, eminent personalities and politicians, poets and numerous guests from a cross-section of the members of the public converged in a city hotel resort to grace the occasion of launching a biographical book celebrating and honouring the former Somali Air force fighter pilot; who disregarded orders to bomb Hargeisa flat in June 1988 and opted to fly to the neighbouring country of Djibouti ditching the then Mig 17 he was piloting at an empty beach along the Red Sea shores.

The former Lt. Colonel Ahmed Mohamed Hassan alias Ahmed-deere is a house-hold name and figure in Somaliland and has been highly hailed, accorded and showered with many a praise by all and sundry in the country including successive government administrations.

Popularly known locally as the “People’s Pilot” for refusing to perpetrate genocide by spilling innocent blood, the book loosely translated from Somali “The Humane Pilot” was launched at the evening of Thursday/Friday night with scores of speakers noting the book for highlighting the struggles the nation underwent in the wake of genocide in the era of the ill-fated union with Somalia all through to re-establishing its nationhood.

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Of note, the celebrated pilot in his speech to the audience upon the presentation of the book urged the readers to appreciate situations that led to such inhumanities and perpetrations of ills and take heed of the best way forward for the aspirations of the populaces by learning from history.

He thanked all those who participated in the presentation of the book authored by Ali Abdi Oomay, and said that he will not forget the kindness shown to him by the leaders and the people of Somaliland.

“The history told about me touches me intensely, my conscious could not allow me heed the orders which would have undermine my professional oath hence I opted to escape out of the country and ditch the plane where I could in Djibouti”.

He said that detailed chronologies of the events are well documented in the book.

Speaker after speaker showered the ex-fighter pilot with praises for his legacy, prayed for his wellbeing and wished him the best of good tidings while urging that his humane conduct ought to be emulated.

Most of them revisited and gave re-caps of the events leading to, during and after the struggles.

The ex-fighter pilot Ahmed joined Somalia’s Air Force in the early 1970’s where he rose through the ranks to become a Lieutenant Colonel. His family is from the Banadir region, and he hails from the Abgaal clan.

Somalia’s military dictator Siad Barre launched a relentless offensive against SNM in Somaliland. As a heavy-handed response, Barre ordered the destruction of many urban centres in the country leading to the death of an estimated 50k to hundreds of thousands of mainly members of the Isaaq clan.

In May 1988, Barre ordered Somali National Army fighter jets to level the city. The indiscriminate bombing and the carnage left in the wake left earned it the name “the Dresden of Africa.”

It is in this climate that on July 13, 1988, Ahmed-deere was ordered to go on a bombing campaign in Hargeisa. Once in the sky, Ahmed-deere bravely refused his command and switched off his radio. He flew his Russian-made MiG-17 fighter jet to Djibouti where he made an emergency landing on a sandy beach.

He was granted political asylum in Europe and settled in Luxembourg with his wife and children.

He was given a medal of honour by the Somaliland government in 2020.

Similarly, he was heroically greatly welcomed in the country in 2009 and 2013 and was extensively interviewed by local press.

It is expected that more banquets will be thrown to his honour in the coming days that h is still in the country.

Indeed, he is a darling of Somalilanders wherever they are and hold him with high esteem.

Over the years, he has told journalists that as an air force pilot, he took a solemn oath to protect Somalia from its enemies and not ironically bomb its own. He said to bomb his people would be a betrayal of that oath. He refused to spill the blood of his countrymen.

The Hargeisa campaign was one of the most gruesome theatres of the Somali civil-war as thousands perished at the hands of government troops.

On May 18, 1991, the SNM re-asserted the independence and re-established the Somaliland Republic, a former British colony that first got independence in June 26th 1960.

It is not recognized by the international community despite bearing all the hallmarks of a modern nation-state.

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