The Rise and Fall of Abdi Illey


Today Ethiopian federal police arrested former Ethiopian Somali region president Abdi Mohammed Omar (Abdi Illey) from his Bole Atlas home in Addis Ababa. His arrest came day after the removal of his immunity by the regional council. The removal of immunity also targeted seven other officials who were part of Abdi Illey administration. including former Rahma Haybe, head of Women & Children Bureau; Abdijamal Ahmed, head of the Justice Bureau; Ibrahim Adan, head of the Education Bureau; Deq A Buralle and Omar Mohammed, members of the Council. According to the federal prosecutor Abdi Illey is arrested for crimes against humanity, inciting ethnic and religion violence. According to police there will be more arrest in the coming few days in ties with Abdi Illey. In addition to his arrest police confiscated several machine guns and weapons from his bole residency.

Early Life

Abdi Mohamud Omar (Abdi Ilay) is the oldest of three siblings (two sons and daughter) of his mother,Diib and the Lat eMohamud Omar. Although Abdi Ilay belongs to Qabridahar town as his sub-clans’ traditional territory, he grew up in the Degahbur as his hometown, probably after his late father got married to Mrs. Deep. Reportedly, Mr. Ilay took his primary school in Degahbur town, where he dropped out grade six (6) in early 1990s and never returned back to schooling; though claimed later of attending distance higher education.-


In 1990’s Ethiopian Electric and Power Corporation branch office in Degahbur informally hired Mr Illay as a bill collector. But due to a clash with customers he was later on transfered to work as Electric-Pole erector and he has been working on this job till 2003.

From 2005 till 2010 Abdi Illey has served as security head for the region. In that time he was mainly known for the creation of a formidable special force called Liyu Police. Under his command Liyu Police has been operating in cracking down any form of resistance specifically in Ogaden region by any means necessary. As a result the force has been known for their killings,torture and rape. – HRW

Since 2010 Abdi Illey has been serving as regional president for Ethiopia Somali region before his submitted his resignation. His resignation came on August 6  after a three days of standoff between his force (Liyu Police) and federal army. Prior to the arrival of reinforcement federal army force several churches has been burnt and civilians were also targeted resulting in several deaths.  

After his resignation Abdi Illey whereabouts were not revealed until today. In a breaking news televised by ETV showed a man who ones was feared by everyone being escorted out from a compound near Bole Atlas.

Ogaden Liberation Front (OLF)  welcomed Abdi Illey arrest with the following tweet. 

Today’s arrest of Abdi Iley is a step in the right direction towards accountability and justice for all those who have suffered under his brutal dictatorship. He has left a bitter legacy of pain & suffering for which the noble people of the Ogaden region must be healed.— ONLF (@ONLFofficial) August 27, 2018