Mohamed Ali Samantar
General Mohamed Ali Samantar was a native citizen of Somalia. He played a major role in the 1969 coup d’etat that brought Siad Barre to power, and would remain a prominent figure in the Barre’s military regime.
As a young man in the 1950s, Samantar was elected a member of the newly formed Somali army and was sent to study at the Italian Casano di Roma Staff Infantry Academy for two years (1954 – 1956). He also took further training at the Scuola di Polizia (Police Academy) in Mogadishu. In 1960, Samantar joined the officer corps of the Somali National Army (SNA). In 1965, he was selected to study abroad at the Frunzi Academy in Moscow (1965 – 1967). Upon his return, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.
From January 1980 to December 1986, Samantar served as Minister of Defense and First Vice President of Somalia. In January 1987, he was appointed Prime Minister, a position he held until September 1990, months before the collapse of the Siad Barre regime.
He personally oversaw the aerial and land attacks on Hargeisa in May and June of 1988, and had command over the forces that were engaged in indiscriminate attacks upon the civilian population. A 1989 U.S. State Department report concluded that 5,000 civilians were killed in the assault.
When Siad Barre and his supporters were ousted in 1991, Samantar fled to Italy, finally arriving in the United States in 1997. He was served with the complaint at his home in Fairfax, Virginia in 2004.
In 2012, in open court and in the presence of CJA’s clients, Samantar finally accepted responsibility for his crimes. The U.S. district court awarded our clients $21 million in damages. Samantar died at the age of 85 on August 19, 2016.