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Mohamed Farrah Aidid

Mohamed Farrah Aidid (1934 - 1996) was a Somali politician and clan leader who hindered international famine relief efforts in the early 1990s and challenged the presence of UN and US troops in the country.

Aidid was educated in Rome and Moscow and served in the government of Siad Barre in several capacities, in the end as intelligence chief. Barre suspected him of planning an overthrow and had him imprisoned for six years. In 1991, the clan of Aidid did indeed overthrow Barre, and Aidid emerged as a major force in the ensuing civil war.

Aidid hindered international food deliveries and attacked UN forces in 1992. As a result, the US put a $25,000 bounty on his head and attempted to capture him. In October 1993, a comando of US Rangers and Delta forces set out to capture several officials of Aidid's militia in an area of Mogadishu controlled by him. The operation did not go as planned, and 18 American soldiers as well as about 500 Somalis died as a result (see Battle of Mogadishu for details). America withdrew its forces soon after, and the UN left Somalia in 1995. Aidid then declared himself president of Somalia, but his government was not internationally recognized.

Aidid died in August 1996, possibly as a result of gunshot wounds sustained a week earlier in a fight with competing factions. One day later, US general William Garrison, who was responsible for the failed 1993 operation, resigned.

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