Hussein Farrah Aydiid

Hussein Farrah Aydiid

Country Ruled: Somalia

Years Ruled: 1996 - ?

Current Residence: Ethiopia


Farrah was born on Aug. 16, 1962, in the Somali town of Belet Uen. He was the second son of Asli Dhubad, the first of Aidid's four wives. At age 14, he immigrated to Southern California with five siblings and his mother, who had separated from his father.

Farrah remained in the United States for 16 years. He attended Covina High School, near Los Angeles, graduating in 1981. Six years later, in April 1987, he joined the Marines, and was trained as an artilleryman.

"I always wanted to be a Marine," he told The Associated Press. "You know how it is watching Marine soldiers. I'm proud of my background and military discipline. Once a Marine, always a Marine."

After basic training in the summer of 1987, he skipped active service and went straight into the reserves. He was assigned as a corporal to Battery B, 14th Marine Regiment, in Pico Rivera, Calif.

Around the same time, he began taking courses at Citrus College in Glendora, Calif. Three years later, he also started studying civil engineering at the University of California at Long Beach. He has not earned a degree from either school.

On Dec. 12 1992, Farrah was sitting in an engineering class when two Marine officers knocked on the door, interrupting the lecture, and said he was urgently needed in Somalia. The United States had just sent 28,000 troops to safeguard U.N. shipments of food to the starving country. The Marines needed translators.

For three weeks, Farrah served as an interpreter and a liaison between the American forces and his father. But the relationship between the United Nations and Aidid quickly soured, and the Marines sent Farrah home on Jan. 5.

By mid-1993, Aidid had become evil personified in the United States and at the United Nations. In addition to diverting food aid and relief supplies, his fighters had ambushed 24 Pakistani peacekeepers. The United Nations placed a $25,000 price on his head. Eighteen American troops were killed trying to capture him. Americans were shocked by the image of the body of one American soldier being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu.

Back in California, Farrah had resumed his life as a weekend warrior and a struggling engineering student. He also went back to work in the West Covina engineering department, updating water maps, counting cars in traffic, working on computers.

In July of 1995, shortly after doing his two-week summer stint as a Marine at Fort Sill, Okla., he suddenly returned to Somalia with his wife and small son. He notified his commanders that he would miss drills for three months because he would be traveling outside the United States.

He did not return to school in the fall. Instead, his father took him under his wing and began grooming him for a top spot in the clan's military organization, diplomats and U.N. officials said.

In 1996 when his father Mohammed Farrah Aydiid died from gunshot wounds, Farrah took over. In his new role, the man known in the United States as Hussein Farah added the name Aydiid, an honorific that he says translates as "perfectionist" or "strict leader."

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Mr. Aydiid is currently tied up with affairs in Somalia, but may become available soon.

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