The mercenaries – largely former soldiers from the German army – could even end up fighting forces trained by their former colleagues, as the European Union, including 13 Germans, is training government troops.
Television station NDR reported over the weekend that the firm Asgaard German Security Group, run by Thomas Kaltegärtner, a former German officer, has confirmed it will be sending more than 100 men to Somalia.
Kaltegärtner said one group was already on its way.
They will be working for the self-styled ‘elected president of the republic of Somalia’, Galadid Abdinur Ahmad Darman. He rejects the Transitional Federal Government of President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, which is supported by the international community.
Darman said the Germans would be crucial for his plans to take over the country, NDR reported.
They will undertake a wide spectrum of tasks, he said. “Security, the development of our forces and our operations. We are fighting a war, there is house-to-house fighting. They will train our military.
“But at the same time they will help us in the fight against piracy. And if necessary they will also be required to fight. They will fight together with our units.”
Kaltegärtner said the contract was to protect military personnel, property and convoys – using fully-armed men. “Should the worst happen – that means that if there is an attack on the patrol, or the convoy, the team will react. One has learned that,” he told NDR.
Security experts warned that the German mercenaries could make a bad situation in Somalia significantly worse by transforming Darman into a player in the chaotic failed state.
“It will certainly not have a peaceful effect should a new, armed actor enter the game,” said Annette Weber, from the Institute for International and Security Affairs.
Dustin Dehez from the Dusseldorf Institute for Foreign and Security Policy said three armed groups were already vying for influence in the capital city Mogadishu – as well as the peace-keeping troops of the African Union (AMISON).
“If it turns out that Darman actually seeks out a military encounter, for example with AMISON, there would certainly be a bloodbath,” he said.
The German Foreign Ministry said it knew nothing of the contract, a spokesman said, stressing that it had no contact with Asgaard German Security Group.