A senior al-Shabaab fighter who traveled from London to join the al-Qaeda affiliated al-Shabaab militant group in the Horn of Africa has defected to the Somali government.
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In an interview with the Voice of America (VOA) published Tuesday, Al-Shabaab fighter Zubair al-Muhajir, who was born in Ivory Coast and joined al-Shabaab in 2006, said he fell out with the group in 2013 when he was arrested and imprisoned for three years by its elite Al-Amniyat unit, which specializes in carrying out assassinations, choreographing and staging suicide attacks and gathering intelligence.
“I defected because al-Shabaab, they are lying to the Muslims and to the world. They are claiming to implement the Sharia (Islamic law) which is not true because I know from incidents where they went against the Sharia,” he told VOA.
“The reality of their actions is totally against their Sharia – they are killing innocent people and they are lying to the people.
“If the people realize that the ideology is wrong with Islamic proofs, I think al-Shabaab will no longer be there for a long time,” he added.
Al-Muhajir also revealed that while in Al-Shabaab, he was appointed the head of a committee to arbitrate a bitter dispute between the late leader Ahmed Abdi Godane and three other commanders namely; Ibrahim al-Afghani, Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansour and Fuad Mohamed Khalaf Shongole in 2011.
The then Al-Shabaab Emir, Godane rejected his mediation efforts and subsequently execution of al-Afghani followed in June 2013. Robow eventually decamped from the terror group while Shongole is still working with Al-Shabaab.
A number of key commanders and operatives were detained for allegedly opposing Godane. Zubair al-Muhajir says he was among those detained.
The Somali government has an amnesty program for al-Shabaab fighters who have defected.
Security analysts in East Africa have said the inducement by the Somali government has prompted a significant number of youths to defect from the group.