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.
In an interview with the Voice of America (VOA) published Tuesday, 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.
The Somali government under President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo has an amnesty program for al-Shabaab fighters who have defected. According to Farmajo, its main aim is to “pardon the Somali youth who were misled by al-Shabaab” after they renounce their membership.
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.
On Dec. 28, 2019, at least 85 people were killed — including two Turkish nationals — and more than 150 others wounded in a truck bombing in the Somali capital Mogadishu. Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack.