2 December 2009

Somalia: Senior Al-Shabab Commander Defects to Govt

A high-ranking Al-Shabaab commander has joined Somali government after deserting the rebel group.

Sheik Ali Hassan Gheddi, who was the deputy commander in-chief of Al Shabab fighters in Somalia's Middle Shabele region took the decision to join the government side after realising his group was not working for the interest of the civilians.

"Al-Shabaab's cruelty against the people is what forced me to defect to the government side. They extort money from the people and deal with them against the teaching of Islam," he told reporters at the Somali Information Ministry compound in Mogadishu.

He cited the recent Al-Shabaab ban on United Nation's World Food Programme (WFP) as the main reason for his defection.

"The recent Al-Shabaab veto on WFP is the biggest contributor to my decision because I felt it affects the civilians," he said.

Sheikh Gheddi added that he is a well-known figure among Islamist in the country and that Al-Shabaab would not refute his defection as malicious.

Sheikh Abdirahn Isse Adow, who is the former Union of Islamic Courts spokesman and now serving in Information Ministry, welcomed the defector on behalf of the government.

He is the second high level Al-Shabaab official to join the government in less than a month.

Last month, Sheikh Mohamed Sheikh Abdullahi Faruq (Al Pakistani), a senior Al-Shabaab commander absconded the group and joined the government.

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