A months-long dispute among senior members of Somali insurgent group Al Shabaab took a worse turn Saturday when a senior commander condemned the group's top chief, Radio Garowe reports.
Sheikh Fuad Mohamed Khalaf "Shongole" gave a publicly address at a mosque in Mogadishu's Bakara Market, saying that Al Shabaab chief Ahmed Abdi Godane alias Sheikh Muktar Abdirahman Abu-Zubeyr has "hidden agendas."
"A leader is he who addresses his people and leads his people towards all good things, but fighting everyone is not part of the solution," Shongole said.
Local sources report that the dispute among Al Shabaab's top leaders intensified earlier this month when Al Shabaab insurgents attacked and seized Burhakaba town, located in Bay region northwest of Mogadishu.
Upwards of 30 people were killed in the clashes between Al Shabaab and Hizbul Islam insurgent factions. Burhakaba had previously been under the control of Hizbul Islam, a group led by Islamist hardliner Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys.
"The fighting in Burhakaba was not jihad, because its haram [prohibited] for a Muslim person to kill another Muslim person and then brag about it," Shongole said publicly at the mosque.
Insiders say Shongole is allied to Al Shabaab's deputy commander, Sheikh Muktar Robow "Abu Mansur," a native of Bay region. Godane, Al Shabaab's top chief, is a native in northwestern Somalia separatist region of Somaliland and has no population base in southern Somalia.
This is the first time that a senior member of Al Shabaab has publicly condemned Godane, thereby publicly revealing the fractures that occurred within the group since September fighting when upwards of 800 Al Shabaab fighters were killed in Mogadishu clashes with African Union-backed Somali government forces.
Abu Mansur was reportedly angered by the massive losses suffered by Al Shabaab, but his dispute with Godane briefly disappeared from the public until Shongole's public comments.
The U.S. government designated Al Shabaab as a terrorist organization in early 2008, subsequently followed by other Western powers including Australia.