The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Senior Al Qaeda Official Killed in Mogadishu Attack

A senior foreign al Shabaab official was killed last night after the man he was deputizing was killed in January in a suspected US drone attack.

Sakr was killed in an explosion in Mogadishu last night in what is suspected to have been a trap laid for him. He was the deputy of Lebanese al Shabaab commander Bilal Al Berjawi who was killed in Elasha Biyaha. Sakr was expected to take over the command of a number of foreign militia fighting alongside al Shabaab against AMISOM and Somalia's Transitional Federal Government troops.

However, there have been several killings of foreign fighters since al Qaeda leader Aymaan Zawahiri announced the merger of the group to al Shabaab. The killing of foreign fighters in Somalia has split the al Shabaab with one group led by Ahmed Godane based in Kismayu, and another allied to Ali Mohamed Rage, Hassan Dahir Aweys and Mukhtar Robow.

In early January, Rage, Robow and Aweys held a crisis meeting to discuss the killing of Berrjawi whose death was blamed on Godane. "Some of our colleagues may be involved in this latest killing to pursue their own goals," Robow was quoted telling a crowd in Afgoye shortly after the meeting. The killing of al Qaeda's East African leader Abdul Fazul Mohamed at a roadblock in Mogadishu in June 2011 then his deputy Al Berrjawi and now Sakr has led to mass escape to Yemen by foreign fighters who are afraid of being killed in the infighting. Sakr was arrested in Kenya in 2009 alongside Berrjawi on suspicion of their involvement in terror activities, but they were deported. It is suspected that Godane's faction is conspiring to eliminate foreign fighters anmd commanders allied to al Qaeda in order to take over as the commander.

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