6 September 2017

Somalia: Govt Puts Bounties On Al Shabaab Leaders

Photo: Hassan Mahamud Ahmed/IRIN
Members of the militant Al-Shabaab in southern Somalia.

A number of Kenyans fighting for Al Shabaab in Somalia want to return home after a fallout within the militia, according to intelligence gathered by the police.

A confidential police report shows the Kenyans include Ahmed Iman Ali aka Abu Zinira and at least five other terrorists.

According to the report, some of Iman's loyal followers likely to decamp alongside him include Juma Ayub Otit Were aka KB, Erick Achayo Ogada aka Nabhan, Ramadhan Kioko aka Pinji aka Abu Nuseiba, Suleiman Irungu Mwangi aka Karongo aka Maalim Zakariya aka Idriss, and Mohamed Tajir Ali aka Wahome.

The five each have a Sh2 million police bounty on their heads. They were all among the co-founders of MYC in Majengo and looked up to Iman for guidance.

It is Iman who recruited them while in Majengo and facilitated their travel to Somalia to join Al Shabaab around 2009.

His planned move is also likely to demoralise other foreign fighters, including those from Tanzania, Uganda, Egypt, and Libya and aggravate the existing tensions between local Somali and foreign fighters.

"They are contemplating defection from the group after being disgruntled and fearing execution," reads part of the report. The 21-page report says Iman had hatched a plot to establish his own local Jihadi group within Boni Forest in Kenya, riding on Al Shabaab's resources.

The group was to later detach from the mainstream organisation and form a splinter that would operate independently under his command.

Their objective was to penetrate the country and spread its influence, particularly in the northeastern and coastal parts of Kenya.

"Since the Al Shabaab leadership would not trust a foreigner to lead such a major unit, the leadership, then under Ahmed Abdi Godane, nominated a Somali, Maalim Ayman, to lead the Jihadi group, which was then christened Jaysh Ayman." Felt betrayed Iman reportedly felt betrayed and sent an advance team of his cronies - Rashid Mohamed Bwajuma and Mohamed Khalid aka Cortez - to Kenya to lay the ground for his defection. He also asked Muhamed Mutevi, aka Musa Bamee, to coordinate with Kenyan government officials over the planned defection.

The report further states that Iman issued two conditions for his surrender: That his family members should not be prosecuted and that he would not be turned over to the Somalia government or other countries that may want to try him.

He also promised to cooperate with Kenya in the fight against Al Shabaab. Kenyan security personnel Tuesday declined to comment on the leaked document. Musa was among the co-founders of MYC in Majengo but, unlike other members, he has never travelled to Somalia to join Iman.

He has, instead, been the local coordinator for Iman and financial facilitator for the Kenyan Al Shabaab fighters from Majengo who are based in Somalia. In November 2016, Musa was arrested for threatening to assassinate a member of the Ward Peace Committee and Nyumba Kumi in Kamukunji but was released for lack of evidence.

The dossier also claims that the defection of Mukhtar Robow, one of the Jihadi icons and mentor of Iman, in mid-August, 2017, also contributed to the planned defection.

Specialised training Robow, one of the co-founders of Al Shabaab and at one time the deputy emir, received specialised training in Afghanistan from Al Qaeda and has travelled widely in the arenas of terrorism, where he has gathered enormous experience.

He also once served as an Al Shabaab spokesman, military commander, and spiritual leader. His recent defection from Al Shabaab due to ideological differences and misinterpretation of religious texts by the group has been seen as one of the motivating factors for Iman's planned defection.

Iman further consulted with some senior Kenyans within the Al Shabaab ranks, including Habib Karongo and Maalim Salman, who urged him to go ahead and surrender in order to test the waters for their sake. The report also explains that Iman's defection has been compounded by the mistreatment of his Kenyan followers.

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