A Kenyan who rose through al-Shabaab ranks to become a poster boy for the terrorist organisation is on the run, after a fallout with other commanders who want him executed.
Ahmed Iman alias Kimanthi, who appeared in numerous al-Shabaab propaganda videos taunting Kenyan troops fighting in Somalia, the terrorist group's stronghold, is now seeking to surrender to Kenyan forces and get an amnesty, the Nation has learnt.
Until the fallout, he was close to the current Al-shabaab supremo Ahmed Diriye and Mahad Karate, also known as Abdirahim Mohamed Warsame, who commanded Al-shabaab's Amniyat, its intelligence wing, at a time when gunmen stormed Garissa University college and killed 147 students in April 2015.
International Security sources operating in Somalia, have told the Nation that Iman, has been the head of a group of foreign fighters who together with him, are now on the run from the main group loyal to Diriye and Karate.
A number of Kenyans and other foreigners who joined Al-shabaab militants in Somalia have since been captured and executed.
On November 6, a 25-year-old Kenyan from Garissa was among four people who were publicly executed by Al-shabaab militants in Somalia.
Mr Omar Adar Omar was killed by a firing squad on accusations of spying the Africa Union Mission in Somalia, which comprises the Kenya Defence Forces.
The fallout is further complicated after emergence of another faction that has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Syria, while Diriye's group maintains its formal partnership with Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.
The Nation has further learnt that Iman, in a bid to escape from Somalia, has cheated several dragnets to capture him.
Al-shabaab is well known for executing militants within its own ranks whenever there is a fall out.
The latest developments are a repeat of what happened to Fazul Abdullah Mohamed, who was killed in a set up laid by Godane Ahmed Abdi Godane alias Mukhtar Abu Zubeyr, who is Diriye's predecessor.
Godane was later killed in a joint operation by United States and KDF in Somalia.
Besides assuming the role of commander of foreign fighters in Somalia, Iman also has a great influence in Jaysh Ayman, another Al-shabaab faction operating in Boni forest which spreads across the Kenyan - Somalia border in Lamu county.
Furthermore, Iman is also said to be getting foreign funding directly further angering indigenous Somali commanders, the sources also said.
A 2016 security report published by the Nation then, revealed that Iman and accomplices in Nairobi, collected millions of shillings every year by renting shops and kiosks in Umoja and Majengo, and the money was smuggled to Somalia to fund terrorism activities.
In one of Al-shabaab propaganda videos, he was seen clad in KDF uniform, holding a walkie talkie and an M-16 rifle, which he claimed was one of the arms looted from El-Adde Forward Operating Base which was overran by the terrorist in January 2016.
Besides Kenya whose soldiers are operating in Southern Somalia, Al-shabaab is also being fought by the United States and other countries in Amisom, including Ethiopia, Uganda, Burundi and Djibouti.
KILLED IN AIRSTRIKE
On Tuesday, 100 Als-shabaab militants were killed in an airstrike by the US.
"In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. forces conducted an airstrike in Somalia against an al-Shabaab camp at approximately 10.30 local Somalia time, killing more than 100 militants. The operation occurred 125 miles northwest of the capital, Mogadishu," according to a statement by US Africa Command.
It added: "US forces will continue to use all authorized and appropriate measures to protect Americans and to disable terrorist threats. This includes partnering with AMISOM and Somali National Security Forces in targeting terrorists, their training camps and safe havens throughout Somalia, the region and around the world."
The Kenyan Al-shabaab commander, also known at home as Kimanthi and Ahmed Abu Zinira, is the fugitive who graduated with an Engineering degree from Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology before joining Al-shabaab.
Until 2009, Iman was the organizing secretary of Pumwani Riyadha Mosque Committee in Majengo, Nairobi, but disappeared without notice.
The disappearance was later explained after he surfaced in Somalia, where he escaped to, after his cover as an Al-shabaab secret operative was blown.
Iman is responsible for the preparation of media themes, most notably the propaganda videos after the September 2013 Westgate mall attack and also Mandera killings in which Christians were separated from muslims and slaughtered.
In the clips, which are since unavailable after they were pulled down by You Tube Iman says that the killings were carried out to avenge the killing of radical Muslim clerics.
In those videos, he named the clerics as Aboud Rogo, Samir Khan and Sheikh Abubakar Shariff alias Makaburi.