Somalia: Somali Singer Arrested, Accused of Al-Shabaab Links

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(file photo).

Authorities in Somalia are detaining a local singer who they say was a turncoat supporter of al-Shabaab.

In a tweet on Wednesday, Somalia's National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) said they had arrested Abshir Garane Ahmed, who was a member of a music band associated with Benadir local government in Mogadishu.

They accused him of "spying" for al-Shabaab.

NISA posted a video of the musician allegedly confessing he was a finance manager of the Shabaab.

It wasn't clear for how long Ahmed sang on the band, but the authority also posted older videos of him singing, suggesting he may have used his public appearance as a singer to conduct covert militant operations.

"NISA planned the operation and had secretly followed the suspect for a long time," the agency said in a tweet posted in Somali language on Wednesday.

"He will be handed over to the courts [for prosecution]."

If found guilty, Somali law allows up to a death penalty for terrorists.

The revelations came as authorities in Mogadishu fight public perception that al-Shabaab has infiltrated government agencies, including NISA itself.

The arrest also follows a series of car bomb explosions in Somalia, one of which killed at least 85 people in December. On Sunday, another car bomb went off, injuring at least a dozen people, among them Turkish nationals.

The militants have also recently increased attacks in neighbouring Kenya, targeting communication and security installations along the border with Somalia. Last week, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta authorised police to launch a major counter-terrorism operation against terrorists and their sympathisers.

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