Senior Al-Shabaab commander defects in southern Somalia


MOGADISHU, Somalia - A senior Al-Shabaab commander surrendered to authorities in Hudur town, southern Somalia, police said, in yet another big score against the militants.

Olad Abdirahman Hiirow contacted government authorities in the town before surrendering himself, ending his decade link with Al-Shabaab, police said.

Southern Somalia has been a terror hotbed for the militants, who have often braved numerous airstrikes especially in Jilib town, their supposed headquarters.

Ibrahim Isack Ibrahim, the district commissioner, confirmed Hiirow's surrender, adding that he was close to another top commander being sought by the Somalia government.

Before his defection, the district commissioner said, Hiirow contacted close relatives whom he informed about his decision to quit the Al-Qaida linked group.

He said: "The man initially talked to relatives to inform his plan then we were told the story about him, so we gave him a chance to clarify his agenda."

After the defection, the government has often encouraged former Al-Shabaab fighters to register with authorities for counseling and repatriation to the society.

For now, Hiirow is under the authorities in Southern Somalia, where he's facing intensive investigations before his fate is determined.

“He is undergoing investigation to know much about his role and other important issues if any” Ibrahim said, adding that "this is a big win for government".

Located in the Bakool region, Hudur town has been under Al-Shabaab unending surge for years with the group's often blocking humanitarian aid to the region.

On Saturday, America's B-52H bomber jet was sighted in the region, although AFRICOM was quick to clarify that the army used it for training purposes.

The town was liberated in 2014 by Somali National Army [SNA] troops with the aid of AMISOM soldiers, even though the militants have often blocked all routes accessing the region.

A much degraded Al-Shabaab group currently operates in remote areas in central and southern Somalia, but have recently launched sporadic attacks within the capital Mogadishu.

Last week, another Al-Shabaab Amniyat commander, Muse Moalim Mu'awiye, ditched the terror group in Mogadishu. He was in charge of intelligence in the Banadir region.

Ahmed Omar, the group's leader, is said to have also expelled Mahad Karate and Bashir Qorgab last week from the executive council known as Tanfid over irreconcilable differences.

The group has been waging both direct attacks and IEDs raids against security forces and foreigners across East Africa, despite suffering casualties in the process.


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