Somalia: Al-Shabab denies its leader is dead
MOGADISHU, Somalia - A senior commander in al Shabaab, Somalia’s al Qaeda-affiliated Islamist rebels has denied reports saying that the group's leader, Ahmed Dirie, popularly known as Abu Ubeidah has died, Garowe Online reports.
A pro-al-Shabab website, citing unnamed commander reported that Abu Ubeidah was "alive and safe", dismissing Somali military claims of the leader's death as "baseless."
On Tuesday, Somali military officer told army radio that the group's spiritual leader Ahmed Dirie [Abu Ubaidah] has passed away over kidney disease in a rebel-held town in southern Somalia.
Security analysts said that if Ahmed Dirie's death was confirmed, it would be likely to damage the organizational structure of Al-Shabab, the deadliest extremist group in East Africa.
In September 2014, the Islamist group al-Shabab has named Ahmad Dirie as successor to former leader Ahmed Abdi Godane, who was killed in a US air strike near the coastal city of Barawe in Lower Shabelle region on 1st September 2014.
Abu Ubaidah is the Islamic militant group's third leader since it was founded in 2006.
The group which lost swathes of territory to SNA and AMISOM wants to overthrow the UN-backed Somali government and frequently attack government targets as well as neighboring countries that provide troops to the AU force.