A defector from Somali-based Islamists militant group has urged others to quite the terror group that has waged war in the horn of Africa for more than a decade.
After defecting to the government side, Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansur, former al-Shabaab’s spokesman, said the group did not represent the interests of those it claimed to.
“I left al-Shabaab because of misunderstanding, and I disagreed with their creed which does not serve Islamic religion, people and the country,” he said.
Robow is said to have fallen out with the Islamists group in 2013, keeping a low profile in the jungle with his forces until last week. Al-Shabaab is said to have made several attempts to kill or capture him but was not successful.
“I urge the militants to leave al Shabaab,” Robow told reporters at a heavily guarded hotel in Mogadishu. He took no questions.
Robow’s defection comes two months after the United States removed a $5 million reward for his capture and took him off its list of sponsors of terrorism. It was not immediately clear if the timing of the defection was linked.
His defection however gives pro-government forces more freedom to operate in the regions of Bay and Bakool, cutting al Shabaab’s operational territory in two.
Al Qaeda-allied al Shabaab were forced out of the capital Mogadishu in 2011. They have also since lost nearly all other territory they previously held after an offensive by Somali government troops and African Union-mandated AMISOM peacekeepers.