Jul 24, 2017

Former Al Shabaab commander rejects invitation to rejoin group

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Mukhtar Robow Ali Abu Mansur

Mogadishu (HOL) – Former rebel commander leader Mukhtar Robow Ali Abu Mansur was allegedly demanded by Al-Shabaab to rejoin their group but has rejected the offer, according to a local government official.

“We are hearing that Al-Shabaab has pressured Mukhtar Rooboow to return to their organization and that he refused. He is currently surrounded by Al-Shabaab fighters.” the Mayor of Hudur, Mohamed Moallim Mohamed said in statements made to VOA.

Al-Shabaab militants have been camped outside Mukhtar Robow’s stronghold in Hudur, Bakool since first hearing of his possible defection weeks ago.

“The President of SouthWest State said that both he and the Federal Government are skeptical that he [Mukhtar Robow] will rejoin the group.” added Moallim.

Robow is reportedly staying in a village about 18 km (11 miles) from Hudur, the capital of Bakool region in southern Somalia. He is said to be surrounded by 400 “well-trained and well-armed…fighters who will die for him”.

Last month, The US Government removed a $5 million reward for the capture of the former spokesman and deputy leader of Al-Shabaab. The President of Southwest State Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden welcomed the decision to remove him from the Rewards for Justice program.

Al-Shabaab suffered a devastating blow three weeks ago when Somali government officials confirmed that they were in direct negotiations with Mukhtar Robow – and even willing to provide military reinforcement to repel an Al-Shabaab advancement.

“There was and is, negotiation going on between Mukhtar Robow and the Somali federal government but still there is no guarantee that he will defect,” Colonel Aden Ahmed, an officer in the national military, told Reuters on June 30 from southwestern Hudur town, near Robow’s stronghold.

“Those troops are now on the outskirts of the town. We cannot send them directly for many reasons. Al Shabaab may ambush us, Robow himself may ambush our forces. We shall give reinforcement to Robow only after we confirm that fighting between al Shabaab and Robow breaks out.”

Several media outlets in Somalia circulated stories that Robow and his forces would defect to the government after the shock election of President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo.

Mukhtar Robow fell out of favor with the insurgency in 2013 after challenging the leadership of Ahmed Abdi Godane. He retreated back to the Bakool region and despite enjoying relative autonomy he seemingly remained loyal to the group. His refusal to rejoin Al-Shabaab raises hopes that he may work with the Somali government and reduce Al-Shabaab’s operational capacity in the region.

Source: Hiraan online

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