Zakariah Ahmed Ismali, a former Al Shabaab member risked his life and that of his family when he made a decision to leave the blood thirsty Al Qaeda linked militia group. Zakariah Ismali says little did he expect a group that was purely meant to liberate Somalia from the state’s enemies would soon turn to terrorism and most of all turn against Muslims and the Islamic religion to which they pledge their loyalty.
From a man who held senior positions in Al Shabaab’s divisions including that of senior “military” intelligence to one who is striving to recollect his life from where he left, Zakariah says that most of those in the militia group want out owing to the fact that the group’s operations and deeds do not resonate with those of the Islamic religion as touted by conniving recruiters and radicalizers out here.
Zakariah among other returnees have one thing in common; they can all agree that even within the group and communities the militia has inhabited Sharia laws are highly misused; According to the former Al Shabaab leader, beheading, rape, sodomy, sexual slavery, grabbing and confiscating personal property from ‘wrong doers’ are just some of the gestures most of those in the militia group do not agree with.
But why are they still in the group? The Al Shabaab leaders have gone to desperate measures to maintain members even against their will. “They call your family and threaten to kill them if you leave the group. Most families have even disowned their family members to distant themselves from the terrorist group.” Said Abdul Kumar*, a captive looking forward to leaving the camp.
To make sure none of the recruits leaves the group, members of the group also face stern penalties most of which is stoning to death and for women, they serve as sex slaves to multiple men and are eventually killed.