The recent death of Sheikh Ahmed Iman after a US airstrike struck a building in Lower Shabelle has sent ripples through the Al Shabaab organization and especially its top leadership.
Ahmed Iman, also known as Abu Zinira Al-Kenyi was among the highest ranking Kenyans in Al shabaab. He hailed from Majengo in Nairobi where he was the leader of Muslim Youth Centre (MYC) and is a former student of Kenyatta University. He was known to be an active radicaliser, master propagandist and defacto leader of the Kenyan fighters in Al Shabaab, and was said to have pioneered the El Adde attack of January 2017 that led to the death of more than 130 Kenyan troops. One of the most wanted men in the world, he was killed together with 40 other Al Shabaab members, most of them top commanders while attending a high profile meeting.
Following his timely death, several rifts have emerged within Al Shabaab ranks with Kenyan and other foreign fighters encountering persecution by their Somali counterparts. According to reports, Ahmed Iman and his cohorts were sold out by another Al Shabaab top commander who decried lack of equality between the local and foreign fighters, thereby giving out the location of the said meeting. This comes even after 4 Kenyans accused of spying for security forces were executed by Somali Al Shabaab militants.
Not only has this led to mass desertion by Al Shabaab militants from the group, but also several cases of defections as witnessed with the surrender of Ibrahim Mohammed Bitow, another of Al Shabaab’s top commanders. It is reported that he surrendered together with over 100 of his loyal fighters, a sure sign of panic even as AMISOM and SNA close in on the last Al Shabaab surviving strongholds.
Al Shabaab is now on the run with small pockets still occupying few towns in the south and central Somalia. Multiple news sources have announced its impending demise even as the global fight against terror seems to have achieved a sure victory.