Al Shabaab woes continue as one of its top leader’s defects to join the government in one of the latest moves by the foreign fighters who feel the outlawed group lost its mandate and it’s now a militia group not fighting a religious war but rather focusing on politics and oppression of innocent Muslims. Zubair al-Muhajir says he has defected and is now in Mogadishu with the Somali government.
He had traveled from London to join the group in 2006. He rose through the ranks and ultimately became a member of al-Shabab’s Shura Council of religious scholars.
Al-Muhajir, originally from Ivory Coast, told the VOA Somali program Investigative Dossier that he fell out with the group in 2013 when its Amniyat force arrested him and imprisoned him for three years where he was tortured, oppressed and even sodomised daily.
“I defected because al-Shabab, they are lying to the Muslims and to the world,” he said. “They are claiming to implement the Sharia (Islamic law) which is not true because I know from incidents where they went against the Sharia. I have seen my fellow foreign fighters executed for no reason. I have decided enough is enough!”
He says the group uses Sharia just to “betray the people, fool them, and lie to them. “The reality of their actions is totally against their Sharia – they are killing innocent people and they are lying to the people.”
In recent times, Al Shabaab has experienced a lot of misfortunes. The combined forces of AMISOM and the USA have seen it lose her fighter in battles. It is estimated they have lost more than 5,000 soldiers since AMISOM penetrated their strongholds. Their key commanders have also been killed which has immensely destabilized their leadership from the top. The loss of Ahmed Iman and Mohamed ‘Kuno’ Gamadere was a major blow to the group.
Internal leadership wrangles have also been a major factor in destabilizing the group. The group is split into different factions on leadership. This has led to infightings an assassination of key leaders of the group. Clan issue is another factor that cannot be ignored. A particular group will only support a member from their clan when it comes to leadership. A battle of supremacy has ensued with the clans both fighting for the supreme post at the helm of the group.
Pundits argue that these factors do more harm than good to the group. They have been weakened from inside which leaves the group vulnerable to external attacks.