Al-Shabaab militia group is at its weakest point. It has been weakened financially, militarily and politically in recent days. Somali’s harsh climatically conditions and the country’s devastating drought has forced Al Shabaab militants to live on strained finances as funders continue to disown the militia group. This is because many local communities now lack the resources to meet the militant group’s tax demands.
They have been put on the back foot following the stepped-up tempo by AMISOM and international communities on ground operations conducted in conjunction with Somali government troops.
Somali people no longer have faith in Al-Shabaab. They no longer enjoy political support from these people especially because of the bombing in Somalia that killed hundreds of civilians. This does more damage to their reputation than anything else. They don’t even want to be protected by them. They claim that the so called protection comes with a hefty cost.
Al-Shabaab is also facing another challenge of drawing new recruits. Youths in Somalia have become aware of the misuse and ill-treatment one goes through in the hands of the militia once he joins. They are no longer falling into the enticing tactics the Al-Shabaab used to entice youths with. Youths have become aware that there is no “money-factor” as Al-Shabaab claims. Their number has drastically reduced to an extent that they are actually abducting children from communities that are unable to make protection payments.
They coaxed the locals by telling them that if they can’t give them resources, then they should give them their kids.
The defections from the terror group are also posing a threat to its diminishing. Of late, there have been mass defections from the group. The Somali government is helping those who are voluntarily leaving the group to integrate with the society. The Kenyan government is also playing a key role into this.
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.
A Senior Al Shabaab leader has surrendered to the Somalia Federal Government. The returnee by the name Adan Mohamed aka Adan Shah gave himself up to SouthWest authorities in Baidoa town to where he surrendered his gun and an assortment of weapons.
The former leader was together with seven other militants who also gave up their weaponry. Following a 60-day amnesty given by Somalia President Abdullahi’s Farmajo in February, Al- Shabaab members have come forward to authorities in large numbers.
A week ago, another leader alongside five militants surrendered to the Somalia Federal Government in the same area and are currently collaborating with the authorities in giving intelligence about the Al Qaeda linked militia group.
The beefed up surveillance and security by troops deployed in the regions of Somalia has led to the significant rise in defectors.