Wednesday, June 26, 2013
One of the senior officials of Al-Shabaab, the radical
Islamist group vehemently opposing the Somali government, Sheikh Hassan
Dahir Aweys, has reportedly been captured.
The controversial clergyman was reportedly seized
by forces loyal to Himan and Heb State, a self-declared authority in
Himan and Heb State spokesman Mohamed Omar Hadafey
told the media that Sheikh Aweys was captured at around 3am local time
Earlier on Tuesday, reports from Adado town, 475km
north of Mogadishu, the capital of the authority, stated that forces
led by new President Abdullahi Ali Mohamed caught up with Sheikh Aweys
and his followers around the coastal areas.
Mr Mohamed was elected president of the self-styled state on June 13.
“Tension remained high when the President and his
forces reached the coastal areas where Sheikh Aweys and his militias
were,” said Mr Hadafey.
“Luckily, the clergyman surrendered without putting up resistance,” he added.
Earlier reports from Hobyo, about 500km northeast of Mogadishu, confirmed that Sheikh Aweys reached the area on Monday.
The hardliner cleric reportedly sneaked out of
Barawe, a coastal town, about 200km south of Mogadishu, by boat on
He apparently fled to avoid further confrontations
with loyalists of Sheikh Mukhtar Abdurahman Abu Zubayr, the Supreme
Leader of Al-Shabaab.
There have been reports of recent clashes in Barawe and in other places between rival Al-Shabaab militants.
Sheikh Aweys and other Al-Shabaab top officials
like Sheikh Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansoor, Sheikh Ibrahim Haji Jama alias
Al-Afghani and Omar Shafik Hammami alias Al-Amriki, an international
jihadist originating from the US, have been opposing Abu Zubayr, also
known as Ahmed Abdi Godane, accusing him of totalitarianism.
At Fah, between the districts of Haradhere (about
400km northeast of Mogadishu) and Hobyo, Sheikh Aweys is said to have
assembled militants in a bid to move towards Hobyo.
On Tuesday, however, Al-Shabaab sent a message via
its jihadist information outlets, that some senior group officials were
unlawfully engaging in irresponsible propaganda against the Islamist
The Al-Shabaab dispatch accused unnamed officials
of employing malicious tactics to undermine the movement’s values and
It stated that Sheikh Aweys went missing from a house in Barawe, without stating when.
“They (the accused officials) were dismantling the unity of the movement’s loyalists,” stated the message.
“They spread misleading reports, confusing the jihadists,” it added.
Latest reports from the area confirmed that Sheikh Aweys was now firmly in Adado town.
Sheikh Aweys, a former leader of the defunct Hizbu Islam, an Islamist movement, joined Al-Shabaab in December 2010.