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Top Al-Shabaab official Aweys 'captured' in Central Somalia

Africa Review
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 Central Somalia.

Himan and Heb State spokesman Mohamed Omar Hadafey told the media that Sheikh Aweys was captured at around 3am local time Wednesday.

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 Saturday evening.

He apparently fled to avoid further confrontations with loyalists of Sheikh Mukhtar Abdurahman Abu Zubayr, the Supreme Leader of Al-Shabaab.

Confusing the jihadists

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 movement.

The Al-Shabaab dispatch accused unnamed officials of employing malicious tactics to undermine the movement’s values and principles.

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.


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