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President Mohamud: Mukthar Robow can convince Al Shabaab fighters to defect

Sunday December 4, 2022

Former al-Shabab group co-founder and spokesperson Mukhtar Robow sits among colleagues after he was named as the minister in charge of religion by Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre in Mogadishu, Somalia, Aug. 2, 2022.

Mogadishu (HOL) - Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud believes that the federal religious affairs minister Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansoor could convince some of his former allies to leave Al Shabaab.

"We want to show the al-Shabaab leadership that if they surrender they will not be humiliated, they will not be mistreated," President Hassan Sheikh said in an interview with the British daily newspaper, The Guardian.

President Hassan Sheikh said Robow has established communication systems with the mid-level members of Al-Shabaab and is encouraging them to switch sides. He added that the government was using a "carrot and stick" approach to reach out to active fighters.

Former deputy leader and co-founder of al-Shabaab, Mukhtar Robow, defected from the militant insurgency in 2013 due to differences with the group's late leader Ahmed Abdi Godane. Robow officially surrendered to Somali authorities in August 2017. The Somali government soon imprisoned him after he made a bid for the South West State presidency in late 2018. He was sentenced to three years of house arrest for his political organizing before being tapped by Somalia's Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre as the federal Minister for Religious Affairs.

Somalia's new government said it would prioritize its battle against Al Shabaab through a multi-pronged 'total war' that includes military action but also cutting off their revenue streams and aggressively countering extremist ideology.

Robow, who has insisted that he has long had very public ideological differences with Al Shabaab, believes that active militants will be more receptive to hearing counter-extremist ideology from one of the pioneers of Islamist militant groups in Somalia.
Muktar Robow Abu Mansur (left), former spokesperson and deputy of Al-Shabaab, advises former ally Ali Mohamud Raage (right), the current spokesperson for Al-Shabaab in May 2009. Reuters/FEISAL OMAR


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