A leader with extremist group al-Shabaab, who had a US$3 million bounty on his head, surrendered in Somalia, a Somalian intelligence official said on Saturday.
Zakariya Ismail Ahmed Hersi surrendered to Somalian police in the Gedo region, said the intelligence officer, who insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.
Hersi might have surrendered because he fell out with those loyal to Ahmed Abdi Godane, al-Shabaab’s top leader, who was killed in a US airstrike earlier this year, the officer said.
Hersi was one of seven top al-Shabaab officials whom the administration of US President Barack Obama offered a total of US$3 million in rewards for information leading to their capture in 2012. It is not clear if the reward will be paid out because Hersi surrendered.
Despite major setbacks this year, al-Shabaab remains a threat in Somalia and the east African region. The group has carried out many terror attacks in Somalia and some in neighboring countries, including Kenya, whose armies are part of the African Union troops bolstering Somalia’s weak UN-backed government.
On Thursday, al-Shabaab launched an attack at the African Union base in Mogadishu. Nine people died, including three African Union soldiers, in the attack on the complex, which also houses UN offices and Western embassies. Al-Shabaab said the attack was aimed at a Christmas party and was in retaliation for the killing of Godane.
The group also claimed that 14 soldiers were killed, but it often exaggerates the number of people it kills.
Al-Shabaab is waging an insurgency against Somalia’s government, which is attempting to rebuild the country after decades of conflict.
Al-Shabaab controlled much of Mogadishu from 2007 to 2011, but was pushed out of Somalia’s capital and other major cities by African Union forces.
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