Numerous Al-Shabaab members surrender in Somalia after defecting their ranks
MOGADISHU, Somalia – A significant number of fighters from Al-Shabaab have defected and surrendered in Somalia, in response to the amnesty provided by the Somali government. This move comes as the national army prepares to launch a second and potentially final assault on the remaining militants who still hold control over large areas of rural central and southern Somalia.
Reports indicate that more than 100 militants have already crossed over to the government’s side and are now supporting the stabilization process in the Horn of Africa nation. This marks the largest single defection from the group, and it could significantly weaken Al-Shabaab, which has been fighting to overthrow the fragile UN-backed federal government of Somalia.
The director of the National Counter-Terrorism Center, Abdullahi Nor, confirmed that over 107 militants have defected to the government, with many taking advantage of the amnesty offered. The Somali government has agreed to reintegrate the defectors into the community after providing them with rehabilitation.
Although no specific timelines were given, the government’s decision to grant amnesty to those willing to defect from Al-Shabaab is seen as a strategic move to provide exit opportunities for militants who were increasingly under pressure from the government. The aim is to weaken the terrorist group’s structure.
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is currently leading the military campaign in central parts of the country. He has already visited Galgaduud and Mahas within the Hiiraan region, appealing to the locals for their support in the ongoing offensive against militants throughout the country. The president expressed confidence that the country will stabilize in the future.
Furthermore, President Mohamud is actively working to identify and disrupt the sources of revenue that sustain Al-Shabaab’s operations. Intelligence teams have already aided in the closure of more than 250 bank accounts and 70 mobile money transfer firms associated with the group.
The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia [ATMIS] and US Africa Command teams have been assisting in the stabilization efforts. It is expected that the Somali National Army will assume full security responsibility from ATMIS by December 2024, contingent upon a successful stabilization process.