News / Africa

Al-Shabab Leader 'Captured' in Somalia

Senior al-Shabab officer Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys leads faithful in prayers on the first day of Eid al-Adha in Somalia's capital Mogadishu November 6, 2011.
Senior al-Shabab officer Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys leads faithful in prayers on the first day of Eid al-Adha in Somalia's capital Mogadishu November 6, 2011.
Gabe Joselow
Somali officials say they have captured a leading al-Shabab commander designated a terrorist by the United States. The new development underscores a growing rift within the group.
 
Local officials in central Somalia say Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys was captured in a coastal area around three in the morning.
 
A spokesman for the Himin and Heeb administration, which controls the region, said the militant commander was apprehended without a fight.
 
“After long negotiation with him and his fighters we were successful to convince him to hand himself to the authorities,” said spokesman Mohamed Omar Hagafey
 
The spokesman added the administration is now discussing a handover with the Somali federal government.
 
Aweys, who is in his 70s, is the former leader of the extremist group Hisbul Islam, which fought against Somali authorities and merged with al-Shabab in 2010.
 
But in the last year, Aweys has been critical of other al-Shabab leaders, evidence of growing tension in the group.
 
A United Nations monitoring group report on Somalia released last year says the Aweys faction is “considered to be more pragmatic” than the other wing of al-Shabab, headed by Ahmed Abdi Godane.
 
Independent Horn of Africa researcher Abdiwahab Sheikh Abdi Samed says Aweys only aligned himself with al-Shabab because he had no other options.
 
"He was there by default, not by design," said Abdisamed. "He was under intensive pressure from al-Shabab, in fact, he was virtually (under) house arrest so he can’t do anything.”
 
Abdisamed says it is possible that Aweys surrendered himself to the authorities, believing his life to be in danger.
 
The Aweys wing of al-Shabab has always been more interested in Somali affairs, rather than taking part in a global jihad, which is the aim of the Godane faction.
 
While Godane claims to be working with al-Qaida, Abdisamed says it is unlikely that Aweys has the same ties with the terrorist group.
 
“Because al-Qaida would never trust Hassan Dahir Aweys, because Hassan Dahir Aweys believes in establishing an Islamic state within Somali borders, so beyond the Somali borders, he doesn’t care,” he said.
 
Analysts say it is unclear what impact Aweys’ apprehension will have on al-Shabab since the aging leader’s authority has been weakened since joining the group.
 
Al-Shabab has lost territory and influence in the last two years, and has been pushed out of its major strongholds in the capital and the port city of Kismayo due to concerted military operations led by the African Union peacekeeping force AMISOM.
 
But the group remains the most serious security threat to the country, and has claimed responsibility for attacks on government and foreign targets, including an assault last week on a UN compound in the capital that killed at least 21 people.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Cabdullahi Xuseen from: Somalia
June 26, 2013 6:18 PM
It does no longer matter if he is pragmatic or not. There's no good terrorist in this world. Hassan Aweys is a terrorist,cruel and malicious person who is devoted the destruction of Somalia. He brought ruinous damage to Islam. He reportedly supervised the killings and rape of numerous of Somali male and female. He surrendered himself now because he lacks the courage in facing danger. He should be handed over to US and let him rotten in Guantanomo Bay Prison, that's where he belongs.

In Response

by: M .amin from: Afganistan
June 27, 2013 6:29 AM
shaykh Hassan have been a nice and a Mujahid person.this is why he is terrorist caus he is against America and their pupet rajime in Somalia or other countries.

In Response

by: abe from: canada
June 27, 2013 4:14 AM
Pragmatist?
He is dedicated killer for sure, if that 's what you mean by pragmatist. How soon did we tend to forget the mayhem created by Hizbel Islam under the leadership of non other than Hassan Awey on the Somali people and its neighbors.This guy with his brown color bear was boosting hale in Mogadishu, Addis Ababa,and Nairobi,and now u call this old terrorist pragmatist.

He should be tried in a free and open court and get what he deserves.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid