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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs