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Al-Shabab Executes 5 Accused of Spying

FILE - Members of Somalia's al-Shabab militant group patrol on the outskirts of Mogadishu, Somalia, March 5, 2012.
FILE - Members of Somalia's al-Shabab militant group patrol on the outskirts of Mogadishu, Somalia, March 5, 2012.

Somalia's al-Shabab militants have executed five men, including a British citizen, whom they accused of spying for U.S., British and Somali intelligence agencies.

An al-Shabab court in the town of Jilib convicted the men Tuesday. The five were executed by firing squad in a square named after Aden Hashi Ayrow, a Shabab leader killed by a U.S. missile strike in May 2008.

On Wednesday, al-Shabab identified one of the executed as 32-year-old Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed, a British citizen who left London to join the group.

Al-Shabab arrested Mohamed in late 2015, accusing him of spying for British intelligence and of being a ringleader for pro-Islamic State fighters within the group.

Two defectors who knew him told VOA Somali that he was tortured by al-Shabab while in their custody. "He was tortured to the extreme, he couldn't recognize his friends in the prison," said one defector.

In November 2013, Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed fled Britain using a burqa as a disguise, though he was under surveillance for terrorism activities.

At the time, British authorities were embarrassed by his escape because he was subject to so-called terrorism prevention and investigation measures (TPIM) which involve curfews and travel restrictions.

Three of the other men executed Tuesday were accused of spying for U.S. intelligence. Al-Shabab identified them as Abdi Aziz Abdi Salam Sheikh Hassan, 22; Mohamed Abdullahi Awil, 35; and Jeylani Abdullahi Nur, 36.

According to the Shabab court, Hassan admitted to planting a tracking device in the bag of a militant commander.

Awil was accused of involvement in a U.S. airstrike that killed militants in the town of Saakow.

According to the court, Nur said he planted tracking devices on two al-Shabab vehicles that were then targeted in U.S. airstrikes, and admitted to passing information about the homes of jihadists to Somali authorities.

The fifth man executed was identified as Abdulkadir Isaq Amin, 23. Al-Shabab accused him of spying for Somali intelligence. He was collecting information about militant movements for the Somali authorities in Lower Jubba region, according to the judge.

The United States has carried out 25 airstrikes in Somalia this year, all of them targeting Shabab militants. The latest strike took place on October 6 in the vicinity of Kunyo Barrow, in the Lower Shabelle region. The U.S. military says one militant was killed.