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Former Al-Shabab Commander Denounces Terror Group

A former senior Al-Shabab commander, Zakariya Ismail Hersi, speaks during a press conference at the presidential palace in Mogadishu, Somalia, Jan. 27, 2015.

A former top commander of Somalia's al-Shabab terror group says he has quit the insurgency, renouncing the violence perpetuated by his former comrades.

Zakariya Ismail Hersi served as intelligence chief of the al-Qaida-linked organization before surrendering to Somali authorities last December.

"From now on I will convey my principles and beliefs through peaceful means and understanding," Hersi said during a news conference in Mogadishu Tuesday.

Addressing ranking members of the militant group, Hersi said: "I urge my friends to solve disputes through negotiation and peaceful means.”

In June 2012, the U.S. offered a $3 million reward for Hersi's capture, describing him as an associate of former al-Shabab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane.

Hersi has said that differences with al-Shabab's leadership prompted him to leave the group.

Al-Shabab, which is affiliated with al-Qaida, is trying to overthrow the Somali government and turn the country into a conservative Islamic state.

Somali and African Union troops have had success in beating back the militants over the past year.

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