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.