A leading Somaliland politician says his son, who joined the Islamic State militant group five years ago, was killed in Syria.
Faysal Ali Warabe, leader of the UCID party who ran for president of the self-declared republic during the November 13 election, says his son — Hussein Faysal Ali Warabe — was killed in an airstrike.
Hussein, also known as Abu Shuaib As-Somali, joined the militant group in 2013, along with his wife.
"We learned the news of his death yesterday [Saturday]," Warabe told VOA Somali. "His wife sent a recorded message via WhatsApp saying he was killed on Dec. 29."
Warabe did not say where son was killed but says his family assumed he had left Raqqa safely. IS was pushed out of its former capital of Raqqa last year.
"There was no fighting in the area he was staying, so it will have been an airstrike that killed him," he said.
Asked how his son arrived in Syria, Warabe said he had traveled there from Finland where he was a citizen. But it was in Somaliland where he first tried to travel to Syria in 2013. Warabe said Hussein also tried to travel to Yemen the same year but was stopped by Somaliland authorities because his passport was nearing expiration.
"He tried to travel to Garowe [Puntland] to obtain a Somali passport, which he could use to get a visa from Ethiopia. But he was intercepted in Las Anod," Warabe said. "We deported him to Finland. We told them [Finnish authorities] not to renew his passport. We told them he was a travel risk. But they said he didn't commit any crime, so he got a passport. And three months later, he traveled to Syria via Turkey."
Warabe said his son was planning to leave Syria with his wife and two children after realizing that joining IS was a "mistake."
"We were expecting him to come our way. He spoke to his mum and siblings on Dec. 24. We were expecting him to contact us from Turkey," he said.
Warabe said the family contacted the Finnish embassy in Turkey about their son's intentions to leave Syria. Finnish authorities could not be reached for comment.
Over the years, a number of Somali jihadists have joined IS, but nearly all of them traveled from western countries, including the United States, Canada and Europe.