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Ex-Shabab deputy leader may run for South West Presidency

A former rebel commander and spokesman with the Al-Qaeda affiliated militant insurgency group Al-Shabaab plans to run as a candidate in regional elections in Somalia, HOL has learned.

A former rebel commander and spokesman with the Al-Qaeda affiliated militant insurgency group Al-Shabaab plans to run as a candidate in regional elections in Somalia, HOL has learned.

Sheikh Mukhtar Robow – known in the battlefield as Abu-Mansur was one of the founding fathers of Al-Shabaab who served as the group’s deputy commander – is expected to run for president in the upcoming elections in South West State of Somalia.

The shadowy former militant strongman’s campaign slogan will be “We know him but you don’t.” 

Robow left Al-Shabaab last year after a difference in strategy and tactics lead to his rogue camp to be pinned down by the militants outside his stronghold in Hudur, Bakool. The former rebel commander was allegedly demanded by Al-Shabaab to rejoin their group or face their wrath but rejected the ultimatum. Robow successfully negotiated his surrender to government forces and was airlifted to Mogadishu.

He was soon paraded by Somalia’s federal government in front of journalists with the Somali flag displayed prominently in the backdrop. Mukhtar Robow publicly denounced Al-Shabaab for their beliefs, saying that it was contrary to Islamic principles and hurt the country and its people.

Reading from a prepared statement, the former spokesperson of Al-Shabaab officially announced that he left the militant group and that they do not share the same ideology.

“I would like to state to the Somali people and the international community that I quit al-Shabab five years and seven months ago and that I’m not a member of the group,” he said.

“I left al Shabaab because of misunderstanding, and I disagreed with their beliefs which do not serve Islamic religion, Somalia, and its citizens”.

Robow also urged fighters within Al-Shabaab ranks to defect to the government.

Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansur prepares to address the media at the Royal Palace Hotel in Mogadishu following his defection from Al-Shabaab. Tuesday, August 15, 2017

One of the original founders of Al-Shabaab, Sheikh Mukhtar Robow diverged with the late emir Ahmed Abdi Godane (Mukhtar Abu Zubair) over the use of foreign fighters. The ensuing row split Al-Shabaab into two factions and eventually led to the death of American fighter Omar Hammami and the defection of Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys. Mukhtar Robow is the last “founding fathers” of Al-Shabaab.

For his role in the Al-Qaeda affiliated group, Abu Mansour was designated a  Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) and had a USD $5 million bounty placed on him by the U.S. Treasury Department for information leading to his location in June 2012. Following his defection and after consultation with the Somali government, he was removed from the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC.

Although Mukhtar Robow has yet to publicly declare his candidacy, he is said to have attended a meeting with Somalia’s Parliamentary Speaker, Mohamed Mursal Sheikh and with the other candidates vying for the presidency in the South West State of Somalia.

Robow was born on 10 October 1969 in Hudur, in the Bakool region in southern Somalia. He studied at a local Quranic school and later continued his religious education in the mosques of Mogadishu. He also studied Islamic law in the 1990s at the University of Khartoum in Sudan.

The Presidential elections for South West state are scheduled for November 17 this year. Several candidates are looking to unseat Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan who was elected in 2014.

The former Al-Shabaab spokesman and deputy commander hopes to win over voters in Somalia’s South West State in upcoming elections with the campaign slogan “We know him but you don’t”. SUPPLIED

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