Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Fighting and dining with the enemy.

By Guled Mohamed

February 22 – Mohamed Ibrahim rose from an ordinary Al-Shabab fighter to a field commander within 2 years which saw him spend days and nights in the jungles and abandoned buildings across Somalia fighting, living and dining alongside wanted foreign terrorists including two of the current Al-Qaeda chiefs in Somalia.

Mohamed who goes around by his nickname Suley meaning missing a thumb in Somali because he burnt one of his thumbs learning to plant remote controlled roadside bombs in Mogadishu says he has been living and fighting along the likes of Abu Mansuur Al-Amriki better known as Omar Hammami from the US town of Daphne in Alabama who is the Deputy Al-Qaeda commander in Somalia and Fadhil Mohamed Abdallah, the top man for the global jihadists in Somalia who hails from Comoros.

During his four years stint as an Al-Shabab fighter which he recently decamped after being shot from close range by a foreign Arab fighter in one of the many frontlines in Somalia for questioning a gruesome murder of his elder civilian brother in Kismayu whose throat was slit by an Al-Shabab hit squad on suspicion of spying for his clansmen fighting to oust the extremists from the southern Somali port city of Kismayu.

In the recent past, he says the going has been tough for the revered group with imminent fallout within its top leadership over their cruelty towards civilian populations. The group has made a name out of chopping off limbs of suspect thugs and assassinations of innocent people who refuse to join them as well as other more callous acts like slitting throats of suspected spies.

Receiving a paltry $60 per month as salary with 10 days of leave every month, Ibrahim gave a chilling account of his association with a group he now believes have nothing to do with Islam.

“I was a field commander in charge of 90 young men in Bondere frontline. My men included Somalis, young Kenyan non-Somalis and Eritrean. Al-Amriki, the American Al-Qaeda 2nd in Command in Somalia is always in the frontline visiting Al-Shabaab fighters. I have fought and dined and spend days and nights with him together with so many other foreign fighters. The top commander Fadhil from Comoros never visits the frontlines. He lives in the livestock market in Mogadishu and I have also seen him so many times,” Ibrahim said.

He survived death by a whisker from the close range bullet intended to permanently silence him for voicing a concern over his brother’s death. That is when he realized he was along fighting and dining with the enemy.

“The bullet pierced through my left bicep travelling just under the skin across my back before popping out from the right shoulder. When they slit my brother’s throat and nearly killed me in cold blood I realized I was in the wrong place and planned my escape. All this time I was dining and fighting with an enemy I never knew. Since my escape I have helped 20 fighters decamp from Al-Shabaab and I hope to help many more because the heaven they promise people is a lie. There is no jihad in Somalia, it is a fallacy” Mohamed said pointing at the healed bullet wound on his back.

He secretly hatched an escape plan together with four of his colleagues. On December 16 their plot succeeded when they finally defected to the government after the President and the Prime Minister gave a 100 day amnesty to Al-Shabaab fighters who would switch sides.

“I planned my escape for 4 months. It was very difficult because I knew as soon as Al-Shabaab finds out I was a dead man. It was 4 months of fear. I am lucky my status as a field commander helped me to easily escape. The atrocities I have witnessed in my 4 years with Al-Shabaab are so gruesome giving me all the reason to leave,” he added.

And to make things even easier for his final escape, he saw first hand how wounded accomplices were dealt with by foreign fighters who call the shots within Al-Shabaab.

“Al-Shabaab has become so ruthless that it even kills its soldiers who are seriously wounded in the many battles in Mogadishu. They shoot them because they have no enough hospitals or money to treat them. What pains me most is seeing very young boys brainwashed to fight and then abandoned or killed when they are seriously hurt. Joining Al-Shabaab is easy but getting out is impossible. I thank God I left and will never ever take part in any of their un-Islamic activities again,” He said looking relaxed.