News by email Donate

Suggestions

Top Stories

Most Read

Popular Videos

Mukhtar Robow.JPG
REUTERS/Feisal Omar
Mukhtar Robow.JPG
REUTERS/Feisal Omar
World News

Somalia appoints co-founder of al Shabaab terrorist group as religion minister

by Reuters Journalist

Somali Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre has named a co-founder and spokesman of the Islamist al Shabaab as minister for religious affairs, a move that could either help strengthen the fight against the insurgents or provoke further clan clashes.

Mukhtar Robow had a  £4.1m ($5m) US bounty on his head after he co-founded al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab and served as the group's spokesman.

Al Shabaab insurgents have killed tens of thousands of people in bombings in their fight to overthrow Somalia's Western-backed central government and implement its interpretation of Islamic law.

Robow split from the group in 2013 and publicly denounced al Shabaab when he came to the government side in 2017.

But the relationship soured after he grew too politically powerful. Somalia's previous government arrested Robow in December 2018 as he campaigned for the regional presidency of southwest state.

Security forces shot dead at least 11 people in the protests that followed, sparking criticism from the United Nations.

Robow's new job sparked a flurry of hashtags on twitter crowing he had made it #FromPrisonertoMinister. He had been held under house arrest until recently.

According to persecution watchdog Open Doors, violent attacks by Islamic militants, targeting Christians, remain common in Somalia and have been for more than 25 years. Groups like al-Shabaab operate with seemingly little pushback and control large parts of Somali territory, and they consider Christians ‘high-value’ targets for killing. The small number of believers in Somalia are largely Christians who have converted from Islam. 

Robow's appointment could help strengthen government forces in his native Bakool region, where insurgents hold substantial amounts of territory but where Robow also commands support. Or it could fan flames with the region's president, who sees him as a political rival.

"We welcome his appointment. The move will advance reconciliation and will serve as a good example for more high level al-Shabab defections," said political analyst Mohamed Mohamud.

"Al Shabaab members who might be thinking of surrendering ... can dream of serving their country at the highest levels."

New President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, elected by lawmakers in May, has promised to take the fight to the insurgents after three years in which his predecessor, consumed by political infighting, took little action against al Shabaab.

That allowed the insurgents to build up substantial reserves of cash and carry out attacks over a wide swathe of Somalia. Last week scores of al Shabaab fighters and Ethiopian security forces were killed in clashes along the two nations' shared border.

Additional reporting by Tola Mbakwe

Continue the conversation on our Facebook page

A Monthly Gift Of $11 Makes A World Of Difference

In a world of fake news there’s never been a greater need for quality Christian journalism. Premier’s mission is to provide the Church with the most up to date and relevant news, told from a Christian perspective. But we can’t do it without you.

Unlike many websites we haven't put up a paywall — we want to keep our journalism free at the point of need and as open as we can. Premier’s news output takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. No one in the USA is sharing news like we are across radio, magazines and online so please help us to continue that today.

For a monthly gift of $11 or more we’d also be able to send you a free copy of the brand new Premier Bible, a wonderful Anglicised version of the NLT packed with exclusive bonus content, reading plan and resources to help you get the most out of scripture.

Your monthly support will make a world of difference. Thank you.

Support Us

Related Articles

Sign up to our newsletter to stay informed with news from a Christian perspective.

News by email

Connect

Donate

Donate