Former Al-Shabaab ally & Puntland militant leader surrenders to Somali government
Mogadishu (Harar24) – In an unexpected move, Sheikh Mohamed Sa’id Atam, a former Al-Shabaab ally and ex-leader of Puntland based militants, defected and surrendered himself to the Somali government yesterday.
Sheikh Mohamed Sa’id Atam appeared at a conference yesterday held at the ministry of information, alongside the minister of information Mustufa Dhuhulow, where he declared his disassociation with the militant group Al-Shabaab, which he accused of committing many crimes.
At the conference Atam stated that one of the main reasons he left the group was due to the leaders of Al-Shabaab confining the jihad to themselves while disarming others besides them and dispersing them. “Jihad is for Allah, and it’s something required of all Muslims. Al-Shabaab’s leader, Ahmed Abdi Godane claims that the jihad is something that belongs to him, therefore he disarms anyone else” Atam said.
Upon being asked if he would seek forgiveness from the Somali public because of Al-Shabaab’s actions, he replied: “I was never Al-Shabaab, I was an associate and never held any position within Al-Shabaab. However if in one way or the other something happened because of my actions then I request everybody to forgive me”. He also added that during his time of militancy in Puntland he never committed any crimes as he was fighting for his people against the injustices of the then president Abdirahman Farole.
The minister of information, Mustafa Dhuholow, commended the step taken by Sheikh Atam and his abandoning of Al-Shabaab and called it a “brave step”. He further added that any members of Al-Shabaab who wish to take similar actions would be welcomed and guaranteed safety.
Sheikh Mohamed Sa’id Atam was a known militant leader in the Galgala mountains in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland. The militants waged a deadly insurgency until they merged with the Al-Shabaab movement in 2012, where the leadership was taken from Atam and handed to Yasin Kilwe, a much feared militant with a current bounty of $3 million and is said to be close to Al-Shabaab’s leader Ahmed Godane.