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Somalia is tapping former Al-Shabaab leader to head its anti-terror ministry

From jail to house arrest. Then to cabinet.
Feisal Omar
From jail to house arrest. Then to cabinet. 

Somalia’s newly elected prime minister Hamza Barre believes the appointment of former Al-Shabaab commander Mukhtar Robow also known as Abu Mansur will help him constitute “an inclusive government.”

In what could reverse gains the country has made towards countering insecurity, Barre is confident that appointing Robow as the minister for endowment, religious affairs and counter-terrorism ideology, will help the government prevent the youth from joining Al-Shabaab.

“I am looking forward to parliament endorsing my lineup,” he said on Aug. 2 after announcing that his selection criteria for the 26 ministers was based on integrity and capacity to effective service delivery.

Robow’s Al-Shabaab history

Robow was placed under house arrest in 2019 and was barred from vying for public office, with the country’s National Intelligence and Security Agency demanding that he meets all the conditions set for defectors from the militia group.

He defected from Al-Shabaab in 2013 following a bitter fall-out with its leader and in 2018, he surrendered to the government after Al-Shabaab attacked his base in Abal.

“Once an Al Shabaab always one. Next time you will hear he is free organising terror activities secretly,” one Twitter user said when Robow announced to run for the presidency of the south west state.

In 2012, Robow had a $5 million US bounty on his head and he boasted about how privileged he was to shake hands with slain Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden during his militant training in Afghanistan, after which he became the spokesperson of Al-Shabaab and later its deputy leader.

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