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Why Kenyan Al-Shabaab leader wants to defect from terror group

A leaked classified document from security agencies has revealed that a Kenyan Al-Shabaab leader, Ahmed Iman Ali aka Abu Zinira, and his five senior fighters, are contemplating defection from the terror group.

The twenty-one page dossier says the six plan to leave the group for fear of execution after being disgruntled, a move that could have consequences on Al-Shabaab’s influence and operations in the region.

According to the document, Mr Iman, whose command of religious and secular education, oratory skills, as well as charisma has endeared him to many foreign fighters, had hatched a plan to establish his own local Jihadi group within Boni Forest, Lamu county, riding on Al-Shabaab’s resources.

The group, which was to later detach from the mainstream Al-Shabaab organization, sought to penetrate the country and spread its influence in North Eastern and Coastal parts of Kenya.

DEFECTION

However, since Al-Shabaab leadership would not trust a foreigner to lead such a major unit, the leadership, then under Mr Ahmed Abdi Godane, nominated a Somali, Mr Maalim Ayman, to lead the Jihadi group which was then christened Jaysh Ayman.

“Iman felt betrayed and sent an advance team of his close cronies to Kenya to lay ground for his defection among them, Rashid Mohamed Bwajuma and Mohamed Khalid aka Cortez,” says the document.

It adds: “In the meantime, Mr Muhamed Mutevi aka Musa Bamee, a close associate of Iman, would reportedly coordinate with Kenyan government officials over the planned defection of Iman. Musa was among the co-founders of Muslim Youth Center in Majengo, Nairobi.

Mr Muhamed, the document notes, had in 2016 been arrested after threatening to assassinate a member of the ward peace committee and Nyumba Kumi in Kamukunji. He was released for lack of evidence.

The dossier also claims that the defection of Mr Mukhtar Robow, one of the Jihadi icons and mentor of Mr Iman, in mid-August, 2017, also contributed to his planned defection.

TERRORISM

Mr Robow, one of the co-founders of Al-Shabaab and at one time the deputy Emir, received specialized training in Afghanistan from Al-Qaeda and has travelled widely in the arenas of terrorism where he has gathered enormous experience.

“He also once served as an Al-Shabaab spokesman, military commander and spiritual leader. His recent defection from Al-Shabaab due to ideological differences and misinterpretation of religious texts by the group has been seen as one of the motivating factors of Iman’s planned defection,” the document notes.

The report also explains that Mr Iman’s defection has been compounded by the mistreatment of his Kenyan followers in Somalia as some of his close supporters who followed him to Somalia have since been executed by Al-Shabaab on allegations of being government spies.

According to the report, some of his loyal followers likely to accompany him in his defection include: Juma Ayub Otit Were aka KB, Erick Achayo Ogada aka Nabhan, Ramadhan Kioko aka Pinji aka Abu Nuseiba, Suleiman Irungu Mwangi aka Karongo aka Maalim Zakariya aka Idriss and Mohamed Tajir Ali aka Wahom very entrepreneur learns at some point that you don’t know what you don’t know.