U.S. urges Somalia to create pathways for Al-Shabaab defections

MOGADISHU, Aug. 17 — The United States on Wednesday called on the
Somali government to facilitate ways in which fighters of Islamist militant
group Al-Shabaab can reject terrorism and join efforts in reconstruction of
the country.

The U.S. embassy in Somalia also lauded the efforts of the government to
facilitate the defections of former and current Al-Shabaab members. “The
U.S. encourages the Somali government to continue to create pathways for
Al-Shabaab members to reject terrorism and join efforts to build a peaceful
and prosperous country for all Somalis,” the embassy said in a statement
issued in Mogadishu. The statement comes after former deputy leader of the
militant group Al-Shabaab Mukhtar Robow surrendered to the government on
Sunday. Robow, also known as Abu Mansur, officially announced Tuesday that
he left Al-Shabaab more than five years ago. “I fell out with the group
over ideological differences five years and seven months ago. I was living
in the Bakol region and Al-Shabab attacked me there. They tried to kill me,
but I defended myself,” Robow told journalists in Mogadishu on Tuesday.

Robow, who co-founded Al-Shabaab leader who once had a 5 million U.S.
dollar bounty on his head had been on the run from his former fellow
militants, and set up a base in his hometown Abal area, in southwest
Somalia. The United States said it supports a Somali-led process of
degrading Al-Shabaab’s influence using a comprehensive approach, including
through high-level defections, reconciliation, and improved governance and
service delivery. Meanwhile, U.S.-based human rights group has urged the
Somali government to investigate alleged human rights abuses by Robow. The
Human Rights Watch said the Somali government needs to investigate Robow’s
role and ensure that those responsible for the worst abuses are not able to
escape just punishment.”International law prohibits amnesties for those
responsible for grave abuses. Mukhtar Robow had a leadership role in
Al-Shabaab at a time when we documented indiscriminate attacks on
civilians, forced recruitment of children and other abuses against
residents under the group’s control,” HRW said.- XINHUA