A leader with the Islamic extremist group al-Shabaab, who had a $3m bounty on his head, surrendered in Somalia, a Somali intelligence official said on Saturday.
Zakariya Ismail Ahmed Hersi surrendered to Somali police in the Gedo region, said the intelligence officer, who insisted on anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the press.
Hersi may have surrendered because he fell out with those loyal to Ahmed Abdi Godane, al-Shabaab’s top leader who was killed in a US airstrike earlier this year, the officer said.
Hersi was one of eight top al-Shabaab officials whom the Obama administration offered a total $33m in rewards for information leading to their capture in 2012.
Despite suffering major losses such as losing major cities, al-Shabaab remains a threat in Somalia and the East African region. The group has carried out many terror attacks in Somalia and some in neighbouring countries including Kenya, whose armies are part of the African Union troops bolstering Somalia’s weak UN- backed government.
On Christmas day, al-Shabaab launched an attack at the African Union base in Mogadishu. Nine people died, including three African Union soldiers, in the attack on the complex, which also houses UN offices and western embassies. Al-Shabaab said the attack was aimed at a Christmas party and was in retaliation for the killing of the group’s leader Godane.
Al-Shabaab also claimed that 14 soldiers were killed, but the group often exaggerates the number of people it kills.
Al-Shabaab is waging an Islamic insurgency against Somalia’s government that is attempting to rebuild the country after decades of conflict that was sparked off by the 1991 ouster of dictator Siad Barre.