American Citizen Defects From Al-Shabaab Militia in Somalia

An unidentified American citizen defected from the Islamic militant group al-Shabaab and surrendered to Somali authorities following clashes between the pro-Islamic State fighters and the al-Qaeda linked al-Shabaab.

“He told us that he had feared for his life as he was being chased by a hit squad from the al-Qaeda linked group of al-Shabaab,” Hussein Mohamed Barre, mayor of the port town of Barawe, said by phone late Monday. “He is white and emaciated because of the ordeal he undergone.”

A senior leader of al-Shabaab in Somalia, Abdirahman Sandhere, also known as Ukash, was killed in a U.S. airstrike on Dec. 2, along with two of his associates. The attacks are part of a broader campaign by the Somali government and African Union forces to end the insurgents’ nine-year bid to establish Islamic law in the nation.

Al-Shabaab fighters have killed several pro-Islamic State foreign troops after deadly feuds in parts of southern Somalia in the recent past, Barre said, citing the defector. According to Barre, friction within the group’s ranks increased after some fighters pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, leading to bloody confrontations.

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