The radical commander defected from the terror group in June 2014 after the Federal government of Somalia offered amnesty to the al-Shabaab insurgents. The United Nations also removed him out of the Sanctions list after the Somali government had lobbied the UN to take out repenting individuals like Atom from sanction lists. Over the past few hours, news of Qatar granting him asylum emerged after a Somali television network broadcasted an interview with the ex-rebel commander before moving to Doha last month.
In the interview, Mr Atom strongly denied that he had committed any war crimes but also requested Somalis to ‘forgive’ him.
‘’Am not a criminal who was arrested, I surrendered through peaceful negotiations.’’
Mohamed Said Atom, who was also a powerful arms dealer, accused al-Shabaab of being influenced by foreign agenda and deliberately killed Somali Muslims, distorted jihad, and denied humanitarian aid to the Somali people.
Atom was the commander of al-Shabaab militia hiding out in Galgala mountain ranges in Northern Somalia. In 2010, he waged guerilla warfare against Puntland forces and over the years his militia was accused of being involved in atrocities such as displacement and killing of unarmed civilians.