The Saudi-led Arab alliance blacklisted as a terrorist a former Al Shabaab commander with links to Qatar, accusing him of setting up training camps in northeastern Somalia, Garowe Online reports.
The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain extended their terror lists on Thursday, Nov 23, 2017, adding and 11, individuals, including Mohamed Saeed Atam and two organizations they accused of being directly funded by Qatar.
The two organizations – The International Islamic Council “Massaa'” and World Union of Muslim Scholars were found of promoting terrorism under the cover of Islam to facilitate different terrorist activities, the Arab quartet said.
Atam, who was a former Al Shabaab commander in Somalia’s northeastern semi-autonomous state of Puntland has been added to a new list of Qatar linked terrorists, using Qatari passports and direct funds from Doha.
He was the founder of Al Shabaab-affiliated branch in Galgala hills and staged years-long insurgency against Puntland state. Atam was responsible for various attacks against region’s security forces and assassinations in Bosaso.
Al Shabaab has dismissed the commander and replaced him with a new leader in charge of its operations in Galgala 2014. The move has forced Atam to flee to southern Somalia and joined a group led by Hassan Dahir Aweys.
The extremist has finally defected from his terror group following a fallout with slain leader Ahmed Godane over leadership row and surrendered himself to former Somali Federal Government led by Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.
Mohamud has sought an asylum for Atam from Qatar and flown to Doha in February 2016, where he is currently living, evading justice for the atrocity he has committed against the people of Somalia.
Pundits believe that Qatar’s asylum for Atam shows that Doha funding extremist groups in Somalia, especially Al Qaeda’s affiliate Al Shabaab and defunct Islamic Union Courts.
On June 5, 2017, the Saudi-led block cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and cut off air, sea and land access to the country over Doha’s support for “terrorist groups”, an accusation that Doha has strongly denied.