Somalia government welcomes removal of former Al-shabaab intel from US wanted lis

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Former Al-Shabab intelligence chief Zakaria Ismail

The US government has removed the former Al-Shabab intelligence chief from wanted list two months after he surrendered to Somali government, officials said.

Zakaria Ismail who had a $3 million bounty issued by the justice department on his head was de-listed on Sunday, Somali government confirmed.

Mr. Ismail, who run the Al-Qaeda linked group’s intelligence arm was considered to be an influential leader in the group before he surrendered to the government late December. Somali government hailed the development which it said it follows following negotiations with the US governments to convince the United
States that he has renounced violence, rejected the terror group al-Shabaab.

“The Federal government is grateful to the US Government and Somalia’s other foreign allies for their continued cooperation in the fight against al-Shabaab and in rebuilding Somalia.” Somali government said
in a statement issued on Sunday.

In the statement, the government called for more defections by the group’s fighters who carried out multiple deadly attacks in the Horn of Africa nation.

“The Federal Government reiterates its message to those still trapped inside al-Shabaab, whether leader or foot soldier: if you are willing to embrace the path of peace, abandon violence as a means of conflict
resolution, and turn your back on the extremist doctrine of al-Shabaab then there you will be welcomed to rejoin Somali society and play your part in rebuilding the nation.” The statement added.

Security analysts say his defection would contribute to the group’s eroding power thanks to the African Union and Somali troops who ousted the group from large swathes in Somalia, however, the group still controls towns and villages in Somalia.

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