Somalia welcomes US decision to remove former al-Shabaab Intelligence Chief from terror list

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Somalia’s Federal government has welcomed a US decision to remove a former senior al-Shabaab official from the terror blacklist.

Zakaria Ismail Ahmed Hersi was one of seven top al-Shabaab officials whom the Obama administration offered a total $33 million in rewards for information leading to their capture in 2012.

Hersi, who surrendered to the government the end of last year after escaping from al-Shabaab hideouts, had a $3 million US bounty on his head.

The move to remove the former militant from the terror list came after negotiations between the US and Somali government officials, according to a Press statement from the office of Somali President.

‘’This follows negotiations between the Somali and the US governments to establish clearly and beyond doubt that Zaki has renounced violence, rejected the terror group, al-Shabaab, and has fully embraced the peace process – conditions which have been irrefutably established and which have been unequivocally proven to the people of Somalia through Zaki’s statements to the media,’’ the statement read.

The US government has not confirmed on the decision revealed by the Somali government.

Since al-Shabaab lost large territories it once controlled in Southern Somalia to the Somali government and African Union forces, its members including senior officials have continuously surrendered.

However, the Federal government renewed again an offer of amnesty to the members of the group and stressed to ensure their safety, citing the case of Zakariye Hersi.

‘’The Federal Government confirms it will support defecting leaders or militants in the transition back into Somali society and, where necessary, will advocate upon their behalf, as was the case with Zaki and also with Sheikh Atom. Reach out by any means and you will find a willing ear and a helping hand.’’

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