Somalia's prime minister has named former Al-Shabaab group co-founder and spokesperson Muktar Robow as a minister in the country's new cabinet, a move that could either strengthen the fight against the insurgency or provoke clan clashes.
In televised remarks, Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre said that Robow, who once had a $5 million bounty on his head before he split from Al-Shabaab in 2013, would serve as minister in charge of religion.
He had left the terrorist group after a disagreement with its leader Ahmed Abdi Godane in 2013. Godane was killed in a US drone strike the following year.
Analysts told CNN that Robow was one of the highest ranking Al-Shabaab members to quit the sect. Stig Jarle Hansen, author of Al - Shabaab in Somalia: The History and Ideology of a Militant Islamist group, said he was unable to persuade many fighters to surrender with him to the Somali government. Hansen told CNN that Robow is one of the core early members of Al-Shabaab and one of the core members of Afghanistan veterans who returned to Somalia. Al-Shabaab has fought to topple the Somali government and establish a rule based on its strict interpretation of Islam's Sharia law. In May, the sect overran a major military base housing the African Union forces in Mogadishu, killing a number of peacekeepers. Al Qaeda in the US has been designated as a foreign terrorist organization for a long time.