Captured Somali 'al-Shabaab chief' suspected of being American

Captured Somali 'al-Shabaab chief' suspected of being American
A man arrested for possessing bomb-making materials in the Puntland region of Somalia, recently travelled to the US and is suspected of holding an American passport.
2 min read
27 July, 2017
The raid was carried out by Puntland and Galmudug security forces [AFP]
A leading member of an al-Qaeda-linked militia group has been detained in Somalia during a daring military raid on an al-Shabaab outpost in Puntland coordinated by Somali forces and Washington.

The suspect had recently travelled to the US and could be an American citizen, reports have claimed.

Abdirazaq Husain Tahliil - also known as Ina Alool Geel - is currently being held by Somali authorities after he was detained along with four others in Galkayo City on Tuesday.

US authorities said a "known al-Shabaab facilitator and suspected lawful resident of the US was captured by the Somali National Security Forces".

Tahliil's nationality has not been confirmed, as one US defence official told CNN he had travelled to the US recently while another denied the claim over Tahliil's nationality.

Puntland and Galmudug security forces reportedly carried out the attack on a building connected to the armed Islamist rebel group and made five arrests.

Tahliil had previously been arrested and sentenced to death in 2014 for the possession of bomb-making materials, Garowe News reported.

He was later released in January 2014 by the new president of the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, Abdiweli Mohammed Ali, in a prisoner-exchange with al-Shabaab.

There has been an increase in US military engagement in Somalia since the Trump administration took power in January.

"US forces are assisting partner forces to counter al-Shabaab in Somalia to degrade the al-Qaeda affiliate's ability to recruit, train and plot external terror attacks throughout the region and in America," US Africa Command said.

Dozens of US troops from the 101st Airborne Division arrived in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia on 2 April to help in the fight against al-Shabaab.

Al-Shabaab is linked to al-Qaeda and have fought to overthrow Somalia's UN-backed government in order to install a government with a strict, jihadi interpretation of Islam.