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Ex-Al Shabaab fighter linked to Westgate attack gets cabinet job in Somalia

A former Al Shabaab fighter, who was part of the group’s top leadership when the Westgate Mall in Nairobi was attacked in September 2013, has been appointed to Somalia’s new cabinet.

Mukhtar Robow Ali, also known as Abu Mansoor, who served as the deputy head of the Al-Qaeda affiliated group, has been appointed Minister for Religion by Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre.

“After much deliberation with the president and the public, I have named cabinet ministers who have education and experience and they will fulfill their duties. I ask the parliament to approve the cabinet appointees,” the Prime Minister said after he announced the cabinet appointees.

It is worth noting that the US once placed a Sh60 million bounty on Robow’s head but this was withdrawn just days after the Westgate attack of September 21, 2013 when it emerged that he had fallen out with the militant group leader Abdi Godane.

At the time, Robow was Al Shabaab’s longest serving spokesperson. Mr Godane died in September 2014 in a US drone attack.

In 2017, after years of hiding from both Al Shabaab and the Somalia government for fear of being arrested, Robow came out and was praised by the Somalia government at large.

A year later, Robow announced that he was running for a political seat and introduced his campaign slogan as “Security and Justice,” leading to his arrest. The Somalia government has never given a reason as to why they detained Robow.