MOGADISHU, Aug 9 – A Somali journalist accused of killing colleagues and working for the Al-Qaeda linked Shebab has been arrested in Kenya and will be extradited to Mogadishu, Somalia’s information minister said Saturday.
A series of journalists have been killed in recent years in Somalia, one of the most dangerous countries in the world to work as a reporter.
“As a result of surveillance by the Somali security apparatus, the Kenyan security forces captured Hassan Hanafi Haji, wanted for the killing of a number of Somali journalists and other citizens,” Somalia’s Minister of Information Mustafa Duhulow said in a statement.
“It is also alleged that he was also deeply involved in Al-Shebab’s propaganda machine,” Duhulow added, claiming Hanafi was a “senior” member of the Islamist group.
Somalia has requested Kenya hand Hanafi over to face trial, Duhulow said.
Hanafi was reportedly arrested in the Kenyan capital Nairobi this week after travelling there for medical treatment, security sources said.
However, Kenyan police officials have declined to comment on the arrest.
The Shebab continue to launch attacks in the heart of the capital Mogadishu — including recent brazen commando raids on the presidential palace and parliament — in a bid to topple the internationally-backed government.
“The military court is pursuing Hassan Hanafi in relation to complaints from the relatives of those he is alleged to have killed, including prominent journalists and other people,” Duhulow added.
“It is alleged that Hassan Hanafi terrorised media owners, editors and journalists, forcing them to tell lies and propagate Al-Shebab propaganda.”
The Shebab operate their own radio station and regularly release propaganda videos, and were previously active on Twitter before their accounts were shut down.