The Shadowy Center Helping Former al-Shabab Members Quit

Al-Shabab fighters near Mogadishu, February 17, 2011. (AP Photo)
Al-Shabab fighters near Mogadishu, February 17, 2011. (AP Photo)
Al-Shabab fighters near Mogadishu, February 17, 2011. (AP Photo)

(BBC) – In a small, heavily guarded compound on the bullet-riddled outskirts of Baidoa, a secretive team is working to undermine Somalia’s Islamist militant group, al-Shabab, from the inside.

“We can’t just solve this militarily,” said Aden Mohamed Hussein, ushering me past the soldiers at the gate.

“So far so good… We hope for a domino effect.”

Mr Hussein runs a new “disengagement” programme for surrendering al-Shabab members at the camp here in Baidoa, an hour’s helicopter ride northwest of the capital Mogadishu, towards the Ethiopian border.

Al-Shabab no longer controls the town or, we’re assured, the surrounding countryside. But attacks are still frequent and our time inside the compound is strictly limited.

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