MOGADISHU, Somalia – A leader with the Islamic extremist group al-Shabab with a $3 million bounty on his head has announced he has quit the insurgency and renounced violence perpetrated by the al-Qaida-linked group.
Zakariya Ismail Hersi, who was al-Shabab's intelligence chief, called for reconciliation Tuesday while speaking to the media for the first time since his surrender last year. Hersi surrendered to Somali authorities late December.
Some analysts say Hersi defected fearing for his life due to friction with colleagues loyal to Ahmed Godane, the al-Shabab leader who was killed in a U.S. air strike last year.
Hersi was one of seven top al-Shabab officials the Obama administration offered in 2012 a total reward of $33 million for information leading to their capture. It's not clear who gets the bounty.