Large numbers of youth who had been radicalized and tricked into joining the al shabaab terror group in Somalia are now returning to their families in droves. Poor living conditions, general loss of morale among the members, fear from the increased bombardment by the Somali National Army and lack of remuneration are the main reasons attributed to the members fleeing the blood-sucking group.
The youth are often attracted by the group’s false propaganda of social inclusion and the general low quality of life they are living prior to joining the group.To their surprise, they find themselves living in worse conditions than they had fled from when they joined the terror group.
“I know we are poor back home, but it is better to return, or die than live in those conditions. At home, I had never stayed for three days without food or a week without showering, but that it was something normal for the militants,” Omar said. None of the returnees have any financial or material gain to show for their time with the terrorists, contrary to the promises they were given. Their hope for financial benefit was severely dampened by measly earnings. Others join to fight for a cause they thought is just and obligatory propagated falsely by the terrorist group.
Rama, a former member who joined the group for a cause he was radicalized into, laments that there is no Jihad al Shabaab is fighting for. “I know I did everything to escape and come back home, but I’m afraid to face my mum. How do I tell her I killed other people’s mothers? She would never forgive me,” Rama said.He is desperate for his mother’s forgiveness. He heard she has been unwell since he left.
Al-Shabaab supports a policy of looting and pillaging the local population in the environment they live in. The proceeds are a reserve for leaders and leftovers are given to the fighters. In addition to the poor living conditions, the continued aerial bombardment on the terrorists by the Somali National Army and its international allies is an added strain to the fighters to return. They are undergoing rehabilitation, psychological support and security debrief at a secluded area before re-integration back into the society. Many have surrendered to the Somali government, including top leaders, after the Somali Government extended an amnesty to those who surrender to it.