"After witnessing the dilemma we were facing at the hands of the extremists, I found it necessary to convince my three brothers and three cousins to flee with me," said the commander.
The commander, who asked to be called Ahmed Mohamed Ahmed for security reasons, said he began his duties in Baidoa, later relocated to Mogadishu and finally shifted to Luuq region in the Southern region of Somalia.
"We had to flee all the way to Gedo and hide for three days from al-Shabaab so that we could finally create an escape plan. Finally we made our move when the chance was best and the TFG forces welcomed us," explained Commander Ahmed.
The commander said that they managed to bring with them more than one thousand rounds of ammunition, seven AK 47 rifles, and three hand grenades that were meant to attack a TFG defense post in the Luuq region of Somalia.
"Al-Shabaab leaders told us that if we opt to join the TFG side then we risk being killed. They also told us that the TFG forces do not condone former al-Shabaab militia fighters and there was possibility of us being executed by their military court martial, but we have seen and confirmed all this is false," Ahmed told our correspondent.
Now it is the desire of Ahmed to fight al-Shabaab tooth and nail as a member of the TFG forces. He also wishes for a stable life for himself and his brothers who he is planning on sending to South Africa for education.
Al-Shabaab Short on Funds
Upon inquiry on the current state of al-Shabaab after the latest successful joint TFG and AMISOM offensives, Ahmed was quick to respond that the the insurgents are now short of funds and equipment after most of their financiers pulled out after serious disagreements with the top leadership over their strategic plan as well as their harsh form of punishments to the wrongdoers.
Students Forced to Fight
Meanwhile, al-Shabaab continued its forced recruitment campaign of Somalia's youth. The militants today prohibited teachers from handing out certificates for high school graduates in Jowhar town of Middle Shabelle region.
School principals were ordered to call students who are on break back to school so that al-Shabaab could focus their recruitment drive those high school graduates waiting for the results of their graduation exams and certificates.
“They told us call the students back to school by saying that they will be informed of some important issues, but we are not able,” a school principal told Local Radio in anonymity for safety.
Al-Shabaab administrators in Jowhar informed the principals that any student who defied the order will not be given the graduation certificate.
“Al-Shabaab is recruiting the students by force and many of the high school graduates fled from the town to the neighboring countries or the government-held positions,” the principal.
Hassan Shire, a TFG General in southern Somalia, confirmed that al-Shabaab defectors are treated well, particularly youth, and called on more students to join the TFG.
"We welcome the youth with hands wide open," General Shire told Local Radio .
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