Abdullahi Nadir, a co-founder and senior al-Shabab member, was slain on Saturday in the southern Middle Jubba district, according to the Somali authorities.

Why this matter
According to the Somali communications ministry, Nadir was the head of al-Islamic Shabab’s propagation unit and was the target of a $3 million (£2.7 million) US bounty. Al-Shabab saw Nadir as a possible successor to its current head, Ahmed Omar Diriye, nicknamed Abu Ubaidah, who had long been said to be “in ill health.”

The communications ministry stated that Nadir was killed in an operation by Somali security forces and international partners.

Digging deeper
Somalia’s president has declared “total war” on al-Shabab, which has thousands of fighters and controls much of the country’s south and centre. According to neighbours, the organization survives in part by “taxing” or extorting residents, merchants, and travellers. 

In the background
Since its creation in 2006, al-Shabab has taken advantage of Somalia’s central government’s weakness, despite the government’s recent resurgence, to control significant areas of ungoverned territory. In 2011, the terrorist group seized control of parts of Mogadishu’s main city and the key port of Kismayo. Later that year, Kenyan troops serving as part of AMISOM entered Somalia and successfully drove al-Shabab out of the majority of its strongholds.

Al-Shabab has carried out more than 150 attacks in Kenya, a long-standing US partner, in response to the 2011 invasion. 

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