The once-feared man – an al-Shabab co-founder, its former spokesperson and deputy leader – had been in a hideout for years before surrendering to the government in August 2017. He split with al-Shabab in 2013.
After intense negotiations with the state, Robow was delisted from the US terror list and denounced al-Shabab publicly.Some analysts believe the appointment could play a significant role in the fight against al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda-linked group formed in 2007, which wants to overthrow Somalia’s internationally recognised government and impose strict Islamic law. Robow, 52, once had a $5m United States reward on his head. He is not the only high-ranking al-Shabab leader to have defected from the group, but remains the only one to have been handed a top ministerial role.
Abdirahman Turyare, the Somali government spy chief between 2014 and 2016, said Robow’s appointment signals the government’s commitment to battling the group. His appointment will help the government not only militarily but also ideologically, and would encourage those within al-Shabab that they can defect to the government and can be welcomed, and even pardoned, if they denounce. In December 2018, Robow made it known he had political ambitions and wanted to vie for Somalia’s South-West State regional presidency. Ultimately, however, he did not participate in the race and was put under house arrest.