Somali al Shabaab Islamist militants, who carried out frequent bombings in Mogadishu, said a former leader who defected to government was an apostate who could be killed.
Al Shabaab fell out with former spokesman and deputy leader, Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansur, in 2013. He defected to the UN-backed government in August last year.
Al Shabaab has been fighting for years to topple Somalia’s central government and rule the Horn of Africa country according to its own interpretation of Islamic law.
“If Mukhtar Robow thinks he can destroy Islamic sharia and the mujahedeen, he is deluded. Allah will protect Islam and Jihad will not stop because of you and your likes who joined the enemies,” Ali Mohamud Rage, al Shabaab spokesman, said in a video.
It was not immediately possible to reach Robow for comment.
“No doubt, Mukhtar Robow left his religion and joined the disbelievers and the enemies are still the enemies,” the al Shabaab spokesman said.
“Anybody who joins the line of non-Muslims is an apostate who can be killed.”
A report by rights body Human Rights Watch said al Shabaab threatened and abducted civilians in Somalia’s Bay region to force communities to hand over their children for indoctrination and military training in recent months.
“Al Shabaab’s ruthless recruitment campaign is taking rural children from their parents so they can serve this militant armed group,” said Laetitia Bader, senior Africa researcher for the rights body.
The insurgents, allied with al Qaeda, were driven out of Mogadishu in 2011. They have also lost nearly all other territory they previously controlled after an offensive by Somali government troops and African Union-mandated AMISOM peacekeepers.
Al Shabaab remains a formidable threat and carries out bombings in Mogadishu and elsewhere against military and civilian targets.