Somalia to screen disengaged ex-Al-Shabaab militants

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Somalia’s security agencies have kicked off plans to screen disengaged Al-Shabaab combatants who want to be reintegrated into communities.

The UN mission in Somalia (UNSOM)-backed two-day conference that ended in Mogadishu on Thursday reviewed standard operating procedures and building the capacity of the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) for screening ex Al-Shabaab militants.

UNSOM Police Commissioner Christoph Buik said security agencies like NISA were the pillar of the program as they deal directly with ex-combatants who decide to defect.

“You are doing the screening. You will decide about the future of the ex-combatants coming from Al-Shabaab, what they will do and how they can be integrated into the society in Somalia again. This is a huge responsibility,” Buik said in a statement from UNSOM.

The screening process is a key part of the National Programme for the Treatment and Handling of Disengaged Combatants in Somalia.
The conference discussed ways of combating terrorism and ensuring that disengaged Al-Shabaab combatants who want to be reintegrated into communities receive necessary support.

NISA Commander for the Disengaged Combatants, Abdifatah Sayid Ahmed, said the training involved harmonizing of the screening process with the risk assessment of Al-Shabaab disengaged combatants to identify those who pose minimal risks.

This category, Ahmed said, will include ex-combatants who were forced into joining the militant group.

The standardized screening process is modelled on the system used in Australia, the Netherlands, Nigeria and Britain.

NISA Deputy Director Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur noted the government’s pledge to pardon Al-Shabaab militants who surrender and also assist them to reintegrate into society.

“As much as the use of bullets can be employed in stability, peaceful channels can achieve much needed results. These peaceful settlements can be achieved through dialogue and forgiveness,” he said.

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