Malaysian jailed 15 years for assisting terrorist group in Somalia

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KUALA LUMPUR: A Malaysian man known as Ahmad Mustakim Abdul Hamid has been sentenced to 15 years jail by a Somali military court in Mogadishu for assisting the Al-Shabaab terrorist group in the Horn of Africa country.

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The Press Attaché of Somalia’s Embassy in Malaysia Abdimajit M Osman – in a phone interview with Bernama last night – said that the sentence was read out by Colonel Hassan Ali Nur Shuuto, who is the Armed Forces Court chairman.

“However, under Somalia’s justice system, Mustakim has the opportunity to appeal his sentence,” Abdimajit added.

Abdimajit was previously reported as saying that Mustakim’s court proceedings began in 2019 after his arrest that year, and that the Malaysian was being treated well and receiving a fair trial according to Somalia’s justice system.

He said Mustakim is believed to have entered Somalia around 2009 or 2010.

”Somalia has been suffering a lot due to foreign nationals who have been supporting and fighting for Al-Shabaab all these years against our people. Our government will take harsh actions against any foreigners who set their foot on Somali soil to support terrorism activities,” he said.

However, Abdimajit also said: “Somalia will always welcome Malaysian people who always provided a warm and hospitable welcome to our nationals visiting and studying in Malaysia.

“Somalia and Malaysia are brothers with strong historical ties. The Somali government always aspires to strengthen our bilateral ties.”

Abdimajit said Mustakim, 34, is the first Malaysian to be charged with assisting the Al-Shabaab in Somalia.

Meanwhile, the Somali National News Agency (Sonna) reported that besides Mustakim, the military court also sentenced another foreign national (who was arrested along with Mustakim) to 15 years’ jail.

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“Mustakim, for his part, assisted the terrorists with First Aid and took part in fighting in Mogadishu and Dhusamareb,” the agency said, according to a transcript translated by the Somali embassy in Malaysia.

Mogadishu is the capital city of Somalia while Dhusamareb, which is 510km north of Mogadishu, is the capital of Galmudug state in central Somalia.

On Saturday, Malaysia’s foreign minister Saifuddin Abdullah was reported as saying that the foreign ministry is closely monitoring the detention and legal process imposed on Mustakim and that the Malaysian Embassy officials in Khartoum, Sudan, had made a consular visit to ensure his welfare and health were taken care of.

“The ministry will continue to monitor developments in the case and will provide the necessary assistance to him by ensuring his rights and welfare are always protected and that he gets a fair trial in accordance with the law.

“We must respect the laws of the respective country, and we may ask for our embassy representatives to attend his court proceedings,” Saifuddin had said.

The Al-Shabaab, which is al-Qaeda’s most dangerous affiliate in the African continent, is also known for its high-profile attacks such as the 2013 Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi in Kenya and numerous assassinations of Somali politicians and military officers.

Although the Al-Shabaab continues to pose a security threat in East Africa and with its activities spreading beyond Somalia’s borders, the group is much weakened now after the killing of many of its key leaders and members.

The Al-Shabaab has killed, both inside and outside Somalia, thousands of civilians and security personnel in brutal attacks, and continues to launch attacks against civilian and military targets in Somalia despite the government’s intensive operations against them for the past couple of years. -BERNAMA -FMT