For over a decade, the terrorist group Al-Shabab has been waging a campaign of violence and terror across Somalia with its seemingly endless supply of new recruits. Al-Shabab, which means the youth in Arabic, has been incredibly successful at preying on disenfranchised young men from marginalized communities. However, a few ordinary Somalis are working to deny the terrorist group its ability not only to recruit new fighters but also to help those who fell for its false promises. A rehabilitation center not far from the capital of Mogadishu is working to rescue hundreds of former Al-Shabab recruits who have defected and provide vocational training before returning them to their communities. By giving defectors a second chance at life, Al-Shabab will be stripped of one of its greatest assets—young men to carry out more terror attacks.
When children escape life with al-Shabab extremists, they don’t escape the trauma of years on the front lines. And there’s little help to be had in a nation still buffeted by violence.
A former member of al-Shabab reflects on his time with the extremist group.
In May 2018, Hassan Ghedi Santur traveled to Mogadishu, Somalia, to report on former al-Shabab child soldiers and the many challenges that await them once they defect from the group.
This week: a teenager adjusts to life after Al-Shabab, Losing Earth premiers shortly, and one man's quest to eradicate a skin disease.