UN removes former Somali warlord from sanctions list

United Nations (United States) (AFP) – A former Somali warlord who renounced his alliance with the Islamist Shebab group this summer was removed from a UN sanctions list Friday.

Mohamed Said Atom, a powerful arms dealer, had been targeted with UN travel and financial sanctions for “kidnapping, piracy and terrorism.”

In June, Atom announced he had laid down his arms and would in future only work through “peaceful means and understanding.”

He accused Shebab, which is linked to Al-Qaeda, of being manipulated by a foreign agenda and of killing Muslims.

Shebab controls areas of Somalia and has staged a number of brazen assassinations and killings in Mogadishu, as well as in neighbouring Kenya.

The United Nations Security Council committee dealing with Somalia announced Atom’s removal from the sanctions list.

At the time of Atom’s announcement, the Somali government hailed the development as evidence its amnesty offer to anyone renouncing terrorism, armed military activity, or piracy was producing results.

Following the UN’s decision Friday, Somali’s Information Minister Mustafa Duhulow said in Mogadishu his government had lobbied the UN to remove repenting individuals like Atom from sanction lists.

“The government negotiated with the UN and various member states to remove from its list someone who renounced violence, and all links with Shebab and similar terrorist organisations.”

Duhulow said the UN action was important encouragement for “anyone who wants to renounce violence and join the peace process,” and renewed Somalia’s promise of reconciliation with people who “admit their crimes.”

Somalia was plunged into a prolonged period of conflict and chaos when the autocratic regime of Said Barre fell in 1991.

Since then, failure to forge a new central government capable of imposing order outside across Somalia has allowed rival warlords, criminal groups, pirate networks, and Islamist militias to operate freely outside the capital.

Despite Atom’s deletion from UN scrolls, however, he remains on the US Treasury’s financial sanctions list.

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