When terrorists defect

By John Horgan
But only six men show up as they arrive in two cars. Entering the room, they take seats at a long conference table. They are quiet and appear nervous.
We are told we probably have two or three hours with these defectors from Al-Shabaab, an al Qaeda-affiliated militant group operating in Somalia.
Three are former child soldiers. One looks barely 17. He fidgets constantly and struggles to maintain eye contact.
Two adults say little, though one, a zakat (tax) collector in his mid-50s, insists early in the interview he was “only a driver.”
Another is a bearded, middle-aged man who sits at the end of the table.
He, I am told, is a former senior commander. An imposing figure, he has a presence felt by all in the room. He is quick to answer questions, including those not directed to him.
He has recruited dozens of young boys into Al-Shabaab but now smuggles out those desperate to leave the group. So far, according to my host, this man’s penitence has helped almost 70 people escape the clutches of these jihadists, whose brutality is matched only by ISIS.