The insurgents in Jamaame district in southern Somalia had been monitoring 28-year-old Hassan Hurshe since his arrival from a Kenya in 2010 and determined that he had become a Christian while in Kenya, said area Muslim sources whose names are withheld for security reasons.
Al Shabaab members on June 7 brought Hurshe to a public place in the town of Jilib and shot him in the head, they said.
“Many people watched this horrible action, including women and children,” said a witness.
Another area resident independently confirmed this account of the execution. A leader of the Somali underground church in Kenya who had also heard of the murder said Hurshe converted to Christianity in 2006, married in 2008 and fathered a baby boy in 2009.
The family left for Jilib, a town of about 45,000 in the Middle Juba Region, in the latter part of 2010 to visit family and start a small food shop, the source said.
Somalis are considered Muslim by birth, and apostasy, or leaving Islam, is punishable by death. After the execution, Hurshe’s parents, widow and son fled the area, a local resident said.
Many Somali members of Christian fellowships in Kenya have returned to Somalia after formation of a Somali government on Aug. 20, 2012, which replaced the Transitional Federal Government. Somali government troops backed by African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces have retaken large swathes of territory from the rebels.
Al Shabaab, said to have ties with Al Qaeda terrorists, has vowed to rid Somalia of Christians, who meet secretly due to persecution.
The insurgents have lost control of several areas of Somalia since Kenyan military forces helped to dislodge them in the past year, but they are suspected in the shooting death of a Christian pharmacist on the outskirts of Kismayo in February. Two masked men killed Ahmed Ali Jimale, a 42-year-old father of four, on Feb. 18 as he stood outside his house in Alanley village.
On Dec. 8, 2012 in Beledweyne, 206 miles (332 kilometers) north of Mogadishu, gunmen killed a Christian who had been receiving death threats for leaving Islam. Two unidentified, masked men shot Mursal Isse Siad, 55, outside his home, Muslim and Christian sources said.
Siad and his wife, who converted to Christianity in 2000, had moved to Beledweyne from Doolow eight months before. The area was under government control and there was no indication that the killers belonged to the Al Shabaab rebels, but the Islamic extremist insurgents were present in Buulodbarde, 20 kilometers (12 miles) away, and Christians believed a few Al Shabaab rebels could have been hiding in Beledweyne.
In the coastal city of Barawa on Nov. 16, 2012, Al Shabaab militants killed a Christian after accusing him of being a spy and leaving Islam, Christian and Muslim witnesses said. The extremists beheaded 25-year-old Farhan Haji Mose after monitoring his movements for six months, sources said.
Mose drew suspicion when he returned to Barawa, in the Lower Shebelle Region, in December 2011 after spending time in Kenya, according to underground Christians in Somalia. Kenya’s population is nearly 83 percent Christian, according to Operation World, while Somalia’s is close to 100 percent Muslim.
Xafiiska Wararka Midnimo, firstname.lastname@example.org