Authorities in Somalia are detaining a local singer who they say was a supporter of al-Shabaab.
In a tweet on Wednesday, Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) said they had arrested the singer who was a member of a music band associated with Benadir local government in Mogadishu.
They accused him of “spying” for al-Shabaab.
However, al-Shabaab, through their media, said the singer did not belong to the militant group. “The person who has been in the video clip…does not belong to the jihadist group al-Shabaab,” it said on somalimemo.net, a website.
NISA posted a video of the musician allegedly confessing he was a finance manager of the Shabaab.
It wasn’t clear for how long the artiste sang on the band, but the authority also posted older videos of him singing, suggesting he may have used his public appearance as a singer to conduct covert militant operations.
“NISA planned the operation and had secretly followed the suspect for a long time,” the agency said in a tweet posted in Somali language on Wednesday.
“He will be handed over to the courts [for prosecution].”
If found guilty, Somali law allows up to a death penalty for terrorists.
The revelations came as authorities in Mogadishu fight the public perception that al-Shabaab has infiltrated government agencies, including NISA itself.
In another high profile incident, Mohamed Haji Ahmed alias Ilka-ase was earlier this month sentenced to death by a military court in Mogadishu after he was found guilty of being a Shabaab cell leader.
Recently, there have been a series of car bomb explosions in Somalia, one of which killed at least 85 people in December. On Sunday, another car bomb went off, injuring at least a dozen people, among them Turkish nationals.
Al-Shabaab militants have also recently increased attacks in neighbouring Kenya, targeting communication and security installations along the border with Somalia. Last week, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta authorised police to launch a major counter-terrorism operation against terrorists and their sympathisers.