The Al Qaeda affiliate in Somalia, al Shabab, announced the death of a leader on Thursday, Sheikh Hassan Turki.
"Sheikh Hassan Abdulahi Turki died last night in Hargeysa Yarey township. We pray to God to give him his mercy and accept his long-term good deeds," Shebab spokesman Ali Mohamud Rage said in an audio message. Rage said Turki "was one of Somalia's greatest scholars".
Hassan Turki, died on Wednesday evening in the Middle Juba region south of the capital Mogadishu. Turki was in his 70s and suffered from some health related issues.
Turki met Osama bin Laden twice in Afghanistan and another time in Sudan and fought in the “Black Hawk Down incident” in Mogadishu in 1993 in which 18 US soldiers were killed.
Turki was a founding member of Al-Itihaad Al-Islami in the early 1990s, alongside Hassan Dahir Aweys, often regarded as the godfather of Islamic militancy in Somalia. This all gave Turki a key role in the country’s civil war.
Turki and Aweys formed another Islamic themed fighting group called: Hizbul Islam” and helped establish al Shabab which emerged in the wake of the US-backed Ethiopian invasion that ended its rule.
In 2004 the US put Turki on its list of global al Qaeda leaders after accusing him of involvement in the US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, which took place six years earlier.
Turki survived a US air strike targeting him in 2008.