When he was just three years old, Mohammed’s parents sent him away from Somalia, which was in the midst of a civil war. He was eight years old when he eventually arrived in England.

“I was just like any other kid from the UK,” he reflects.”I had friends, I played football, I hung around in the streets. But I grew up without my parents.”

Then, as a teenager, he got into trouble with the police and was sentenced to two years in prison.

“In those two years, I began to change. I became religious. I was looking for a sense of belonging,” Mohammed explains.

Having never received British citizenship, Mohammed was deported upon his release from prison. He was 19 when he landed back in Somalia – and into the arms of al-Shabab.

“At first, I thought al-Shabab were the good guys,” he says.”They befriended me. They gave me a way to re-establish my life in Africa.”

Mohammed says he never carried a gun or killed anyone, but when he saw civilians dying in bomb attacks, his view of al-Shabab changed.

“That’s when I stopped being al-Shabab,” he says.”That’s when I realised I was a fool.”

Mohammed left the group, but being an al-Shabab defector came with its own dangers. He feared that if they found him, they would kill him.

He tried to hide from them in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, which is where he met Fathi, who was born in London but was sent to Somalia to be “re-educated”. The two get married, and when 17-year-old Fathi returned to London, she was pregnant.

But, despite it being the city where he grew up, Mohammed could not legally join his wife and child there. So he found himself adrift in a country and culture he didn’t fully understand, desperate to be reunited with his wife and child.

Lost Warrior follows the young couple as they navigate global politics and personal relationships in a bid to build a better future for their son.

 

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