MARGARET WARNER: So tell us more about Ayro. How significant a figure was he in this Islamic insurgency that's fighting the transitional Somali government right now?
JEFFREY GETTLEMAN: He was very significant. And he has a very interesting back story. He's thought to be around 30 years old.
He started out as a lowly car-washer, washing cars for some of the clan leaders in Somalia in the '90s, and joined one of these street gang-type militias that were fighting for control of Somalia in the early 1990s, after the central government collapsed.
He then rose through the ranks of his clan militia, and he caught the attention of a man named has Hassan Dahir Aweys, who later became one of the Islamist leaders.
It was through this friendship that he was sent to Afghanistan in early 2000 or 2001. He learned explosives training. He supposedly fought with the Taliban against American forces after Sept. 11 in Afghanistan, then returned to Somalia, and began to spread very radical and extremist ideas, along with explosives know-how.
He then became one of the Islamic militia commanders in Somalia in 2006 and 2007. And he's been leading the resistance against the transitional federal government of Somalia, which is supported by the U.S. and the U.N., but pretty unpopular and struggling with a real Islamic insurgency.
MARGARET WARNER: And he had engaged in not only violent, but some sort of fairly strange militant activities.
JEFFREY GETTLEMAN: He did. One of the things he's most notorious for is ripping up graves of Italians who had lived in Somalia when Somalia was an Italian colony before World War II. And Ayro had gone into this graveyard and tore up all these graves, had really upset a lot of people by doing that.
He has been blamed for the killing of a female BBC journalist who was gunned down in front of her hotel in Mogadishu in 2005.
Then, there was an Italian nun in 2006, an elderly woman, who was shot dead at a hospital in Mogadishu. Ayro was blamed for that.
He's been blamed for some attacks on aid workers and assassinations against Somali officials. So he really was one of the most notorious, feared figures across Somalia.