Category : Somalia

(WSJ) In Somalia, an Overlooked Extremist Hotbed Simmers

Maimed in the war between Somalia’s government and al Qaeda’s affiliate al-Shabaab, the patients of De Martino Hospital prefer not to talk about what happened to them.

“Everybody’s afraid,” the hospital’s director, Abdi Ibrahim Jiya, said as he walked through a ward filled with recent arrivals. “If you complain and are for the government, you’re afraid of the Shabaab. And if you complain and are for the Shabaab, you’re afraid of the government.”

Such is the balance of fear in Somalia’s capital, a bustling city of three million people where, despite years of international military efforts to stamp out Islamic extremists, security remains elusive and government authority fleeting. In October, Mogadishu was hit by Africa’s deadliest terrorist attack—a truck bombing that killed more than 500 people.

Outside Mogadishu, things are worse. Al-Shabaab controls roughly 30% of the country’s territory, Somali government officials estimate. Alongside Taliban-held areas of Afghanistan, that is the world’s largest swath of real estate that remains under jihadist sway since the recent demise of Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliphate in Iraq and Syria.

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Posted in Africa, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Somalia, Terrorism, Violence

A Must-not-Miss Radiolab Podcast–Anna in Somalia

Take the time to listen to it all–what an incredible story (Hat tip:EH).

Posted in Books, Prison/Prison Ministry, Somalia

(Economist) Kenya is battling an ever more sophisticated jihadist foe

In the small hours of December 2nd gunmen snuck up on a group of sleeping quarry workers in Mandera country, close to Kenya’s border with Somalia. They were rounded up and made to lie face-down on the ground. Thirty-four of the men, who make a pitiful living mining and breaking stones, were executed with a bullet to the head; two were beheaded; all were non-Muslims.

Ten days earlier in the same remote part of Kenya gunmen flagged down an early-morning bus. Each passenger was asked to recite a verse from the Koran and to respond to a Muslim greeting. Those who failed were shot in the head. Twenty-eight people, many of them teachers going home for the Christmas holidays, were killed.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Kenya, Religion & Culture, Somalia, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(Daily Nation) Hard questions emerge over handling of Westgate Mall terror attack

Did the masterminds of the Westgate terror escape within an hour of launching the attack? Could the terrorists who remained behind to continue the senseless killing and repulse security forces also slip away unnoticed?

And what is the fate of the hostages thought to have been held in the siege? What about the destruction of the mall, did the military bomb it? And who looted the shops?

These are some of the hard questions that Kenyans are seeking answers to as sources reveal new accounts that have not been formally released by the government, further intensifying the mystery that surrounds the four-day siege.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Kenya, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Somalia, Terrorism, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(AP) Leaders of Minnesota Somali community say young men still being enticed to join terror group

Leaders of the nation’s largest Somali community say some of their young men are still being enticed to join the terror group that has claimed responsibility for the deadly mall attack in Kenya, despite a concentrated effort to shut off what authorities call a “deadly pipeline” of men and money.

Six years have passed since Somali-American fighters began leaving Minnesota to become part of al-Shabab. Now the Somali community is dismayed over reports that a few of its own might have been involved in the violence at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi.

“One thing I know is the fear is growing,” said Abdirizak Bihi, whose nephew was among at least six men from Minnesota who have died in Somalia. More are presumed dead.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Islam, Kenya, Men, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Somalia, Terrorism, Violence, Young Adults

(Telegraph) Nairobi shopping mall attack: Islamist terror is now a hi-tech global brand

if the initial reports of the investigation into the latest atrocity are anything to go by, taking retaliatory action against the culprits will not be as straightforward as it was back in the Nineties.

Al-Qaeda has come a long way since its early days, when groups of fanatical jihadi fighters hatched desperate plots to attack the West from remote caves hidden away in the Hindu Kush. These days, as the Kenyan authorities are discovering, al-Qaeda has developed into a truly global brand, a multinational terror force that is just as capable of drawing recruits from the prosperous mid-West of the United States as the slums of downtown Mogadishu.

While al-Shabaab (“the youth”), the Somali-based al-Qaeda affiliate, has claimed responsibility for the shopping mall atrocity, Kenyan investigators have been alarmed to discover the cosmopolitan character of those involved in the killings. Apart from the Somalis who took part, the 15 terrorists who stormed the mall at noon last Saturday are said to have included extremists from the US, Britain, Canada, Sweden, Syria, Finland, Russia, Dagestan and Kenya.

Read it all from Con Coughlin.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Kenya, Somalia, Terrorism, Violence

(NPR) The Last Tweets From An American Jihadist In Somalia

Omar Hammami grew up in the small of town of Daphne, Ala., but ended up in southern Somalia on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist list. Last week, Hammami was reportedly killed by members of al-Shabab, the al-Qaida-linked militant group, after a falling out with its leadership.

He was known for rapping in an al-Shabab and was the subject of an in The New York Times Magazine. He also went by the name of Abu Mansoor Al-Amriki, or “the American.”

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, America/U.S.A., Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Somalia, Terrorism, Violence

(NBC) Gunfire, explosions reported as bloody Kenya mall siege enters its third day

Gunfire and explosions were heard at a shopping mall in Kenya’s capital early Monday as a hostage standoff which has left at least 68 people dead entered its third day.

The FBI said it was investigating reports that as many as five Americans were among the group of al Qaeda-linked terrorists who raided the Westgate mall in Nairobi on Saturday.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Kenya, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Somalia, Violence

(AP) Somali militants threaten suicide attacks in Kenya

A spokesman for the Somali militant group al-Shabab is threatening Kenya with suicide attacks like those that killed 76 people in Uganda last year.

Al-Shabab spokesman Ali Mohamud Rage told a news conference in Mogadishu on Monday that Kenya must pull its troops out of Somalia. Lines of Kenyan troops poured into Somalia over the weekend. Kenyan officials say the country has the right to defend itself from Somalia’s most powerful militant group.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Kenya, Religion & Culture, Somalia, Violence

(Sky News) Appeal As Food Crisis Worsens In East Africa

The crisis is deepening for some of the 13m East Africans worst-hit by one of the most devastating droughts in 60 years, aid agencies have warned.

World Food Day is being marked nearly three months since the UN declared a famine in parts of the Horn of Africa.

But people in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and the newly-formed Republic of South Sudan remain in desperate need of food, water and emergency healthcare.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc., Poverty, Somalia, Weather

The Vatican Reiterates its Appeal for the Horn of Africa

The Vatican is calling particular attention to the dire circumstances of the peoples of the Horn of Africa, in particular Somalia, who have been facing a severe drought and food crisis since July.

The press office published an informative noted on the “Efforts and Commitment of the Catholic Church in the Horn of Africa,” which is issued in conjunction with a press conference held today by the Pontifical Council Cor Unum on the plight of several East African countries.

Presented in a question-and-answer format, the note summarized the situation in countries such as Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia: “A severe drought, conflict and lack of governments have led to massive numbers of people going hungry.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc., Other Churches, Poverty, Roman Catholic, Somalia, Weather

US Catholic Bishops Issue Aid Appeal For Drought and Famine Victims

“Every day we are seeing more and more heartbreaking news about the drought and famine in Somalia and the eastern parts of Africa. We see millions of people being forced from their homes, leaving behind what meager possessions they had, and walking for days over rough terrain,” wrote Archbishop Dolan and Bishop Kicanas.

“There are parents whose little children have died, and children who have been orphaned. They are suffering from hunger, thirst, disease, and drought,” they said. “It is a humanitarian crisis that cries out for help to Christians throughout the world. The Holy Father, on several occasions, has asked Catholics to respond generously to the desperate needs of our brothers and sisters in East Africa.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Other Churches, Poverty, Roman Catholic, Somalia

A Prayer for the people of the Horn of Africa

From here:

God, our refuge and strength,

we pray for the people of Somalia and the Horn of Africa

as they face drought, famine and hardship.

Bring near the day when wars shall cease

and poverty and pain shall end,

that earth may know the peace of heaven

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Poverty, Somalia, Spirituality/Prayer

(CNS) Growing influx of refugees poses challenge for giant Kenyan camp

– It took 32 days for Fatima Mohammed to make it from her drought-racked farm in Somalia to the relative safety of a sprawling refugee settlement in northeastern Kenya. There were days, she recalled, when her children were so thirsty that they could not walk and the men in her family would ferry them ahead, returning to carry two more children in their arms.

Fatima Mohammed told Catholic News Service that her family had lived through drought before, but that support from aid agencies helped them survive until the rains returned.

“This time, al-Shabaab won’t let them in,” she said, referring to the Islamist group that controls portions of Somalia. “So when our animals started dying, our only choice was to stay and die ourselves, or else start walking for Kenya.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Kenya, Poverty, Somalia

(NY Times) Somalis Waste Away as Insurgents Block Escape From Famine

The Shabab Islamist insurgent group, which controls much of southern Somalia, is blocking starving people from fleeing the country and setting up a cantonment camp where it is imprisoning displaced people who were trying to escape Shabab territory.

The group is widely blamed for causing a famine in Somalia by forcing out many Western aid organizations, depriving drought victims of desperately needed food. The situation is growing bleaker by the day, with tens of thousands of Somalis already dead and more than 500,000 children on the brink of starvation.

Every morning, emaciated parents with emaciated children stagger into Banadir Hospital, a shell of a building with floors that stink of diesel fuel because that is all the nurses have to fight off the flies. Babies are dying because of the lack of equipment and medicine. Some get hooked up to adult-size intravenous drips ”” pediatric versions are hard to find ”” and their compromised bodies cannot handle the volume of fluid.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Health & Medicine, Somalia, Violence

(BBC) US 'to aid Islamist areas of famine-hit Somalia'

The US has said it will send aid to famine-hit areas of Somalia controlled by the Islamist group al-Shabab.

But US aid officials say assurances must be given that the insurgents will not interfere with its distribution.

The US considers al-Shabab a terrorist group and last year stopped aid to the large area of Somalia it controls.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, America/U.S.A., Foreign Relations, Islam, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Somalia, Terrorism

Children Carry Guns for a U.S. Ally, Somalia

Awil Salah Osman prowls the streets of this shattered city, looking like so many other boys, with ripped-up clothes, thin limbs and eyes eager for attention and affection.

But Awil is different in two notable ways: he is shouldering a fully automatic, fully loaded Kalashnikov assault rifle; and he is working for a military that is substantially armed and financed by the United States.

“You!” he shouts at a driver trying to sneak past his checkpoint, his cherubic face turning violently angry.

“You know what I’m doing here!” He shakes his gun menacingly. “Stop your car!”

The driver halts immediately. In Somalia, lives are lost quickly, and few want to take their chances with a moody 12-year-old.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Children, Somalia, Violence

U.S. Is Said to Expand Secret Military Acts in Mideast Region

The top American commander in the Middle East has ordered a broad expansion of clandestine military activity in an effort to disrupt militant groups or counter threats in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and other countries in the region, according to defense officials and military documents.

The secret directive, signed in September by Gen. David H. Petraeus, authorizes the sending of American Special Operations troops to both friendly and hostile nations in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa to gather intelligence and build ties with local forces. Officials said the order also permits reconnaissance that could pave the way for possible military strikes in Iran if tensions over its nuclear ambitions escalate.

While the Bush administration had approved some clandestine military activities far from designated war zones, the new order is intended to make such efforts more systematic and long term, officials said. Its goals are to build networks that could “penetrate, disrupt, defeat or destroy” Al Qaeda and other militant groups, as well as to “prepare the environment” for future attacks by American or local military forces, the document said. The order, however, does not appear to authorize offensive strikes in any specific countries.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Middle East, Somalia, Terrorism

Notable and Quotable (I)

…What`s so interesting at the same time is that what I think people…find so jarring about Omar Hammami is how familiar he is. When most people think about jihadists, they have this image of these people who are alien, otherworldly….People you can`t imagine knowing, who are at odds with the West. And Omar Hammami just turns that on his head, because he`s really straddling the divide. And not just him, but also a lot of these guys from Minneapolis. They get to Somalia and they continue to maintain contact with their friends and family via Facebook, via cell phones, via e-mail. All of the tools — this is a new generation, this is a generation that has come of age with the Internet. And so they remain connected to this wider modern world, while at the same time embracing this vision of utopia that goes back centuries. And while also seeing America as the enemy. And so, it`s the juxtaposition of those two things that I think people find so alarming, especially with Hammami, because, I mean, he could be the kid next door. For a lot of people who grew up with him, he is the kid next door. So he brings this home.

–Andrea Elliott of the New York Times in a recent Charlie Rose interview

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Islam, Other Faiths, Somalia, Terrorism

NY Times Magazine–The Jihadist Next Door, about a boy who grew up in Alabama who is now a Terrorist

Omar Hammami had every right to flash his magnetic smile. He had just been elected president of his sophomore class. He was dating a luminous blonde, one of the most sought-after girls in school. He was a star in the gifted-student program, with visions of becoming a surgeon. For a 15-year-old, he had remarkable charisma.

Despite the name he acquired from his father, an immigrant from Syria, Hammami was every bit as Alabaman as his mother, a warm, plain-spoken woman who sprinkles her conversation with blandishments like “sugar” and “darlin’.” Brought up a Southern Baptist, Omar went to Bible camp as a boy and sang “Away in a Manger” on Christmas Eve. As a teenager, his passions veered between Shakespeare and Kurt Cobain, soccer and Nintendo. In the thick of his adolescence, he was fearless, raucously funny, rebellious, contrarian. “It felt cool just to be with him,” his best friend at the time, Trey Gunter, said recently. “You knew he was going to be a leader.”

A decade later, Hammami has fulfilled that promise in the most unimaginable way. Some 8,500 miles from Alabama, on the eastern edge of Africa, he has become a key figure in one of the world’s most ruthless Islamist insurgencies. That guerrilla army, known as the Shabab, is fighting to overthrow the fragile American-backed Somali government. The rebels are known for beheading political enemies, chopping off the hands of thieves and stoning women accused of adultery. With help from Al Qaeda, they have managed to turn Somalia into an ever more popular destination for jihadis from around the world.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, America/U.S.A., Baptists, Egypt, Islam, Marriage & Family, Middle East, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Somalia, Teens / Youth, Violence