March 27, 2015 | Morning Headlines.

Main Story

Saudi Arabia Requests Use Of Somali Airspace For Houthi Attack

26 March – Source: Radio Dalsan – 165 Words

Sources have confirmed to Radio Dalsan that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has officially requested the Somali government to use its airspace and territorial waters to carry out operations against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Somali Foreign Minister Abdulsalam Omer is on his way to Riyadh from the United Arab Emirates to discuss the possibility of more cooperation with regional power Saudi Arabia. Somalia and Yemen share a border along the Red Sea which makes it strategic position for attack. The rebel-held port city of Aden, which is also significant target for the Saudi led coalition, is a three hour boat journey from the Somali port city of Bosaso in the northeast. Air traffic across the Middle East and the horn of Africa has been affected by the operation. Gulf States and other Muslim countries such as Sudan and Pakistan have joined Saudi Arabia in efforts to halt the rebel advance in Yemen in an effort to protect the legitimate government of President Abdul Rabu Al Mansour Hadi.

Key Headlines

  • Saudi Arabia Requests Use Of Somali airspace For Houthi Attack (Radio Dalsan)
  • Somalia President Clan Elders In Fresh Squabble Over Convention (Garowe Online)
  • Jubbaland Forces Along With AMISOM In Operations To Liberate Villages Under Al-Shabab Control(RBC Radio)
  • Somali Pirates Hijack Vessel For First Time In 3 Years (Horseed Media)
  • Ahlu Sunnah Accuses Government Of Breaking Accord (Radio Goobjoog)
  • Uganda Confirms Al-Shabaab Threat (New Vision)
  • Fears Al-Shabaab Is On The Verge Of Joining Forces With Islamic State (ENCA)
  • Sierra Leone News: Soldiers Who Die In Somalia Were Heroes CDS (Sierra Leone Times)
  • Somali Entrepreneur To Launch Scheme To Ease Cash Transfer Fears (Reuters)
  • Innovation In Somalia: Launch Of E-Transfer Cards In Bossaso (WFP)

 

SOMALI MEDIA

Jubbaland Forces Along With AMISOM In Operations To Liberate Villages Under Al-Shabab Control

26 March – Source: RBC Radio – 129 Words
Interim Jubba Administration forces along with African Union troops are carrying out heavy fighting against the Al-Qaeda affiliated militants Al-Shabab in the Jubba regions, RBC reports. Earlier in the week, the joint forces seized the strategic Kudhaa Island from the militants. The Interim Jubba forces and AMISOM troops are also advancing to areas under Al-Shabab control, vowing to liberate them soon according to the second deputy president of Interim Jubba Administration, Gacmadheere. Jubbaland forces have reached Kulbiyow village in Lower Jubba and are proceeding to towns under Al-Shabab control according to Mohamed Ismael, the mayor of Kulbiyow. The joint forces are expected to liberate the remaining Al-Shabab hideouts and safe havens in Jubba region.


Somali Pirates Hijack Vessel For First Time In 3 Years

26 March – Source: Horseed Media – 299 Words

Somali pirates have hijacked an illegal fishing trawler in the first successful hijacking in the region in three years, reports and UN officials said on Thursday. According to the Agence France-Presse (AFP), the Somali gangs seized an Iranian illegal fishing vessel off the coast of Somalia, especially the waters close to Mudug’s Ceel Huur village, citing a UN official. “An Iranian vessel, fishing illegally in Somali waters, was hijacked earlier this week,” Head of UN’s office on Drugs and Crime, Alan Cole, was quoted by the French agency. Authorities in Somalia are yet to confirm on the hijacking of the unidentified Iranian vessel, which might lead to the revival of Piracy in the war-ravaged nation’s sea and leaves concern on the maritime bodies.

The UN senior official went on to warn over the resurgence of the pirates. The number of attacks by Somali pirates dropped sharply since 2012, largely because of an international naval effort. One of the other major factors that led to the decline of piracy was the growing lack of support or even resistance to piracy operations by local communities. As much as many Somalis along the coast resented the international navies, they resented the effects of piracy on their communities even more. Relative stability in Somalia in the past last three years after 20 years of chaos and war has raised hopes that it could lead to a more permanent solution to a problem that has driven up shipping insurance rates, but it has yet to solve the issue. This first hijack of Somali pirates in three years comes as Somali fishermen have continuously complained of illegal fishing trawlers, leading them to lose their economic opportunities and opted to quit their jobs for safety reasons.


Somalia President, Clan Elders In Fresh Squabble Over Convention

26 March – Source: Garowe Online – 194 Words

Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is in Dhusamareb, the regional capital of Galgadud for the third day of a regional convention on the formation of central state, Garowe Online reports. Independent sources tell Garowe Online that President Mohamud locked horns with clan elders over the central town that would host the regional convention. “President Hassan wants that the second phase of reconciliation conference be held in Adado in favor of Himan and Heeb local administration,” a source said on condition of anonymity. On Tuesday, Mohamud arrived to a warm welcome in Dhusamareb, and praised traditional leaders and politicians for their role in the state formation process. Earlier on Monday, a group of clan elders shifted away the gathering from Adado to Dhusamareb in a move backed by the paramilitary group Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama’a. Analysts warn that it may take a long time for the federal state stakeholders to reach communal consensus on the standing differences. In early March Ahlu Sunna signed a peace deal with the UN-backed weak central government in Mogadishu after weeks of fighting between the two.


Ahlu Sunnah Accuses Government Of Breaking Accord

26 March – Source: Radio Goobjoog – 110 Words
The Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama’a group has accused the government of breaking the accord it reached with them after the Guri El clashes. Sheikh Mohamed Shakir, the Chairman of Ahlu Sunnah’s Central Command told Goobjoog that the government has failed to implement the accord it signed last month. He threatened to withdraw from the agreement and take necessary steps to enhance their cause. He further accused the government of interfering in the affairs of central regions and the state formation process. “Administrations in the regions should have been the ones to determine the venue of the conference, not the government,” the Sheikh said.

REGIONAL MEDIA

Uganda Confirms Al-Shabaab Threat

26 march – Source: New Vision – 396 Words

Uganda said Thursday it was boosting security over threats by Somalia’s Al-Shabaab militants, hours after the US embassy in Kampala warned its citizens of a possible imminent terror attack. In an emergency warning issued late Wednesday, the US mission in Kampala said it had “received information of possible terrorist threats to locations where Westerners, including US citizens, congregate in Kampala, and that an attack may take place soon.” Ugandan defence spokesman Paddy Ankunda said the warning was “absolutely” linked to the Al-Qaeda-linked Islamists, who have carried out major attacks in Kampala in the past. “We’ve always known there’s a threat and we’ve warned the public,” he said, adding the militants appeared to have “have identified vulnerable points” as possible targets and that security had been stepped up in response to the threat. Uganda is a key contributor to the African Union’s AMISOM force battling the Al-Shabaab inside Somalia. Ankunda insisted the threat was “low level”, although a Western diplomatic source also described it as “serious” and “based on concrete information”. “Out of an abundance of caution, the US mission has cancelled some non-essential events scheduled at local hotels in the coming days,” the US embassy warning said, telling US citizens they “should expect increased security sweeps and delays when entering or exiting hotel areas.”

The US embassy in Kampala last issued an emergency warning in September 2014. Ugandan and Western security sources later revealed they had intercepted a transfer of explosive suicide vests by suspected Al-Shabaab members. US officials said at the time that the militants were determined to avenge the killing of their leader Ahmed Abdi Godane in a US airstrike carried out earlier that month. In 2010 the Al-Shabaab carried out twin bombings in Kampala targeting a restaurant and a club where football fans were watching the World Cup final between the Netherlands and Spain, killing 76 people in the region’s worst attacks in more than a decade. The Islamists were also behind the September 2013 attack on the Westgate shopping mall in neighbouring Kenya’s capital Nairobi which left at least 67 dead, and recently issued a call for fresh attacks against such locations. The US has continued to strike the militants from the air, and last week announced it had also killed a senior Al-Shabaab figure, Adan Garar, who was linked to the planning of the Westgate mall attack.

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA

Sierra Leone News: Soldiers Who Die In Somalia Were Heroes CDS

26 March – Source: Sierra Leone Times – 280 Words

Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Maj. Gen. Samuel Omar Williams has told the spouses of the six soldiers who died in action in Somalia that they were heroes. He made this statement last Friday at the Defence Headquarters.The CDS said Sierra Leone government sent 850 soldiers to help bring peace in Somalia and six of them perished there in different times. “These soldiers went to help Somalians enjoy peace as it was what other nations did for us in Sierra Leone when we had our own civil war. Unfortunately these six soldiers died in the process, but we will never forget them and that is why we have called you all to show our respect to them.”He encouraged them to take heart and always remember that their husbands, father, son, brother served Sierra Leone diligently until their death.

“They were brave and even in death they fulfilled their dreams of making Sierra Leone Army respected and proud.”CDS S.O. Williams presented to the six spouses the Medals of Bravery and certificates to them and told them that the soldiers that were with their husbands in Somalia have contributed from their allowances to give them the sum of $1,554 each as their own way of showing gratitude to the wives.The wives received the packages and in tears said they are happy that the military is still thinking of them and the way they have treated them with respect. Sobbing somewhat uncontrollably, one of the widows said her husband loved the Army so much and he was happy to go and serve in Somalia to help.


Fears Al-Shabaab Is On The Verge Of Joining Forces With Islamic State

26 March – Source: ENCA – Video – 8:29 Minutes

There are fears that Somali insurgents al-Shabaab are on the verge of joining forces with the Islamic State. eNCA has obtained part of a new secret constitution written by a faction of the militant group.


Somali Entrepreneur To Launch Scheme To Ease Cash Transfer Fears

25 March – Source: Reuters – 425 Words

A Somali businessman is betting on a biometric fingerprint system to keep alive vital money transfer firms which face closure after Western banks cut ties due to fears remittance cash may be channelled to militant groups. Somalia’s leaders say the closure of money transfer companies would be disastrous for a nation where millions depend on remittances from family members abroad to buy food, pay for schools and set up businesses. Banks in the United States, Britain and elsewhere are increasingly wary of facilitating transfers to Somalia because of tighter regulations aimed at stopping cash reaching insurgent groups such as Islamist al Shabaab. Prominent entrepreneur Liban Egal plans to launch a technology in May to help remittance firms track transfers and identify who picks up the cash, using fingerprint, photo and other identification. “We are betting that if we show this system to a (foreign) bank and say ‘now we know who is sending the money’, then the risk assessment people (at the bank) might look twice,” he told Reuters on Thursday in Nairobi.

Egal, 45, is chairman of First Somali Bank (FSB), which was set up in 2012 but has yet to secure a full commercial banking licence from Somalia’s central bank. He also runs a technology and other firms. With very few Somalis owning passports, remittance firms use the traditional trust-based clan system to identify customers. But banks in the West say this informal system leaves them vulnerable to regulatory fines, as they cannot prove who exactly picks up the money inside Somalia. Egal’s biometric platform relies on a fist-sized fingerprint scanner, bought from a firm in India, and a CamelCash smartphone app that is owned and developed by FSB. Customers would have their photos, fingerprints and an image of any other form of identification stored via the app. Egal, who spent decades in the United States before returning to Mogadishu in 2011, said he had presented the idea to U.S. embassy staff in Nairobi, who were putting him in touch with U.S. Treasury officials. FSB will start using the technology in May at some hotels, shops and restaurants in Mogadishu. Egal said he plans to lease the system to remittance firms for a fee.”If they do not (buy) that, I’m willing to go all the way and open a money transfer company in the U.S. and showcase this to American banks,” Egal said, adding he was in talks with three U.S.-based firms facing closure due to transfer restrictions.

SOCIAL MEDIA

CULTURE / OPINION / EDITORIAL / ANALYSIS / BLOGS/ DISCUSSION BOARDS

“Using the SCOPE cards makes duplications impossible and gives us the assurance that our programmes reach exactly those people they are intended for…It also helps us better tailor or programmes to peoples’ needs by giving us valuable information about when people use the cards, what they buy with the money they receive and where they shop for food.”


Innovation In Somalia: Launch Of E-Transfer Cards In Bossaso

24 March – Source: WFP – 643 Words

The conference room bustles as 150 young people are chatting and giggling nervously. A sense of excitement fills the air. The youth – who come from internally displaced and other vulnerable families – are all enrolled in a vocational skills training programme implemented by WFP in partnership with the Norwegian Refugee Council in the port city of Bossaso, in Puntland, northern Somalia. The programme teaches the youth marketable skills like tailoring, tie-dying of clothes, carpentry or electronics, which will help them find jobs and earn sustainable incomes to support their families. Among the many young men and women in the audience is 22-year old Qadra. Wearing a long black robe and shiny headscarf, Qadra dressed up for the occasion. She is about to be among the first people in Somalia to receive the World Food Programme’s new electronic transfer card.

This was the scene at a ceremony in Bossaso on 11 February 2015, when Somalia became the second country worldwide (after Bangladesh) where WFP launched its innovative new assistance management platform, known as SCOPE. The SCOPE information system allows WFP to manage all its transfers – including in-kind food distributions in places where food is not available, as well as cash and voucher transfers in places where markets are functioning – electronically and in near real time. SCOPE also allows WFP to register beneficiaries, store information on the amount of food or money they are entitled to and – in the case of cash or vouchers – transfer the specific amount onto the cards. “These cards are the start of a new era for WFP’s assistance in Puntland,” said Puntland’s Minister of Interior Ahmed Elmi Osman. “For me, they are a social safety net that will give the beneficiaries the confidence that even in times of shocks, they will be able to meet their food needs and access assistance when they need it.”
http://www.wfp.org/stories/innovation-somalia-launch-e-transfer-cards-bossaso?

 

March 27, 2015 | Daily Monitoring Report.

Main Story

Fresh Clan Clashes In Deefow Locality

27 March – Source: Radio Goobjoog – 84 Words

Reports from Hiiraan region indicate that intense fighting reignited between two clan militias in Defoow locality. A local resident in that area told the media the fighting started at3am after militiamen, who were dislodged from the area, attacked the town in attempt to recapture it. The casualties of the both sides are not yet known as the fighting is still underway. The administration of Hiiraan region has not commented on the clan skirmishes.

Key Headlines

  • Fresh Clan Clashes In Deefow Locality (Radio Goobjoog)
  • IS Likely Trying To Add Al-Shabab To Its Ranks (Garowe Online/VOA)
  • Benadir Administration Reconstructs Hawo Asir-Fagah Road In Mogadishu (Radio Goobjoog)
  • Danish Police Arrest Two Over Plot Against Minister (Shabelle News)
  • Civil Society Groups Review Human Rights Progress In Somalia (Somali Current)
  • Ugandan Fighter’s Story Of Al Shabaab Somalia Camp (Chimp Reports)
  • Fencing Off Al-Shabab (Al-Ahram Weekly)
  • Top Shabaab Commander Captured (IOL News)
  • Rochester Ringleaders In Khat-Trafficking Sentenced (Democrat & Chronicle)
  • St. Cloud Business Leaders Learn About Somali Workforce (SC Times)
  • Kenya: Official Apology For Past Wrongs (New York Times)
  • Her Instagram Feed Finds The Fun In Long-Suffering Somalia (NPR)
  • A Fiery Dissenter Rethinks Her Views (NYT Live)

 

SOMALI MEDIA

IS Likely Trying To Add Al-Shabab To Its Ranks

27 March – Source: Garowe Online/VOA – 734 Words

Growing divisions within the leadership of the al-Shabab terror organization could soon push some, if not all, of the Somali-based outfit to pledge allegiance to the group known as the Islamic State. Intelligence officials and analysts have been closely watching a developing rift between al-Shabab’s senior leaders, long loyal to al-Qaida, and younger commanders who appear enticed by the propaganda of the Islamic State militants. Now that Nigeria’s Boko Haram has formally sided with the Islamic State group, there’s a feeling that at least part of al-Shabab could be next. “I think there’s a high chance that al-Shabab joins ISIS within the coming weeks or few months,” said the Jamestown Foundation’s Muhyadin Ahmed Roble, using one of several acronyms for the Islamic State militants. “Al-Qaida is not as influential and as powerful as it used to be and al-Shabab is trying to be the winning side.” Roble, a Nairobi-based analyst, speaking to VOA via Skype, says the lure of an alliance with the Islamic State has also been growing as older, more veteran al-Shabab leaders have been eliminated, often with the help of suspected U.S. drones. Drone strikes kill top leaders Most recently, U.S. defense officials confirmed U.S. drones targeted and killed Adan Ahmed Isak, also known as Adan Garaar. U.S. officials described Garaar as a member of al-Shabab’s intelligence and security wing who also helped plan the deadly 2013 attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya. A separate drone strike, in September 2014, killed al Shabab’s then-leader, Ahmed Godane.

“All these attacks, all these assassinations of the known al-Shabab leaders, have just given a chance to some junior officers who have, if you compare to the former, senior leaders, have a different thinking, a different ideology,” Roble said. Support encouraged  Some of the first public indications of the internal debate surfaced about a month ago, with the publication of a pamphlet encouraging al-Shabab members to support the Islamic State group. That pamphlet was followed by an audio message posted last week to YouTube by Sheikh Hassaan Hussein, a pro-al-Shabab cleric based in Kenya. During an 11-minute-long speech, Hussein told followers he no longer sees any religious grounds for opposing the Islamic State and its self-proclaimed caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. “Any emirate that opposes it is unlawful,” he said. Incentives to join  The extent to which the distribution of the pamphlet or the audio message may have been directed by the Islamic State militants is not clear. What appears certain, though, is that any schism within al-Shabab’s ranks would be welcomed by Islamic State leaders. “They clearly are going to make a play for al-Shabab,” said Daveed Gartenstein-Ross at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “Once Boko (Haram) flipped, that gave ISIL a much more powerful network in Africa,” he said, adding that Islamic State leaders clearly want to maintain the perception of momentum. And while Gartenstein-Ross doubts al-Shabab as a whole would abandon its pledge to al-Qaida, “sometimes, defections overwhelm the group.” More than sheer momentum could also be at stake. “Part of this is also not necessarily related to projecting a big image, but also part of their broader strategic war with al-Qaida itself and trying to siphon off al-Qaida supporters in different areas of the region to them, to then try to take out al-Qaida completely,” according to Aaron Zelin, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute.

Switching allegiances from al-Qaida to the Islamic State group, however, would require al-Shabab to reject ties first formed back in the 1990’s, when some al-Shabab members trained at al-Qaida camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan. And there are also doubts that current al-Shabab leader Ahmad Umar would ever consent to go along with a change. It is possible the Islamic State group may try to sweeten the deal with promises of financial support, a tactic that intelligence officials and analysts suspect helped cement the pledge of loyalty, or bayat, from Boko Haram. The Jamestown Foundation’s Roble also believes it may be impossible to underestimate the impact of foreign fighters, or lack thereof, on al-Shabab’s thinking. “Al-Shabab had been getting a lot of fighters from the West, U.S., Europe and the Middle East, all coming to join al-Shabab. But these days, even Somalis in the West are going to ISIS,” Roble said. “They’re not going to Somalia to join al-Shabab.


Benadir Administration Reconstructs Hawo Asir-Fagah Road In Mogadishu

27 March – Source: Radio Goobjoog – 113 Words

The administration of Benadir region has commenced a project to renovate Hawo Asir-Fagah road which hinders vehicles to access that area. The construction project will be implemented by the administration of Benadir region in collaboration with the residents of that area. The District Commissioner of Karaan, Ahmed Hassan Yalah’ow, said that the road which is very important for public transport will be completed soon. “This road, which will be [an] all-weather road is to be completed soon, and I urge the public take part in the ongoing initiatives to rebuild the district because no will decorate your house for you, therefore we have to unite,” Hay’ow said.


Danish Police Arrest Two Over Plot Against Minister

26 March – Source: Shabelle News – 235 Words

Danish police have arrested two men over planning an attack against the country’s defence minister, Nicolai Wammen, local media reported on Thursday. The two, of Somali and Pakistani origin, were detained when police on Wednesday searched a number of apartments in the Copenhagen area. They faced preliminary charges of planning an attack against Defence Minister Nicolai Wammen, daily Ekstra Bladet wrote. The tabloid said it had been in contact with one of the men, who were not being charged with terrorism but under a paragraph barring the “attacking or coercing of … the government or ministers.”

Both were released from custody on Thursday. Police declined to comment on the report, but lawyers Bjørn Elmquist and Andro Vrlic said they each had been asked to represent one of the suspects. Elmquist told AFP that since there had been no request for a custody hearing, which is required in Denmark to jail someone for more than 24 hours, the charges “maybe aren’t too serious”. The Danish defence minister has been under police protection since 22-year-old gunman Omar El-Hussein shot dead a filmmaker and an unarmed Jewish security guard outside a synagogue in twin attacks in the Danish capital on February 14 and 15. The Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET) began a probe a few weeks ago “based on observations around Nicolai Wammen and his residence,” Ekstra Bladet wrote.


Civil Society Groups Review Human Rights Progress In Somalia

26 March – Source: Somali Current – 483 Words

At least 27 representatives from civil society organizations, and human rights activists in Somalia concluded a two-day consultative workshop in Mogadishu on Tuesday, to review the human rights situation in Somalia and draft a report for the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland Somali civil society groups will submit their Universal Periodic Review (UPR) to the Council in June this year while the Federal Government will make their own submission in October 2015. The UPR process periodically assesses the human rights situation in the 193 UN member states. During the review process, the State parties are mandated to present human rights reports for review before the UN Human Rights Council. The United Nations Human Rights Council is set to review Somalia’s human rights situation in early 2016. The Council before the UN Human Rights is responsible for the global promotion and protection of human rights.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) is supporting Somali civil society prepare their report, which covers six thematic areas namely; women and children’s rights, rights of persons with disabilities, media rights and freedom of expression, civil and political rights, youth rights and humanitarian and development rights. UNSOM’s Human Rights Officer Muna Abuagla says that at the end of the consultative process, the civil society and human rights activists will put together a report that will be submitted to the UN Human Rights Council on 22 June, 2015. Abuagla said, “The UNSOM human rights section facilitates the consultation; but the consultation process is a Somali-led initiative by the Somali civil society organizations.” Mama Amina Hajj Elmi, the Executive Director of the non-governmental organization, Save Somali Women and Children (SSWC), described the civil society’s participation in the upcoming periodic review as important. She noted that the organizations play an important role in securing the rights of the war-affected populations in Somalia.

“It is very important because we want to share our concerns and our human rights evaluation with the rest of the world. It is where we can reach as civil society organizations, who are on the ground, we organized ourselves into six clusters, then went to the ground level, shared and collected the information. So we want to share the Somali situation with the rest of the world, in order to get support and intervention and in order to update the Somali situation concerning the human rights is. So it’s very important for us and the rest of the world,” she added. The chairperson of the Horn Africa Disability Forum (HADF) Abdullahi Hassan Husse also added his voice to the initiative saying, “We have drafted a report that we collected amongst the disabled people, the service providers, institutions, organizations and schools. We have combined all issues deeply concerning the rights of the persons with disability, socially and politically. These were eleven articles that we have compiled.”

REGIONAL MEDIA

Ugandan Fighter’s Story Of Al Shabaab Somalia Camp

27 March – Source: Chimp Reports – 501 Words

The trial of the 13 suspects accused of masterminding the July 2010 bomb attacks in which more than 70 people, who were watching football at Lugogo and Ethiopian restaurant in Kabalagala died, has continued at Kampala High Court. In the cross examination on Thursday, state witness Mohamoud Mugisha told court of how he had fled Rwanda in 1998 for fear of a possible outbreak of a genocide similar to that in 1994. According to Mugisha, he always heard on BBC and Radio Rwanda the Interahamwe fighters vowing to return to Rwanda and carry out another genocide which forced him to find ways of leaving his home country for a safer place. “I used part of my school fees to board a bus and later went to Nakivale refugee camp and it’s here that  I stayed until I came to Kampala as a grown up  man,” the 32-year old told court on Thursday afternoon.

Mugisha told court that he was born to Thomas Mugisha but while in Nakivale refugee camp, he became a Muslim and thus the name Mohamoud which he uses up to now. The witness told court that it was through his under-cover operations that he was able to get the passport which he uses up to now. Mugisha told court that after joining Al Shabaab group in Somalia, he discovered that one had to participate in the training camp’s activities to be confirmed as a member, adding there was no formal way of identifying good and wrong elements within f the group. “There was no way of identifying anyone who wanted to infiltrate them but whoever went to their camp automatically became a member. In the camp you were asked to present your proper documents to the leader and asked to drop your proper names for a pseudo name,” Mugisha told court “In the camp I was registered when I entered   and   adopted ‘Mohamoud’ as my pseudo name.  To prove that a member was loyal to the group, they had to go to the frontline and fight without retreating. The group also had a rule that whoever was caught trying to escape would be beheaded.”


Fencing Off Al-Shabab

26 March – Source: Al-Ahram Weekly – 739 Words

Kenyan authorities have decided to fence off part of its eastern borders, especially along the Lamu coastal region. The move comes after years of terrorist attacks by Al-Shabab, and growing calls to stop illegal immigration from its war-torn neighbour, Somalia. Lamu Governor Issa Timamy was pleased with the decision. Speaking to the pro-government newspaper Daily Nation, he said that the wall is expected to be finished before the end of the current year. “This is a good idea and we support it because we believe it will go a long way to secure this region, and indeed the country as a whole,” Timamy said. The Kenyan wall is expected to keep Somalis from infiltrating into the areas of Ishakani and Ras Kombani, where “immigrants have been arrested trying to cross into the country,” Timamy added. Many Kenyans welcomed the move, mostly because of concern over the increased persistence of Al-Shabab’s bloody campaign against their country. Since 2011, the insurgent Somali group has killed 400 people in Kenya and injured 1,000 others.

One of the most spectacular operations by Al-Shabab was in September 2013, when they seized the Westgate Shopping Centre in Nairobi, leading to a confrontation in which 67 people died. In November 2014, Al-Shabab attacked a bus near Nairobi, killing 28 civilians. A month later, the group brutally killed 36 Kenyans near the border. Kenyan journalist Mohamed Qassem attributes the successes of Al-Shabab to the indignation felt by the Muslim community after years of government neglect. Muslim Kenyans who fought within the ranks of jihadists abroad are coming home to set up their own militant outfits, according to Qassem. They often depict their conflict with the government as one between Islam and Christianity. According to US sources, Al-Shabab has recruited 60 Somali Americans to its ranks. The group may use these individuals to carry out attacks on the US, which has spent over $40 million to train Somali security services. A New York Times report notes that Al-Shabab managed to recruit Somali Americans through its social media activities, especially on Facebook. Not all Kenyans are thrilled about plans to wall off their northeast neighbour. Human rights groups voiced concern over the plan’s adverse implications for the inhabitants of border areas.

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA

Top Shabaab Commander Captured

27 March – Source: IOL News – 172 Words

A top commander of the Somali Islamist group al-Shabaab was captured Thursday as he was preparing attacks in the country’s capital, a senior intelligence officer said. The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said it was too early to name the commander, because investigations were still underway. He was captured with three other suspected al-Shabaab militants as security forces stormed their hideout in northern Mogadishu. Security forces seized weapons, explosives and ammunition. The commander is believed to have masterminded several suicide attacks or assassinations in Mogadishu over the past few months, the source said, declining to give more details. Government spokesman Ridwan Hagi Abdiwali confirmed that the four had been captured and said the government would soon release full information. Al-Shabaab issued no comment.


Rochester Ringleaders In Khat-Trafficking Sentenced

27 March – Source: Democrat & Chronicle – 580 Words

Three men, including two from Rochester, have been sentenced for their roles in a worldwide trafficking ring specializing in the distribution of khat, a stimulant common in Africa but unknown to many people in the United States. Pleading guilty to the charge of attempted operating as a major trafficker were Rochester residents Bayan Yusuf and Ahmed Adem, both 32. Yusuf and Adem were identified by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office as two of the three ringleaders in the scheme, which operated out of a public storage facility in the city, as well as storage facilities in Queens and Brooklyn. They will be sentenced to two years in state prison. Also pleading guilty was Yadeta Berki, 24, of the United Kingdom, who set up the trafficking ring.

Operating from Britain, China, Holland and Belgium, Berki used UPS to ship several tons of the plant to Yusuf and Adem since the ring began operating in October 2013. He will be sentenced to three years in state prison and will forfeit $150,000. Khat is generally grown in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, where it is legal. The plant’s leaves and stems are chewed for a high. “Many of the apparent users in the U.S. are people who have immigrated from places where it is common,” said Nick Benson, deputy press secretary in Schneiderman’s office. This is the first time that khat dealers have been sentenced in New York state. The three men were among 17 indicted last summer and charged with trafficking, criminal sale, criminal possession of a controlled substance, money laundering and conspiracy. The remaining 14 have been charged but have not yet gone to trial. They are mostly from Brooklyn and Queens, but three of the accused are from Rochester: Ali Saleh, 40; Mohamed Mohamed, 43; and Rumiya Osman, 31.


St. Cloud Business Leaders Learn About Somali Workforce

27 March – Source: SC Times – 517 Words

Members of the St. Cloud business community had the opportunity to learn about Somali culture and workforce at Thursday’s East African Presentation and Job Fair. The two-hour joint presentation by Language Bank Operations Manager Abdul Kulane and Stearns-Benton Employment and Training Council Director Kathy Zavala provided employers with basic knowledge about Somali people and tips on how to interact with this growing population. “This is a story of my family and Abdul’s,” said Zavala. “We had a very long and candid conversation about some of the hurtful things being said. And now we want that conversation to include you.” Zavala said the average annual labor force growth across the state is projected to remain stagnant for at least the next 20 years. This, coupled with the aging workforce in sectors such as transportation, utilities and manufacturing, have required many employers to seek out new talent. “The bottom line opportunity is immigrants are financial contributors, entrepreneurs, workers and consumers and help connect us to the world economy,” Zavala said.

Zavala said approximately 6 percent of people living in St. Cloud are foreign born, with over 25 percent of foreign-born citizens coming from Africa. “If you look at the demographics, we need to understand where our workforce is coming from and how they can contribute to our economy in order to sustain our community,” Zavala said. Kulane’s presentation highlighted some cultural and historical characteristics of the Somali community and how those can be used to benefit potential employers. “Some of us started working at 12 years old. Why? Because of our environment. It has been our history. And for that reason, Somalis get mature and take responsibility around 12 or 13 years old,” Kulane said. But, Kulane said, many Somalis face obstacles in getting through the door. “One thing I have seen is that employers are looking for American work history. That leaves out a big chunk of a job history out of a resume,” Kulane said.


Kenya: Official Apology For Past Wrongs

27 March – Source: New York Times – 158 Words

President Uhuru Kenyatta apologized on Thursday to the Kenyan people for past wrongs committed by his government and previous ones. In his state of the nation address, Mr. Kenyatta said the time had come for closure with respect to the country’s painful past. He mentioned post-election violence in 2007-8, the 1984 massacre of hundreds of Kenyan-Somalis, and unsolved murders, among other historical injustices. He asked the Finance Ministry to set up a $110 million fund to help repair the harm of government actions. Kenya’s Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission had urged Mr. Kenyatta to apologize to the public in 2013. Its report names him as being among those suspected of planning and financing the post-election violence in which more than 1,000 people died. The International Criminal Court recently dropped charges against Mr. Kenyatta, citing a lack of evidence, which it attributed to witness intimidation and lack of cooperation by Kenya’s government.

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“She’ll sometimes use the label #viewsfromthe252 — a tribute to Somalia’s dialing code and to rapper Drake’s album Views from the 6 (referring to his native Toronto’s “416” and “647” area codes). Among Boocow’s Instagram highlights are pictures of the “exquisite” ruins of Somalia — “it’s nostalgic for [Somalis] because they look at it and they say, ‘This was an edifice that was properly built. And now look at it, it’s just hauntingly beautiful.” She also features funny videos — monologues and skits in a mixture of Somali and English.”


Her Instagram Feed Finds The Fun In Long-Suffering Somalia

27 March – Source: NPR – 420 Words

Ugaaso Abukar Boocow has become an Instagram sensation by sending out stunning visual messages from an unlikely place: poor, suffering Somalia. She was just a toddler when her grandmother fled with her to Canada to escape Somalia’s Civil War, leaving her mother behind. Then last year, she decided to go back, moving to the capital, Mogadishu, and reuniting with her mother, whom she hadn’t seen in over two decades. And she didn’t want her relatives in North America to worry. “When I was posting these pictures, it was just to let my family back in Toronto know that, hey, I’m safe. It’s not, you know, all bad. It’s not all blood and gore,” she told Morning Edition’s Renee Montagne. It turns out that her family wasn’t the only audience.”I did not know that there were so many other people who were hungry for those positive pictures, those beautiful pictures, those random sometimes irrelevant pictures of everyday life in Somalia,” says Boocow, now 27. “So now it’s become a responsibility to continue showing the world the beauty Somalia is.”

Her Instagram feed — full of selfies, pictures of friends, the beach — has nearly 60,000 followers and shows a side of Somalia not often see in the media. She’ll sometimes use the label #viewsfromthe252 — a tribute to Somalia’s dialing code and to rapper Drake’s album Views from the 6 (referring to his native Toronto’s “416” and “647” area codes). Among Boocow’s Instagram highlights are pictures of the “exquisite” ruins of Somalia — “it’s nostalgic for [Somalis] because they look at it and they say, ‘This was an edifice that was properly built. And now look at it, it’s just hauntingly beautiful.” She also features funny videos — monologues and skits in a mixture of Somali and English. She says she uses humor to poke fun at old traditions. But she’s also carrying on the country’s tradition of storytelling via social media: “You need new forms to keep the old alive,” she says, “and that’s what I’m doing.” Reaction from Somalis has been positive. “I think they’re really surprised that a young woman who grew up in Canada can speak her language fluently,” she says, “so I am looked upon with awestruck faces and huge smiles.” She even gets recognized on the street: “I can tell you that I’m a prominent person in the city now. People actually get, you know, out of their seats to say ‘hi’ to me.”


“You can’t bomb bad ideas out of people’s heads. You can bomb the outfit, the organization in Iraq and Syria, and I’m confident that if we were really serious about this, we could eliminate ISIS. But that doesn’t eliminate Islamic extremism in all its forms. If you don’t eliminate Islamic extremism, when ISIS dies, you’re just going to have another organization like it. You have ISIS now, you have Boko Haram, Al Qaeda, Al Shabab, even Hamas. So an alphabet soup of organizations and movements, one more lethal than the other.”


A Fiery Dissenter Rethinks Her Views

25 March – Source: NYT Live – 4, 905 Words

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is Islam’s best known—her critics would say most incendiary—dissident in the West. Born in Somalia, she escaped an arranged marriage by seeking asylum in the Netherlands, where she studied furiously, assimilated with a vengeance, and became a member of the Dutch parliament. Her political views attracted scandal from the very start. She was blunt in her condemnation of Islam and Islamists, earning her the ire not just of the Muslim objects of her criticism, but also of a liberal political establishment that found her vehemently pro-Western views impossible to digest. Her life changed forever in November 2004: Theo Van Gogh, a Dutch filmmaker with whom she had collaborated on “Submission,” a film that excoriated the treatment of women in Islam, was stabbed to death in broad daylight by an Islamist assassin. Pinned by a knife to Van Gogh’s chest was a note that threatened Hirsi Ali with death. Not long after, she moved to the United States, where she now lives under round-the-clock protection.

Hirsi Ali is the author of four books, the most recent being Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now, published this week by HarperCollins. In it she divides the world’s Muslims into three groups: Medina Muslims, Mecca Muslims, and dissidents. Medina is the town where, in 622 AD, the prophet Mohammad was transformed into a warlike evangelizer: This first group comprises those who “see the forcible imposition of Shariah as their religious duty,” and “who prescribe death for the crime of apostasy, death by stoning for adultery and hanging for homosexuality. It is Medina Muslims who put women in burqas and beat them if they leave their homes alone or if they are improperly veiled.” In the second group are the vast majority of Muslims, people “who are loyal to the core creed and worship devoutly but are not inclined to practice violence.” Their religious beliefs “exist in an uneasy tension with modernity,” and so they are “engaged in a daily struggle to adhere to Islam in the context of a society that challenges their values and beliefs at every turn.”

Top tweets

@Oxfam  #Somalia‘s food security at risk, 40% Somalis rely on $1.3bn in remittances for survival http://ow.ly/KPVtu #SomaliLifeline @OxfamInSOM

@t_mcconnell: Look who’s back: pirates strike off #Somalia for first time in nearly 3 years http://yhoo.it/1HPaiKF

@MogadishuNews: The new terminal of #Mogadishu‘s international airport NOW is open. Thanks #Turkish president#Somalia

@RachelPiehJones: The Bookshelf: Books about #Somalia and by #Somalis http://ow.ly/KRIFA

‏@HizbawiM: #Eritrea: In Sept. 2014 alone more than 12,800 migrants flee from #Ethiopia & #Somalia and entered #Yemen,#UNHCRhttp://www.yementimes.com/en/1846/news/4746/17-Ethiopians-drown-off-Dhubab-coast-in-Taiz.htm …

@SharksMohamed: @Daudoo Now #Somalia is becoming the new Bahrain of Saudi Arabia

@warsameh: Diplomatic row is currently brewing between#Turkey & #China, another chance 4 #Somalia adventurism after #Sweden-#SaudiArabia debacle

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A shopkeeper serves a customer in the Somali capital Mogadishu. More and more businesses are now opening up as a result of continued peace and stability. #SomaliaRising. Photo: AMISOM