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France gives red carpet welcome to refugees relocated from Malta

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epa05758229 People gather for a protest at the International arrivals of Boston's Logan International Airport after people arriving from Muslim-majority countries were held at the border control as a result of the new executive order by US President Donald Trump in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, 28 January 2017. According to reports, thousands of people took part in the demonstration as people from countries on the suspension list were reportedly held at the airport. US federal judge issued an emergency stay for visa holders and refugees that have been detained at airports following US President Donald Trump's executive order, halting all refugee entry for 120 days and for 90 days bans entry from seven countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. EPA/JOHN CETRINO

Hargeisa, 14 July 2009 – A group of 92 people in need of international protection received the red carpet treatment at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris on Thursday, as they completed the last leg of a long and hazardous journey via Malta from their homes in Africa and Asia.

French Immigration Minister Eric Besson greeted the newcomers after they flew into a cloudy Paris on Thursday afternoon from sunny Malta. The group, including 20 children, was made up of people from various nationalities. More than half (57) were Somalis. There were also 18 Eritreans, nine Sudanese, three Ethiopians, three Sri Lankans and two people from Côte d’Ivoire.

“I wish you all the best in France. I wish you peace and happiness in your new life,” Besson told the new arrivals, whom France had agreed to accept from Malta as a gesture of European responsibility sharing and solidarity. “Your future starts here,” he added.

Every year hundreds of desperate migrants and asylum-seekers arrive in Malta, a tiny island nation of 400,000 inhabitants, after making the perilous boat trip across the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa. They have fled poverty, persecution or war.

To help Malta, the French government agreed to receive 96 people whom the Maltese authorities had given either refugee status or subsidiary protection. Of these, 92 arrived in Paris on Thursday, while the rest, an Iraqi family of four, will come at a later date.

“France is proud to be the European country that receives the most asylum-seekers,” Besson told journalists covering the arrival. “This not a case of immigration but of asylum, which is a completely different thing. To those chased out of their country by oppression, France will do everything necessary to integrate them.”

The minister also told the new arrivals about some of France’s core values, including liberty, equality and fraternity as well as religious tolerance and secularism. He said they were expected to do their best to become self-sufficient and integrate, particularly by learning French.

“It’s good to learn French to be able to communicate with people and find a job,” said Abdirisaaq, a 21-year-old man who fled Mogadishu in Somalia and made his way through Kenya, Sudan and Libya, before making the sea voyage to Malta. “Today, I feel as happy as the day that I was saved from the sea and touched land after fours days at sea,” he said.

After receiving refreshments and talking to officials and journalists, the group was taken by bus to collective centres in the towns of Nanterre, Poitiers, Créteil and Oissel, where they will stay until they find employment and accommodation.

Halimu, a Somali woman wearing white flowing robes and with henna patterns on her hands, said in fluent English before heading to an accommodation centre in Oissel: “I’m very happy because I will start my life again, improve my education and eventually reunite with my husband and children.”

UNHCR

Somaliland TV and The Bardaale Problem

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Hargeisa, 14 July 2009 (Somalilandpress) – The is no Somalilander, who is not angered over the loose Gov’t handling of the land problem. In th hitory of land Disputes, it had been customery for Governments to act immediately and put in place a lasting peace by ruling fairly on the problem in a way that every party had too be confronted with the truth and Administrative resources statements of Facts.

The Bardaale issue is one of the Gov’t set backs. This is not the first time such a verdict lands on one of the clans but there had been others too, on the same clan. It’s very unfortunate and highly regretable to learn, loss of Somalilanders lives in conflict, which should not have taken place at all if strict non bias on the spot solution would have been exercised by the Government at time.

l think , what Somali-land TV is doing in the public mobilization campeign of condemnations will only aggrevate the situation. like we said before , there will be no winner nor loser in an armed conflict between the two clans, who will only gain casuals weeping at both houses because they are like siamese twins interlocked, sharing blood!! We Somalilanders are all losers if we unjustifiably in law terms, meddle in issues that directly affect our National security Barriers. Though it had been one of our dark moments, Tribal Conflicts used to happen but non of those had made any of those tribes to Install a foreign flag at home, due to anger as has happened at Las-Anod and Borama!!

We have a Constitution rendered inactive and a law enforcement forces sadly unsanctioned rank to file. It is another leadership failure to serve the Country. With the World Human Rights Organization report released, this Government lead by Prsident Riyale, should see itself in that report, which is not published by a somlilander but the United Nations Human Rights Organization. I do advice Somaliland TV to correct itself and realize that they are for Somali-land and to teach the public constructively, not exaggerating mishaps and fishing in dirty waters.

The TV reports should be analytic, referential and very concrete in truth. Adopt to the Democratic World media principles and keep in mind that the TV is one of the three ways, the Ministry of Information teachs the Public therefor, you are obligated to be a good teaching unit. Let’s all participate in the cessation of that conflict and save any further deaths. Hargeisa TV should stop this filthy Bardaale politicization immediately as it will add fuel into the existing Fume.



Dr. Ali A. Mohamed


Views expressed in the opinion articles are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the editorial

All African Borders Rose from Colonial Borders

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Hargeisa, 14 July 2009 – The Somali Sections of VOA and BBC Radios sometimes hold political debates on Somaliland cause and its quest for diplomatic recognition. Some participants in the debates raise insincere arguments about the legitimacy of Somaliland national borders calling it “Colonial Borders.” These individuals are either ignorant of the historical origin of current borders of African States or purposefully mislead the listeners. The United Nations, African Union, and African States did not draw or make the current borders of African States. All the borders of African independent states had been drawn by the colonial powers of Europe in the 19th century, before or after The Partition of Africa in 1884, and the independence and recognition of each African State today depend upon its own colonial demarcations or borders. Likewise, all the borders of Asian and South American States also emerged from colonial boundaries drawn by Britain, France and Spain.

It is hypocritical that these anti-Somaliland debaters recognize the legitimacy of the border between Somaliland and Djibouti but challenge the legitimacy of the border running between Somalia and Somaliland knowing that both borders were drawn by colonial powers. The borders of Somalia, Somaliland and Djibouti have the same status and legitimacy because they were all drawn by European Colonizers. Most of such debaters are easily overwhelmed by unattainable ambitions for tribal state that does not exist in Africa or elsewhere and their denial of the legitimacy of Somaliland borders is completely in contrary to the historical realities of African borders. Anyone who opposes the legitimacy of Somaliland borders, its independence and its diplomatic recognition is challenging the borders and sovereignty of all African independent states (54 states) whose borders rose from their colonial borders or demarcations.

Some people confuse Somaliland with Puntland for either ignorance or for futile political reasons. Puntland is an integral part of Somalia because it is located within Somalias colonial borders (Italian-drawn borders) with which Somalia achieved independence on July 1st, 1960 and shares people and history with Somalia. Unlike Somaliland Republic, which has the rightful claim of independence and recognition for having its own, unique colonial borders with which it achieved independence and diplomatic recognition on June 26, 1960, Puntland can not be recognized as independent state because it is part of Somalia and because it does not have its own and unique colonial borders that promote independence and recognition in Africa, but it can be federal region within Somalia. If tribal boundaries or tribal states were recognized in Africa, the whole continent would collapse and be plunged into endless, devastating clan wars. That is why the Organization of African Unity solemnly declared in 1964 that all member states pledge themselves to respect the borders existing on their achievement of national independence. Here the borders existing on their achievement of national independence are the colonial borders on which Somaliland achieved independence on June 26, 1960. Another point to make, Somaliland Republic can not let Puntland Administration integrate with it because that would violate Somalias sovereignty and borders.

Somaliland was the first of the five-Somali territories to achieve independence from the British Empire on June 26, 1960 based on its existing borders and, before the merger with Somalia on July 1st, 1960, the first Somali country to be recognized by the UN and 35 member nations immediately after independence like the rest of African States. Independent Somaliland was also the first to pioneer the unification between Somaliland and Somalia in quest for Greater Somalia in the Horn of Africa. The union was doomed after Somalia hijacked the governments for the thirty years of its existence (1960-1990) and then committed atrocities against Somaliland people when they rebelled against injustices perpetrated by Somalia. Injustices and atrocities were the major causes that forced Somaliland people to withdraw from the union with Somalia in 1991. The failure of the union does not alter or change the status of Somaliland for claiming legitimate borders, independence and diplomatic recognition.

The Somaliland Congress held in Burao on May 18, 1991 unanimously proclaimed the withdrawal of the Somaliland from the union with Somalia and reclaimed its independence of June 26, 1960 renaming itself: Somaliland Republic. The referendum held in Somaliland on May 31st, 2001 reaffirmed Somaliland sovereignty from Somalia. Somaliland is not a secessionist or a breakaway region from Somalia as anti-Somaliland groups would like to portray it. It just withdrew from the union it joined as an independent state on July 1st, 1960 after it failed in the hands of Somalia. Djibouti, Somaliland and Somalia have the same status and legitimacy for independence and diplomatic recognition.

Somaliland and Somalia are not the first two countries in this world whose union ceased to exist. The Soviet Union of 15 Socialist Republics and created by the Bolshevik Revolution led by Vladimir Lenin in 1917 broke up after social upheavals with deep political discontent and came to an end peacefully in 1989 with new countries emerging from it such as Georgia, Ukraine, Armenia, Uzbekistan, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia etc. They are all recognized by the UN and international community on the basis of their original borders existing before the union. The federation of former Yugoslavia that had 8 countries broke up after bloody civil wars (1991-1995) and new countries such as Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Slovenia, Kosovo etc emerged from its ashes. All are recognized diplomatically too for their original borders existing before the federation. This shows that the unity among countries in a union is not sacred if they disagree but the unity within a country like Somaliland, Djibouti, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda etc is sacred because each country is bound together by its own national borders inherited from colonial powers.

Some Somalis believe that Somaliland should not withdraw from the union with Somalia claiming that all Somalis share language, religion, color, and culture. If this claim were true, the Arab World (Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Sudan) which has 17 separate independent countries with the same language, religion, color, and culture would have one union today. They do not have any federal union for disagreeing to share one. Over 14 South American countries (Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Nicaragua, El Salvador etc) also share religion (Catholic Church), language (Spanish), culture, and color but they are not required to share union. Sharing language, religion, color, and culture is not convincing factors to share or remain in a union. Justice and fair power-sharing are the most important factors for a union to survive and that is what Somalia failed to understand in the years of the union. Islamic religion commends unity for enhancing strength and power but does not support one that brings death and destruction upon its partners like Somalia did to Somaliland in the decade of 1980-1990, particularly in the years 1988, 1989 and 1990. “Greater Somalia” is like “Greater Arab World” or “Greater South America” which no one knows when such dreams will come true. Some other Somalis believe that only Somaliland and Somalia constitute “Greater Somalia” excluding Djibouti and the occupied territories for opportunistic reasons. Somaliland will not be an easy target again as in the years of the old union.

The occupied Somali territories are of different case. For being a devout Christian Kingdom, Ethiopia survived the European colonization and with the European approval and military support, it annexed the far Western Somalia in 1889 that includes Diridhaba, Harar, Hawas etc. The near region of Western Somalia, which is Hawd and Reserved Area, was colonized with Somaliland and then amalgamated to Ethiopia in 1954 by the Britain. The Somali Northeastern Region (N.F.D) was colonized by Britain too then amalgamated to Kenya in 1963 by Britain. Ethiopia and Kenyan governments are black colonizers in the Horn of Africa today. The peoples of these two regions have the right to struggle for their self-determination.

The place is Africa where tribalism and localism are more important than nationalism and patriotism and where democracy, fair elections, and rule of law are not respected. Chronic tribalism, brutal dictatorships and crippling corruptions are common and normal practice of the day. Any federal government can be easily overthrown at any time by military coups, just like General Siad Barre did in 1969, with the immediate dissolution of elected parliament and constitution. No one can guarantee that this will not happen again in restive Africa. Neither Somaliland people nor the people of Somalia can afford to have another risky union that leads them to another military brutal dictatorship or to a government led by a despot turned-elected president that plunges both peoples into other violent, atrocious civil wars. After the departure of colonial powers from Africa (Between 1950-1970), it fell to brutal African dictators and leaders who killed all hopes and aspirations of African masses that liberated it from Europe, and there is no light at the end of the tunnel yet. Because of the past painful experiences, peoples of Somaliland and Somalia need to have separate, safe, prosperous sisterly states with mutual relations like the Arab countries. Both nations must reject blind patriotism for “Greater Somalia” which is not practical today.

Somaliland Republic will only discuss future relations with a government of Somalia (Former Italian Territory) which is democratically elected and which represents and controls the entire people and territory of Somalia. Somaliland will not meet with a government or parliament that includes individuals claiming to represent Somaliland. Any meeting or discussions with Somalia without fulfilling these two conditions would violate the basics of Somaliland`s sovereignty.

Somaliland, as any African state, has the right to be diplomatically recognized by the United Nations and international community for its current borders that rose from colonial borders. If the African countries do not recognize Somaliland Republic for its own colonial borders as soon as possible, they should know that they put their statehood and sovereignty based on their colonial borders in question. For faster diplomatic recognition, Somaliland needs good governance and fair elections held on time. Somaliland people do not bow to external threats or give up their sovereignty for outside pressure.


Ibrahim Hassan Gagale
Email: ibrahim_hg@yahoo.com
Date: July 14, 2009


Views expressed in the opinion articles are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the editorial

Somaliland: Fragile Democracy Under Threat

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Hargeisa, 13 July 2009 – The Somaliland government’s disregard for the law and democratic processes threatens the territory’s nascent democracy, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The administration of President Dahir Riyale Kahin has committed human rights violations and generated a dangerous electoral crisis.

The 56-page report, “‘Hostages to Peace’: Threats to Human Rights and Democracy in Somaliland,” says that Somaliland’s government has helped create a measure of stability and democratic governance even as Somalia has remained mired in armed conflict. But Somaliland’s gains are fragile and currently under threat. The administration of President Riyale has regularly flouted Somaliland’s laws and has twice delayed elections that were originally scheduled for April 2008, through processes of questionable legality. A further delay of elections, now slated for September 2009, could prove disastrous for democratic rule in Somaliland.

“Somaliland has spent 18 years trying to build stability and democracy, but all its gains are at risk if the government continues to undermine the rule of law,” said Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The electoral crisis has laid bare the need to create functioning government institutions that will respect human rights.”

The Human Rights Watch report is based primarily on a two week visit to Somaliland in March 2009 in which researchers interviewed government officials, opposition leaders, civil society activists, local analysts, and victims of human rights abuses.

Somaliland declared its independence from Somalia in 1991 after the demise of Somalia’s last functioning government. No country has recognized Somaliland’s claim of statehood. Human Rights Watch takes no position on whether Somaliland should be internationally recognized as an independent country. But international actors should engage more deeply with Somaliland, press Somaliland’s government to respect human rights and the territory’s emerging democratic norms, and provide assistance tailored to bolster key government institutions, the media, and civil society.

In recent years the Riyale administration has regularly treated the opposition-controlled legislature as an irritant, refusing to respect its role in the legislative process or in overseeing opaque government expenditures. Little has been done to build the capacity of the nominally independent judiciary; the lower courts are often incapable of applying the law while the Supreme Court has acted as though it is entirely beholden to the president.

Government actions in violation of domestic and international law have directly infringed upon the rights of Somalilanders, Human Rights Watch said. The Riyale administration has circumvented the courts and trampled on the rights of criminal defendants by relying on “security committees” that are entirely under the control of the executive and that have no legal basis under Somaliland law. The security committees sentence and imprison Somalilanders, including people accused of common crimes and juveniles, without any pretense of due process. They regularly sentence defendants en masse on the basis of little or no evidence after truncated hearings in which the accused are given no right to speak. When Human Rights Watch visited Mandhera prison outside of Hargeisa in March, over half of the prisoners there had been sentenced by the security committees, not the courts.

The government has also engaged in other repressive practices that are common in the region, but relatively rare in Somaliland. A former driver for the president’s family was imprisoned after publicly accusing the first family of corruption, and only released after photos surfaced of the man lying shackled to a hospital bed, gravely ill. The leaders of a dissident political association called Qaran, which challenged the existing three parties’ legal monopoly of electoral politics, were sentenced to prison terms and banned from political activity, though they were released before serving their full terms. And Somaliland’s leading independent human rights group was dismantled during a leadership struggle in which government officials blatantly intervened.

But patterns of low-level harassment targeting journalists, opposition activists, and others are the most common. On numerous occasions government officials have detained, usually for brief periods, individuals who have publicly criticized the government or provided press coverage deemed to be unfavorable.

Somaliland’s precarious situation in the region has deterred Somalilanders from protesting loudly when their rights are abused for fear of damaging their territory’s hard-won stability and its quest for international recognition. Many people told Human Rights Watch that they are effectively “hostages to peace” – unable to confront Somaliland’s deepest problems effectively for fear of upsetting the fragile balance that has kept the territory from going the way of Somalia and other countries in the region.

The repeated delay of Somaliland’s presidential election threatens the foundations of its emerging democratic system. President Riyale has twice been granted lengthy extensions of his term by Somaliland’s unelected House of Elders. The election is currently scheduled for September 29, but there is considerable uncertainty whether it will take place and under what circumstances.

“Somaliland is at a dangerous crossroads,” Gagnon said. “Eighteen years of progress towards democratic governance and general respect for human rights will either be consolidated or endangered, depending on President Riyale’s next moves.”

Human Rights Watch

Somaliland: Bardaale hostility not distinguished within the next 24 hrs, we are two steps away from anarchy ! !

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Hargeisa, 13 July 2009 – It’s absolutely an orchestrated political flaw, that the Government couldn’t honour the Gurti Jurisdiction ruling on the Disputed Bardaale land issue between the fighting two clans of Gabiley and Borama. With president Riyale refusing to sign the International Donors proposed Election code of conduct to free and fare elections, failure also to use his executive order to execute the judgement issued by the Gurti sub-committee on security over this issue, which has been ruled for the Gabileh
Clan, plus the issue of Ga’an Libax District, Hargeisa, where, a land dispute is about to detonate between a member of parliament and some residents of that District, where some two-hundred of the Police is said to have been dispatched to guard it, while foreced construction is being erected.

All those events, pour into one issue of security distabilation by the highest authority of the state, the end product of which is to rule out election and to set a false endangered National Security , to justify an imaginative extension of Mandate for President, which is not impossible but highly dangerous to by-pass the degree of fatalities at Mogadishio, because of anger and Dismay if it’s attmpted!!

Mr. Riyale though aware of the repercussions seem to be opting for unbelievably, a game he shall never win. Becuse of his Eight years of Distructive Polices and nothing done for the People of Somaliland or the re-construction of the county, it’s impossible for him to be given another apportunity to further Distructions.

When it comes to leadership and delegation of Authority, he proved to be incompetant on the witness of his Vice President at an interview, recently at Hargeisa Cable T/V station, where his excilleny, Sheikh Ahmed yussuf Yassin, confessed to a corruption that marred every Gov’t Institution at it’s highest ranks,which he discribed irreversible and uncontrollable. This alone is a proof of his failure as head of an state to be denied for a second term.

For the last couple of Months , people at home have been watching a mass exodus of UDUB ex-supporters, joining other opposition Parties, Kulmiye in Particular. The president’s last visit at the Eastern Regions , Particularly Burao and it’s Districts and Sahel Region had darkened his hopes for another hat-trick Play to stick to power!! It’s as bright as a sun, in the Middle of the day, this Administration has done alot of damage at every level of governance, be it Education, Developement, Finance, Public Service, Information , Culture, Health and National pride and deserve not only to be booted to be subjected to law and made accountable to several crimes committed in the name of the law!!

In conclusion, Somaliland is two steps away from anarchy, if the fumes generating from Bardaale not distinguished within 24 hrs, expect a hell fire that may engulf the Region, where other external forces will be lured to join!! It’s solely in the Gov’t hands to avert this gloomy picture simply by exercising the rule of law and executing, the 5th ruling on the same President Clan and in-laws. World elites should follow this issue very closely and should witness this aggression there after.

Dr. Ali A. Mohamed


Views expressed in the opinion articles are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the editorial

Somaliland Election’s Formidable Challenges: Terrorism, Tribalism

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Hargeisa, 13 July 2009-Evidently, Somaliland faces both internal and external diabolical traps—insidious booby traps. Both powerful and treacherous, terrorism and tribalism will not only derail the upcoming presidential election but will also evaporate the hope of winning recognition after the September 2009 successful election. As terrorism takes its toll on innocent civilians and tribal feuds rage unabated in Gibbilley region, fear and apprehension creep into the minds of many citizens. Fearful and uncertain about the future, many citizens question the authority’s response to simmering conflicts on the verge of erupting like volcanoes but rarely receive answers.

First, always give credit where credit is due. That is, the Somaliland government deserves a pat on the back when it comes to defending the country from invaders. Time and time again, our armed forces cripple the invading Puntland militias. For instance, Somaliland forces round up hundreds of Puntland militias like wild horses.

More important, Somaliland intelligent agencies repeatedly snatch terrorists from their dens and foil sophisticated terrorist attacks. In the end, many of them face justice and go to trials.

Second, the government’s iron-fist rule—far from condoned—resembles an autocratic system. For example, Somaliland police forces do an astounding job to arrest, harass, and disperse opposition party supporters who venomously protest against election scandals.

Similarly, the authority knows what every single journalist in the country is up to, and barely before the public reads his/her provocative article that expose corruptions and mismanagements the author is already having a picnic inside the notorious Mandheera prison near Berbera city, in Somaliland.

Third, the authority has a powerful eavesdropping program that will transmit to its Criminal Investigation Department’s CID headquarters the slightest whispers from phone conversations between local citizens. Additionally, the government knows before Somaliland Diasporas arrive to the country and when they depart.

Sophisticate system, isn’t? So sophisticated that in fact the system fails miserably to stamp out local land disputes in the farming Gibbilley region in which a handful of gangs are now terrorizing the communities in that area at will. Land disputes are part of the norm in Africa. But why the government of Somaliland could not crush these tribal gangs hacking innocent civilians to death right under its nose is the question that every Somaliland citizen is asking.

Somaliland government could round up hundreds of heavily-armed Puntland militias with very little bloodshed, and so could Hargeisa (Somaliland capital) crush these tribal thugs spurring mayhem in the country. Or is there is more to the conflict than we know?

Conspiracy theory 101 indicates that the government of Somaliland may be ignoring the tribal feuds and hoping they will brew up into a full-scale ware. And once the Hutus and Tutsis of Gibbilley region go on wild rampage and slaughter one another, the government will have no choice but postpone the upcoming presidential election for the fifth time.

Equally dangerous: terrorism—a curse as well as a blessing in disguise for brutal regimes in the world—may play its roll in the possible upcoming election fiasco. In the last election delays, as predicted Somaliland used the terrorist attacks in October 2008 as one of the reasons for the delays.

Now, in the recent terrorist attacks against four well-respected business men from Awdal regions bordering Gibbilley, Alshabaab terrorists could be the culprits or at least they may have encouraged some revengeful locals to carry out the shocking murder. The heartless killings rightly infuriated the Somaliland population in general and in particularly those in Awdal region. Again, the government may drag its feet to capture the murderers, and such a lack of quick action could provoke revenges from the victims’ tribes which could lead to a full-scale tribal skirmishing. So, again the government will have a choice to delay the election.

As shown in the following link, outraged Awdal people, some even waving Somali flag, not Somaliland’s, because they lost faith in Somaliland government took to the streets of Boorame city, Awdal provincial capital. Such Somali flag-waving protesters in the heart of Somaliland territory may give Alshabaab the boost that it needs and more terror attacks may be impending. http://hiiraan.com/news/2009/July/wararka_maanta12-6965.htm (Also read about Somali MPs flocking to Somaliland freely: http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/109651)

Surely, the government signed a treaty with the local elders to diffuse the conflict, but what about putting a leash on the thugs that have been terrorizing the farming communities of Gibbilley and its environs. The government must crush these murderers from both warring tribes, and those found guilt should face justice immediately.

Whether Somaliland perceives the dangerous mixture of tribalism and terrorism or not, one thing is indisputable: if land disputes are not resolved and murderers aren’t brought to justices before September 2009—in two months time—election will be postponed.

Similarly, the opposition parties will—understandably—scream their lungs out. Their supporters could take to the streets with massive protests. Hence, normally peaceful streets of Somaliland cities could turn into a battle ground.

And even if the election is not delayed, terrorists could exploit the tragedy—the tribal feuds—in Gibbilley and send voters’ limbs flying over rooftops, and of course blame local tribes.

To top it up, the long-waited Somaliland recognition which many people hope that after fair and transparent election, the nation will be on the verge of receiving a full diplomatic recognition faces uncertainty.

Therefore, the government of Somaliland unless its part of the conspiracy—raging tribal feuds—to derail the election, must crush the local machete-wielding thugs mercilessly and maintain law and order through Gibbilley region.

Dalmar Kaahin
dalmar_k@yahoo.com

Rayale, Please Steer Straight

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Hargeisa, 13 July 2009 – “Please, steer straight.” This was the most frequent phrase of my driving teacher, I remember him as I had felt that he has overused and repeated; “why doesn’t he find another phrase to avoid this overuse,” I thought as I had run down the way of a busy highway.

I think that is enough of an excuse for the repetition of this word for president Rayale as I had read very similar words on the news pouring from the pens of Somaliland citizens and intellects–all sharing the unique hope that he might get well along with their messages and perhaps steer the poor nation towards peace, prosperity, education, and to a freer world that they deserve.

Please, Mr. President, I say it for the last time, let the people enjoy their rights, let their voices be heard, let them compete with the rest of the world, let them device their mechanics and administer themselves, let them captivate and appeal to their future, let them enchant and induce for themselves the recognition you failed, let them be in the driver’s seat that you have been so long fruitless.

With these words above, I am not reproaching or denouncing of Rayale’s achievements and all his well beings, but as a Somaliland citizen I here by address that our beloved president had made some degrading mistakes that will be very difficult to recover during his long term of presidency. From the issue of not securing the nations’s territories, to the larger and current ever-growing government spending habits and corrupted policies that resulted less or no social works and essentials that his administration introduced, to an extreme indulgence, injustice, unethicalness of land dispute, to an increeasing effects of deforestation and environmental erosion, and less water implementations with chunks of the public already dying for thirsty; the list is endless with an adversity of ailing economy, widespread famine and starvation. And now, he is here agian seeking re-election! shameful and embarrasing it is for him and for the larger honorable family he is from, and most importantly for the so called democratic party of UDUB, it is beyond contempt for a leader with a record of that failings to stand again for re-election.

Indeed, he has some bright pages in history, he is the first democratically elected president of Somaliliand and to this he is one of the founding fathers of this nation, he had organized and bestowed several elections in a politically unsettled region, showed a policy of patience and much more. But, honestly it is his failings that exceed his success, and better to quit this time. I solemnly support him to move, move to elitism, just out of politics and watch, just let the realm select who they think is best for them, who they can entrust their lives and their children’s lives.

In the other hand, I do believe rough political environment of Somaliland doesn’t utterly fall into Rayale’s responsibilities, but to the contrary there are some deep rooted, fundamental origins planted deep by the mass groups of politicians and the upper administrational personnel that firstly introduced the existence of free Somaliland from the war torn southern Somalia. It is obvious that they owe us for distinguishing and saving our people from the intense animosity and man slaughter of the south of Somalia. It is the unschooled, uneducated administrational bodies that dominate our two-house parliament, ministry cabinet, and the entire political atomsphere.

It is due to the clan-based shares of positions that resulted to appoint ignorant, illiterate laymen to positions such as planning, commerce, finance, education, health and labor that would otherwise being in the hands of the freshest, highly educated brains that are wide awake and keenly vigilant of the world affairs and international community: those indeed deserve to pertain such fields. There should have been strict rules in the constitution measuring a candidate’s educational qualifications, experience, and personality. With this type of qualified political atomsphere we might have achieved for what we had failed for so many years, sure by this time we might have enjoyed the sweet sense of success and achievement.

And to those governing bodies who do not understand even the slightest meaning of administration, I say, governance is not to coin large sums of cash but to work for the well being of the societies, for the triumphing of communities that are well below your rule.
Today, the population is not in need of your help in terms of governmental administration, you are not in need in these fields that you fill in crowds such as the parliament, ministries, and agencies of the state. Dear fathers, and fellows you are not in the right path, perhaps your are lost. You are supposed to help in the times of disputes, and reconciliation…….you dare not hold postions you don’t have the slightest ideas or expertise of how to manage and run. You are already failures in more than a dozen times. No reason you be there anymore.

Somaliland needs some new faces, someone that has never been in the somali politics for the last forty years, someone capable of preserving and recreating their integrity, someone who is able attaining goals, and winning hearts of the public so that they can entrust him/her the burden of their leadership. We need a president that can designate the beams of democracy into the holes of the region, a president that is himself/herself an indication of democracy.

Hassan Deri,
xasan008@hotmail.com


Views expressed in the opinion articles are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the editorial

Donors Should Treat The Disabled Equally

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Hargeisa, 12 July 2009  – Dissatisfied with donors’ unwillingness to promote disabled people’s rights in their dealings with Kenyan organisations, Phitalis Were Masakhwe calls on international funders to show greater scrutiny when it comes giving financial assistance. From women’s rights to promoting multi-party democracy, carrot-and-stick policies have been central in forcing Kenya to reform, Were Masakhwe notes, arguing that they should occupy an equally central role in cementing equality for disabled people.

In the early 1990s it took the intervention of the international community to break Kenya’s one-party authoritarianism and open the door for plural politics and enhanced respect for human rights in the country. The powerful networks of Kenya’s development partners forced the regime of former President Daniel arap Moi to reform and expand the democratic space. It was reform or no development assistance, period! That is the power and leverage development partners can bring to struggling economies like ours.

A couple of years back, phrases like ‘gender mainstreaming’ didn’t mean anything to the government and even NGOs’ leadership in Kenya – not until the donors flexed their muscles. Child rights, human rights, democracy and the environment are just some of the globally accepted themes and values that were ‘forced’ on our government and civil society. Today neither government nor civil society organisations can submit a bid to say the US’ USAID (United States Agency for International Development), the UK’s DfID (Department for International Development), Sweden’s SIDA (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) or Canada’s CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency) without evidently reflecting gender concerns. Certainly no donor that I know of will disburse money to either a government or NGO programme if that support will promote or perpetuate child abuse.

And where those seeking donor funding ignore those universally agreed agendas, donors reject these proposals or they are sent back for review to reflect these concerns. The inclusion of doctrines like gender parity is not therefore a matter of choice for anybody; it is a matter of life and death! Amazingly, I have not come across a donor that has rejected a request for funding on the grounds that it has not included disability concerns or not shown the extend to which the proposed project will impact on children, women and men with disabilities. Why? The majority of these same donors have fancy statements on disability equality on their websites and foreign policy pronouncements! It is high time donors walked the walk on the principle of disability equality in their interaction with governments, UN agencies and civil society in general.

The British, Swedish, German, Italian, Japanese or US governments for instance cannot allow inaccessible public transport on their highways. They can’t allow discrimination in education and employment opportunities with regard to the disabled! How then can they give their cooperation, funding and technical assistance to countries like Kenya to be used exclusively or to perpetuate inequality and marginalisation? Shouldn’t their friendship with countries like Kenya include spreading the gospel of disability inclusion and equality as it is done in their own countries? Shouldn’t it include broadening human rights and governance to include all the disabled?

Through acts of omission and commission, Kenya has not yet created nor maintained decent conditions for those with disabilities.

Reflect on free primary education, healthcare, HIV/AIDS, social protection and related poverty eradication schemes, human rights, judicial, institutional and constitutional reforms including infrastructure developments which are heavily subsidised by donors. How accessible and inclusive are these programmes?
Do the donors bother to make sure that they are inclusive and accessible to all, including the disabled? If not, why not place conditionalities that will force the disability agenda onto and within those programmes? Why apply conditionalities thinly and exclusively?

Article 32 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities clearly deals with this issue:

‘States Parties recognize the importance of international cooperation and its promotion, in support of national efforts for the realization of the purpose and objectives of the present convention, and will undertake appropriate and effective measures in this regard, between and among States and, as appropriate, in partnership with relevant international and regional organizations and civil society, in particular organizations of persons with disabilities.’

This should be applied through ensuring that international cooperation, including international development programmes, is inclusive of and accessible to persons with disabilities. This can be done by supporting capacity-building, including through the exchange and sharing of information, experiences, training programmes and best practices. Others approaches should include facilitating cooperation in research and access to scientific and technical knowledge and providing, as appropriate, technical and economic assistance, including by facilitating access to and sharing of accessible and assistive technologies, and through the transfer of technologies.

A quick walk into the offices of any of the major development partners in Kenya will find desks and advisors on virtually everything under the sun, except disability! How can that be tolerated in this era and age when disability affects more than 3 million Kenyans?

The carrot-and-stick policy by donors has helped reform Kenya. It has helped lift women out of obscurity to cabinet boardrooms. It can surely and firmly apply to give the disabled greater visibility and consideration in the country’s socio-economic and political landscape.

Development partners in Kenya must be part of the solution to the problems bedevilling the disabled population and not part of the problem as their current silence and lack of tangible actions seems to suggest.

The time to practice disability equality in international cooperation with Kenya is now.

Source: Pambazuka

Borama Residents Demonstrate Against Killing of Four People

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Hargeisa, 12 July 2009  – Hundreds of Borama residents demonstrated today in the city center condemning the killing of four businessmen yesterday.

Unknown armed militia ambushed the road between Gebiley and Borama yesterday night killing four people including a well-known businessman on his way to Borama. The deceased were all hailing from Borama. The militia also kidnapped Seven other persons in the area to unknown areas of the region.

Prominent figures from Borama called the government to take strong action against those criminals who do not belong to any clan. Sh. Abdillahi Sh. Ali Jowhar, a religious leader in Borama said those criminals should face the justice and should not be forgiven for their barbaric action against civilians. He called Borama residents not to carry out any revenge against those who are living in the city from the other regions. He said this action has nothing to do with the land dispute between the two sub-clans in Elbardale, in Gebiley district.

The police shot several bullets in the air to disperse the demonstrators after they stormed government offices with stones damaging some properties in the city. No casualties have been reported so far.

On the other hand, Somaliland forces arrested at least 8 persons after skirmishes took place in Elbardale this morning. The police is now stationed in the middle of the conflicted area between the two sub-clans who reside in the area.


Somalilandpress.com

A Call to Jihad From Somalia, Answered in America

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Al-Shabaab’s first attack on Kenyan soil was in 2008. Since then the Kenyan government has responded with force. United Nations Photo/Flickr
Al-Shabaab’s first attack on Kenyan soil was in 2008. Since then the Kenyan government has responded with force. United Nations Photo/Flickr

Hargeisa, 12 July 2009- MINNEAPOLIS — The Carlson School of Management rises from the asphalt like a monument to capitalist ambition. Stock prices race across an electronic ticker near a sleek entrance and the atrium soars skyward, as if lifting the aspirations of its students. The school’s plucky motto is “Nowhere but here.”

For a group of students who often met at the school, on the University of Minnesota campus, those words seemed especially fitting. They had fled Somalia as small boys, escaping a catastrophic civil war. They came of age as refugees in Minneapolis, embracing basketball and the prom, hip-hop and the Mall of America. By the time they reached college, their dreams seemed within grasp: one planned to become a doctor; another, an entrepreneur.

But last year, in a study room on the first floor of Carlson, the men turned their energies to a different enterprise.

“Why are we sitting around in America, doing nothing for our people?” one of the men, Mohamoud Hassan, a skinny 23-year-old engineering major, pressed his friends.

In November, Mr. Hassan and two other students dropped out of college and left for Somalia, the homeland they barely knew. Word soon spread that they had joined the Shabaab, a militant Islamist group aligned with Al Qaeda that is fighting to overthrow the fragile Somali government.

The students are among more than 20 young Americans who are the focus of what may be the most significant domestic terrorism investigation since Sept. 11. One of the men, Shirwa Ahmed, blew himself up in Somalia in October, becoming the first known American suicide bomber. The director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Robert M. Mueller, has said Mr. Ahmed was “radicalized in his hometown in Minnesota.”

An examination by The New York Times, based on interviews with close friends and relatives of the men, law enforcement officials and lawyers, as well as access to live phone calls and Facebook messages between the men and their friends in the United States, reveals how a far-flung jihadist movement found a foothold in America’s heartland.

The men appear to have been motivated by a complex mix of politics and faith, and their communications show how some are trying to recruit other young Americans to their cause.

The case represents the largest group of American citizens suspected of joining an extremist movement affiliated with Al Qaeda. Although friends say the men have never thought of carrying out attacks in the United States, F.B.I. officials worry that with their training, ideology and American passports, there is a real danger that they could.

“This case is unlike anything we have encountered,” said Ralph S. Boelter, the special agent in charge of the F.B.I.’s Minneapolis office, which is leading the investigation.

Most of the men are Somali refugees who left the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul in two waves, starting in late 2007. While religious devotion may have predisposed them to sympathize with the Islamist cause in Somalia, it took a major geopolitical event — the Ethiopian invasion of their homeland in 2006 — to spur them to join what they saw as a legitimate resistance movement, said friends of the men.

For many of the men, the path to Somalia offered something personal as well — a sense of adventure, purpose and even renewal. In the first wave of Somalis who left were men whose uprooted lives resembled those of immigrants in Europe who have joined the jihad. They faced barriers of race and class, religion and language. Mr. Ahmed, the 26-year-old suicide bomber, struggled at community colleges before dropping out. His friend Zakaria Maruf, 30, fell in with a violent street gang and later stocked shelves at a Wal-Mart.

If failure had shadowed this first group of men, the young Minnesotans who followed them to Somalia were succeeding in America. Mr. Hassan, the engineering student, was a rising star in his college community. Another of the men was a pre-med student who had once set his sights on an internship at the Mayo Clinic. They did not leave the United States for a lack of opportunity, their friends said; if anything, they seemed driven by unfulfilled ambition.

“Now they feel important,” said one friend, who remains in contact with the men and, like others, would only speak anonymously because of the investigation.

The case has forced federal agents and terrorism analysts to rethink some of their most basic assumptions about the vulnerability of Muslim immigrants in the United States to the lure of militant Islam. For years, it seemed that “homegrown” terrorism was largely a problem in European countries like Britain and France, where Muslim immigrants had failed to prosper economically or integrate culturally. By contrast, experts believed that the successful assimilation of foreign-born Muslims in the United States had largely immunized them from the appeal of radical ideologies.

The story of the Twin Cities men does not lend itself to facile categorizations. They make up a minuscule percentage of their Somali-American community, and it is unclear whether their transformation reflects any broader trend. Nor are they especially representative of the wider Muslim immigrant population, which has enjoyed a stable and largely middle-class existence.

Even among the world’s jihadists, the young men from Minneapolis are something of an exception: in their instant messages and cellphone calls, they seem caught between inner-city America and the badlands of Africa, pining for Starbucks one day, extolling the virtues of camel’s milk and Islamic fundamentalism the next.

“Allah will never change the situation of a people unless they change themselves,” Mr. Hassan, the engineering student, wrote in a Facebook message he posted on April 15. “Take a sec and think about your situation deeply. What change do you need to make?”

Generation of Refugees

Shirwa Ahmed climbed the worn, concrete steps of Roosevelt High School on his first day as a freshman in September 1996.

A slim boy with a watchful gaze, he was one of hundreds of Somali teenagers who had landed at the school in southeastern Minneapolis. Some had never seen a drinking fountain. Others did not know how to hold a pencil, recalled the school’s principal, Bruce Gilman. They carried unspeakable traumas. A number of the students had witnessed their parents being killed.

“It’s almost unimaginable what some of these kids went through,” Mr. Gilman said.

The country they had fled, on the eastern tip of Africa, was embroiled in a civil war that had left it without a functioning government since 1991.

The anarchy reached American televisions two years later, when warlords shot down two Black Hawk helicopters, killing 18 United States soldiers. By then, tens of thousands of Somalis had died and a mass exodus had begun.

A generation of Somalis grew up in the overcrowded refugee camps of northern Kenya, where malaria, scorpion infestations and hunger took their toll. Tales of America sustained them. Clean water was said to flow freely in kitchens, and simple jobs like plucking chickens paid handsomely.

Proof came in the cash sent by a first wave of refugees who had arrived in the United States in the early 1990s. Minneapolis, with its robust social services and steady supply of unskilled jobs, quickly became the capital of their North American diaspora.

When they ended their shifts as cabdrivers or janitors, many Somalis retreated from American life. They had transformed a blighted stretch near the Mississippi River into a Little Mogadishu, commandeering a grim collection of cinderblock buildings known as the Towers — a onetime fictional residence of the heroine of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”

They cut their hair at Somali barber shops, prayed at Somali mosques and organized themselves along the same clan lines that had divided them for decades, calling on tribal elders to settle family disputes and community rifts.

If the adults kept their distance from American culture, their children had little choice but to dive in.

At Roosevelt, Mr. Ahmed was a quick study. He memorized Ice Cube’s lyrics. He practiced for hours on neighborhood basketball courts. He took note of the clothing and vernacular of his African-American classmates, emulating what he could.

His pants sagged, but never too much. He spoke of “homeboys” and used the “n” word, but gave careful regard to the school’s rules. When a classmate’s purse was stolen, it was Mr. Ahmed who dutifully turned in the thief.

Much as he tried, he failed to fit in.

You’re not black, his peers taunted. Go back to Africa.

Somali and African-American students clashed frequently at the school, but Mr. Ahmed seemed ill-suited to the fight. Taciturn by nature, he recoiled at the taunts, his close friend Nicole Hartford said.

“How can they be mad at me for looking like them?” she recalled him saying. “We’re from the same place.”

Even as Mr. Ahmed met rejection at school, he faced disapproval from relatives, who complained that he was mixing with “ghetto people,” Ms. Hartford recalled. It was a classic conundrum for young Somalis: how to be one thing at school and another at home.

Developments in the homeland, followed obsessively by the adults, held little interest among teenagers. They rolled their eyes at the older men known as “the sitting warriors,” who debated clan politics with such gusto at one Starbucks that the staff bought a decibel meter to ensure that the noise did not rise above legal limits.

Yet young men like Mr. Ahmed remained tethered to Somalia by the remittances they were pressed to send. After school every day, he joined a stream of teenagers headed for the airport, where he pushed passengers in wheelchairs. He sent half of his income to Somalia, to “relatives we don’t even know,” his friend Nimco Ahmed said.

The war had torn families apart, and fathers were in short supply. Somali boys struggled most visibly. The financial strain on families like Mr. Ahmed’s, which was headed by an older sister, proved staggering. Of the estimated 100,000 Somalis in the United States, more than 60 percent live in poverty, according to recent census data.

After graduating from high school in 2000, Mr. Ahmed seemed to flounder, taking community college classes while working odd jobs, friends said. But he had done better than many peers, who turned to crime and gangs like Murda Squad and Rough Tough Somalis.

At the root of the problem was a “crisis of belonging,” said Mohamud Galony, a science tutor who was friends with Mr. Ahmed and is the uncle of another boy who left. Young Somalis had been raised to honor their families’ tribes, yet felt disconnected from them. “They want to belong, but who do they belong to?” said Mr. Galony, 23.

By 2004, Mr. Ahmed had found a new circle of friends. These religious young men, pegged as “born-agains” or “fundis,” set themselves apart by their dress. Their trousers had gone from sagging to short, emulating the Prophet Muhammad, who was said to have kept his clothes from touching the ground.

Perhaps none of Mr. Ahmed’s contemporaries had undergone a transformation like that of Zakaria Maruf.

A short boy prone to fits of rage, Mr. Maruf began running afoul of the law at the age of 14. For a time, he fell in with the Hot Boyz, a violent street gang.

He seemed to crave recognition. Known on the basketball court as Zak, he was a mediocre athlete, but he pushed himself harder than anyone else, recalled his coach, Ahmed Dahir.

Mr. Maruf threw himself into Islam with the same intensity, becoming a fixture at a mosque near the Towers, where he mastered the call to prayer. “He had an ego the size of Minnesota,” one fellow mosque member said. “It was, ‘Look at me.’ ”

Mr. Ahmed and Mr. Maruf were sometimes seen preaching to kids on the street, offering their own lives as examples of reform. Yet they continued to struggle.

Mr. Maruf’s criminal record had foiled his search for a job. When he proposed to a young woman in 2005, her parents scoffed, one friend recalled. They did not want their daughter winding up “on welfare,” they told Mr. Maruf, who worked at a Wal-Mart.

“They think that life is about money and material things, but watch what that will do for them,” Mr. Maruf told the friend one afternoon, sitting slumped at the mosque.

He seemed to be searching for a clean slate. Both he and Mr. Ahmed would find it thousands of miles away.

A Political Awakening

In 2006, an Islamist movement swept through Somalia and seized control, giving the country its first taste of peace in a generation.

The group, known as the Islamic Courts Union, promised to end 15 years of internecine violence by uniting Somalia’s clans under the banner of Islam. Key ports were reopened, and order was restored to the capital, Mogadishu.

In Washington, officials of the Bush administration saw a threat to East African stability. Hard-line factions of the Courts were thought to be sheltering Qaeda operatives and had declared a jihad against neighboring Ethiopia, a predominantly Christian country. In December 2006, Ethiopian troops crossed the border and routed the Islamist forces with intelligence support from the United States, beginning a two-year occupation.

These events triggered a political awakening among young Somalis in Minneapolis. They had long viewed their homeland’s problems as hopelessly clan-based, but the Ethiopian campaign simplified things. Here was an external enemy against which young Somalis could unite.

Spurred by a newfound sense of nationalism, college students distributed T-shirts emblazoned with the Somali flag and held demonstrations during a frigid Minnesota winter.

The protests took on a religious dimension as well. While the United States had defended the Ethiopian invasion as a front in the global war on terrorism, many Somalis saw it as a Christian crusade into a Muslim land. They were outraged at reports of Ethiopian troops raping Somali women, looting mosques and killing civilians.

If the Ethiopians were seen as infidel invaders, an insurgent group known as the Shabaab — “youth,” in Arabic — was emerging as “freedom fighters.” In its online propaganda, the Shabaab conflated nationalist sentiments with religious ideology, following a tactic honed by Al Qaeda.

The Shabaab began releasing videos portraying Somalia’s struggle as part of a global movement to defend Islam and restore its rule. Foreign recruits were promised “victory or martyrdom” for enlisting. Several American converts to Islam joined up.

The recruitment of the Twin Cities men can be traced to a group of Somali immigrants from Northern Europe and other countries who, in 2005, traveled to Somalia to fight with the Islamist movement, a senior law enforcement official said. A handful of those men later went to Minneapolis, the official said, and helped persuade the first large group from the Twin Cities to leave for Somalia starting in late 2007.

That first wave consisted of men in their 20s and 30s who had been fixtures at the Abubakar As-Saddique Islamic Center, the largest Somali mosque in Minneapolis. They included an emergency medical technician, a former waiter, a car-rental employee and Shirwa Ahmed, the onetime Roosevelt student who now wore a thick beard and silk gown.

That fall, Mr. Ahmed announced to friends that he was moving to the Middle East to study Islam. After he left for Saudi Arabia to make hajj, the obligatory pilgrimage to Mecca, his nephew wrote to a friend, “My uncle is a changed man.”

The following spring, Zakaria Maruf, the former gang member, vanished. Shortly after his disappearance, two teenage boys walked into a travel agency near the Towers, clutching their Somali passports, recalled Abia Ali, an accountant at the agency.

Ms. Ali recognized the boys from the mosque and suspected that they planned to follow Mr. Maruf to Somalia. She warned the mosque’s leaders, who alerted the boys’ parents and then summoned a meeting with the mosque’s young members.

“All this talk of the movement must stop,” the imam, Sheikh Abdirahman Sheikh Omar Ahmed, recalled telling the crowd. “Focus on your life here. If you become a doctor or an engineer, you can help your country. Over there you will be a dead body on the street.”

In the audience were several young men who would soon disappear.

‘Our Best Kids’

If the first men who left for Somalia had struggled to find their place in America, the boys to follow were “our best kids,” in the words of one uncle.

Mohamoud Hassan outdid most of his peers at Roosevelt High School in 2006, becoming one of the few Somali boys to make it to college that year.

He stood out at the University of Minnesota. Answering to the nickname Snake, the tall, lanky freshman wore a black cotton beret and a pencil-thin moustache. Women found him clownishly charming, occasionally giving in to his pleas for their “digits.” The engineering major tried to cultivate a more serious image, writing poetry, debating politics and poring through “The Autobiography of Malcolm X,” his friend Hindia Ali recalled.

Even his closest friends found Mr. Hassan an enigma. He had come to the United States without parents or siblings and looked after his ailing grandmother in a dim apartment in the Towers. He longed to return to his homeland, both to experience it for himself and to rebuild it. It was a common obsession among his friends. “It’s just this missing piece of us,” his friend Ruqia Mohamed said.

After the Ethiopian invasion, a circle of listeners sometimes gathered around Mr. Hassan at the Coffman student center. Mr. Hassan, then the vice president of the Minnesota Somali Student Union, defended the occupation, posting an essay on Facebook assailing the insurgents as “a handful of thugs.”

But over time, he began to see things differently.

Mr. Hassan’s interest in the Islamist movement dovetailed with his own religious transformation, friends said. In the fall of 2007 he began downloading sermons onto his iPod and soon was attending the Abubakar mosque.

By then, Mr. Hassan had become upset by the reports of rapes in Somalia and set out to learn more about the insurgency, one friend recalled. He began talking of joining the movement as early as February 2008, around the same time that a friend from the mosque — Mr. Maruf, the former gang member — left for Somalia.

“I wanted to go, so I got to know him,” Mr. Hassan said in a recent telephone conversation from Somalia with a Minneapolis friend.

That May, he was incensed by a United States military air strike that killed Aden Hashi Ayro, a leader of the Shabaab, along with at least 10 civilians. “How dare they?” Mr. Hassan demanded one afternoon at the student center. “Who is the terrorist?”

Mr. Hassan and another university student searched the Internet for jihadist videos and chat rooms, the friend said. They listened to “Constants on the Path to Jihad,” lectures by the Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who is suspected of inciting Muslims in the West to violence.

While Somali nationalism had initially driven the men, a friend said, their cause eventually took on a religious cast. They became convinced that Somalia’s years of bloodshed were punishment from God for straying from Islam, the friend said. The answer was to restore the Caliphate, or Islamic rule.

“They saw it as their duty to go and fight,” the friend said. “If it was just nationalism, they could give money. But religion convinced them to sacrifice their whole life.”

Over the next few months, the men communicated frequently with Zakaria Maruf, who was then in southern Somalia trying to recruit men in Minneapolis to join him, said a senior law enforcement official and a lawyer, Stephen L. Smith, who represents one of the men Mr. Maruf approached.

Mr. Maruf reached out through listservs and conference calls arranged by a teenage boy who distributed 800 numbers and passwords so people could listen in. Mr. Maruf had little trouble finding an audience for his pitch in the Twin Cities; he had shuttled boys from the Abubakar mosque to basketball games, and a recording of his call to prayer was a ring tone on the cellphones of young Somalis.

In his calls, listeners heard him boast that he had gotten married, had a child and become a governor for the Shabaab. The onetime stock boy with a criminal record was now a figure of authority, if one believed his claims.

“He was the ‘I’ll take you to the battlefield’ person,” one acquaintance said.

Despite all the spirited talk of the jihad, Mohamoud Hassan, the engineering student, seemed to waver, friends recalled. The tipping point, one said, may have come that September when a close friend was shot dead outside a youth center — the fifth slaying of a young Somali in the Twin Cities in a year.

“I used to think that death only happens to old people,” Mr. Hassan told his friend Ruqia Mohamed. “But he was young — my age. I guess I could die tomorrow.”

Mr. Hassan began spending much of his time with a small group of men that included a pre-med student, an electrical engineering student, a white 27-year-old convert and a pesky 17-year-old Roosevelt senior. The boy, known as Little Bashir, had memorized the Koran and talked of going to Harvard.

The men acted secretive, friends recalled, meeting alone in a study room at the Carlson building, where Mr. Hassan and the pre-med student worked as uniformed security personnel.

In late October, the group visited University Travel Services, near the Towers, accompanied by an older man with a gray beard who introduced himself as their uncle, the manager of the agency said in an interview.

The “uncle” explained that the men wanted to buy tickets to Somalia, and were waiting for passports. Soon after, the young men returned by themselves and paid cash for their tickets, roughly $1,800 apiece, the manager said.

They left on different days to avoid drawing attention, a friend said. Mr. Hassan drove to Chicago, where he boarded a plane to Dubai on Nov. 1, according to an itinerary obtained by The Times. By the eve of the United States presidential election three days later, all of the men were gone.


Training for Jihad

As word spread in Minneapolis that a new group of men had disappeared, another piece of jarring news came from Somalia: Shirwa Ahmed had blown himself up. On Oct. 29, 2008, he drove a car packed with explosives into a government compound in Puntland, a region of northern Somalia.

The bombing was among five attacks that day coordinated by the Shabaab, which left more than 20 people dead in the group’s campaign to eliminate enemies and show their might. The F.B.I. investigated and sent Mr. Ahmed’s remains to Minneapolis in November.

By then, Mr. Hassan and his friends were journeying in the opposite direction. A close friend said the men were met by Zakaria Maruf, the recruiter, and taken to the southern port city of Merka, where they stayed in a “welcoming house” run by a Somali woman whom the men called Mama.

By January, most of the men were at a training camp in southern Somalia, following a strict routine that Mr. Hassan and others described to their Minneapolis friends in phone calls. They woke before dawn to pray and study the Koran. They engaged in rigorous training, running obstacle courses and learning to make bombs.

As foreign recruits, they received special treatment. These mujahideen slept in a different bunker and were considered to have a higher status, the friend said.

Mr. Hassan was struck by the diversity of the fighters, who included Chechnyans and converts from Europe. “I am looking out into the field and I see so many different colors,” Mr. Hassan told the friend by phone.

If becoming a jihadist usually means parting with life in the West, the men from Minneapolis soon broke with tradition. They frequently communicated with dozens of friends in the United States whom one acquaintance described as “the homeys they left behind.”

Two friends showed The Times the Facebook communications of four of the men, including one whose profile picture was, until recently, of Osama bin Laden.

One exchange on Facebook distilled the push and pull: “’Sup dawg,” one of the men wrote to a friend in late December. “Bring yourself over here” to “M-town,” the message continued, where the men carry “all types of guns.”

“I ain’t goin’ over there man,” the young man answered. “Dats the same reason we came 2 America Locco.”

Mr. Hassan and the others claimed to be enjoying their adventure. They had grown up hearing tales about the winding Shabelle River in southern Somalia and the rich taste of camel milk. When they finally swam in the river and drank the milk, they called their friends in Minneapolis, their voices dreamy.

The men seemed to revel in their new identity as fighters. One day in March, Mr. Hassan’s friend the pre-med student was talking on the phone with someone in Minneapolis when he opened fire with his AK-47. He was checking “to see if it worked,” the person recalled him saying.

But there were cracks in the men’s bravado. While on a boat headed to a Shabaab stronghold in the south, the high school student known as Little Bashir began vomiting so violently that he lost his glasses, his mother said in an interview. After he told her this by phone, she fetched his prescription and read it to him, hoping he would somehow find an optometrist.

It was hard to imagine this 17-year-old — a frail, bookish boy who had delighted in calculus — making his way through war-ravaged Somalia, friends of his said.

“I doubt that he could even pick up a handgun,” said Mr. Galony, who had tutored the boy in chemistry.

If the others seemed hardier, they still had moments of weakness. They missed movies and basketball, deodorant and boxer shorts, they told friends back home. One of the men, who suffered from heartburn, asked if anyone could send him a box of Tums by DHL.

Their longing for life in America came and went. They encountered more serious challenges in Somalia. By the time some of them entered training, the Shabaab was fast losing popularity. The Ethiopian troops had pulled out, making way for a new Somali president, Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, the same man who had once led the Islamist movement to which the Shabaab formerly belonged.

“Some of them wondered who they were fighting,” one friend said.

The jihadists’ conversations with their Minneapolis friends sometimes turned testy. Two of the friends said in interviews that they, like many Somalis, had become sharply critical of the Shabaab. The group has carried out beheadings, amputations and the fatal stoning of a 13-year-old rape victim.

In April, the Shabaab fired several mortar rounds at a plane carrying Representative Donald M. Payne, a New Jersey Democrat who was leaving Somalia after meeting with the president.

“What, are y’all retarded?” one of Mr. Maruf’s friends, a college student, chided him in a phone call. “He’s our only friend in Congress.”

“You have been brainwashed by the media,” Mr. Maruf shot back.

Later, the student thought back on the conversation. “Sometimes they will talk and you’re like, Are you trying to prove this to me or to yourself?” she said. “They have this inner struggle.”

An Inquiry Intensifies

Ralph S. Boelter had a robust résumé by the time he took over the F.B.I.’s Minneapolis office in early 2007. He had worked on white-collar crimes in Boston and violent gangs in Los Angeles. He had investigated the leak of the C.I.A. officer Valerie Wilson’s identity.

Returning to the Midwest put Mr. Boelter, a square-jawed Wisconsin native, back on familiar ground. But less than two years later, he found himself tasked with one of the most complex terrorism cases since Sept. 11.

“Never did I imagine that I would step into this here,” Mr. Boelter said one recent afternoon.

In the years since the Sept. 11 attacks, Somalis had remained largely under the law enforcement radar while other Muslim immigrants — primarily Arabs and South Asians — experienced the brunt of the raids and scrutiny.

While federal investigators had tracked the movements of American recruits to the Shabaab since at least early 2008, the F.B.I.’s case did not swing into high gear until after Shirwa Ahmed’s suicide attack that fall.

Investigators in Minneapolis approached Somalis on the street, in their homes, at the Abubakar mosque and on the University of Minnesota campus. Brandishing photographs, the agents asked questions about community figures like the imam of the mosque and its youth director.

As the inquiry wore on, community leaders say, more than 50 people were subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury in Minneapolis and another jury was convened in San Diego. In April, F.B.I. agents raided three Somali money wiring businesses in Minneapolis. By then, the investigation had expanded to smaller Somali communities in Boston; Seattle; Portland, Me.; and Columbus, Ohio.

Somalis in Minneapolis, by turns frightened and intrigued by the inquiry, came up with a Somali code name for the F.B.I. agents in their midst: Fadumo Bashir Ismael.

Mr. Boelter tried to counter the negative attention by appearing on Somali television and radio, encouraging people to cooperate with investigators. Yet he has revealed little about the case itself. The scope and intensity of the investigation, he said, is merely commensurate to the danger posed by the men.

“If American citizens are joining the Shabaab, the potential threat domestically is serious,” Mr. Boelter said. “I think they could be commissioned to come back. Or they could do it on their own because they are philosophically aligned with the Shabaab or Al Qaeda.”

Senior Qaeda leaders have aggressively promoted Somalia as the latest destination for foreign fighters, said Evan Kohlmann, a terrorism consultant who frequently works for the government. In recent months, a small number of Qaeda operatives have reportedly sought sanctuary there.

Analysts find the alliance troubling because Al Qaeda has long sought recruits with American and European passports who can cross borders more freely, said Bruce Hoffman, a professor at Georgetown University who studies terrorism.

There are indications that three Twin Cities men have returned, possibly after defecting from the Shabaab. A friend of the men still in Somalia said they had no thought of attacking America. “Why would I do that?” the friend recalled the pre-med student, Adbisalan Ali, saying on the phone last spring. “My mom could be walking down the street.”

The central question driving the F.B.I. investigation is whether United States citizens have provided material support to the Shabaab, either in the form of personnel or money. Three local acquaintances of Mr. Maruf, the recruiter, sent him small amounts of money at his request, according to one of the friends and a lawyer for the others. It is not known how the young men who followed him to Somalia paid for their trips. Two of the teenage boys were seen knocking on doors at the Towers last summer, asking for donations for “an orphanage.”

The full dimensions of the recruitment effort also remain unclear. A close friend of several of the men described the process as “a chain of friendship” in which one group encouraged the next.

“They want to bring people they are close with because they need that familiarity,” the friend said. “They created their own little America in Somalia.”

The manager of University Travel Services said that since November, he had turned away at least 20 men looking to buy tickets to Somalia, adding that the requests had slowed considerably. Meanwhile, some Somali parents in the Twin Cities have taken to hiding their sons’ passports.

The tension in the community has turned inward at times. Last March, the uncle of Burhan Hassan, the boy known as Little Bashir, testified at a Congressional hearing on the case that the mosque had been “brainwashing” the young men and had possibly raised money for the Shabaab.

The mosque’s leaders denied this, in turn accusing the family and others of shirking responsibility for their own children. “That’s their obligation, to know where their kids are going,” said Omar Hurre, the mosque’s executive director.

A Struggle to Understand

For many older Somalis in Minnesota, the deepest mystery is why so many young refugees would risk their lives and futures to return to a country that their parents struggled to leave.

The mother of Burhan Hassan had been trying to persuade him to escape to the United States Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, said the uncle, Osman Ahmed.

The boy had been calling from Somalia, telling her that he was “fine” and that he missed her cooking. “There is no future for me in America anymore,” she recalled him telling her. “If I come back they’ll send me to Guantánamo.”

But he finally agreed to leave, and in late May his mother wired him about $800, Mr. Ahmed said. Ten days later, on June 5, she picked up the telephone to learn that her son was dead.

He had been shot in the head, a stranger on the phone told Mr. Hassan’s mother. Some of the boy’s relatives suspect that he was killed to prevent him from cooperating with the American investigation. F.B.I. officials have declined to confirm Mr. Hassan’s death.

Months have passed since the older members of his group completed their training in Somalia. Lately, they seem “hardened” and at times radical, a Minneapolis friend said.

During one call, the friend asked Mohamoud Hassan, the engineering student, what it was like to kill people. He told of getting “an adrenaline rush,” the friend recalled, and joked that he and his friends compared “body counts.”

Two weeks ago, they spoke again and the conversation turned to the killing of Little Bashir. One of the men had referred to his passing as “martyrdom” in a recent Facebook posting.

Mr. Hassan seemed to agree.

“Allah knows how to pick,” he said. “The family’s feeling sad, but we’re feeling happy for him.”

Source: The New York Times