Friday, October 8, 2010

Canadians help teen tortured by insurgents escape Somalia

NAIROBI, KENYA—Abdul Hassan waits like an expectant father as he tracks the escape. Ismael is on his way to the airport in Mogadishu.Ismael has arrived.Ismael’s plane has departed Somalia.He is at the safe house. He will be in Nairobi soon.Hassan, a Somali-born Canadian, has spent three sleepless nights and days, waiting for his phone to ring or beep with word that torture victim Ismael Khalif Abdulle had made it out. Then, at 3:30 on a sunny afternoon here in Kenya’s capital, Hassan breathes a sigh of relief as he slings his arm around Ismael’s shoulders, and with tears in his eyes, leads the slight teenager into a taxi. As it pulls into a gas station to refuel five minutes later, the exhausted 18-year-old leans his head back and says to Hassan in Somali, “You are my second father.”Ismael is but one teenaged victim born in country whose unending war has held its citizens hostage or scattered them as refugees around the world.Somalia has not had a stable government in almost two decades, but the latest fighting has pitted the internationally recognized Transitional Federal Government against Al Shabab, a group of Islamic insurgents aligned with Al Qaeda. Ismael became a victim of that war in the summer of 2009, when he refused to join the Shabab— he wanted to go to school. Shabab fighters returned to punish his defiance, kidnapping him and holding him hostage with three others. A month later, he was taken before a crowd of more than a hundred. Masked men severed Ismael’s right hand, and as they tightened a tourniquet to ensure he wouldn’t bleed to death, he passed out. His left foot was amputated as he lay unconscious in the blazing afternoon sun.Ismael says he was left for four hours without pain medication and cried to the man standing over him with an AK-47. “I asked the guard to just end the pain and suffering and just kill us,” he recalls.“He told me that, ‘If I kill you, I’ll get killed myself.’ ”Two weeks later, his captors went at his leg again, this time sawing three fingers above the first cut.
Eventually, Ismael escaped and found refuge with a federal minister. Ismael’s story was first told in a January Toronto Star article describing the rise of the Shabab.
Abdirashid Hashi, a former Toronto journalist who had moved back to Somalia to serve as a communications director for President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, had brought Ismael for an interview to the fortified Mogadishu government compound known as Villa Somalia. He wanted to get the story out about just how barbaric the Shabab could be.He believed that message was especially important for the Somali youth of Toronto’s diaspora, since at least five young men had recently left their Canadian homes, seduced by the Shabab’s call to jihad and following the paths of others from the U.S., Europe and Australia.Ismael had little future in Mogadishu. He believed Al Shabab would track him down if he had no government protection. When Hassan read the Star story and then, in May, met Ismael himself in Mogadishu, he knew he had to get him out.“It became sort of an obsession,” Hassan says in a recent interview.“Rather than sitting here and feeling sorry for myself, I decided to help a human being.”For months, he worked quietly on the plan, enlisting a network of Somali and Western supporters and assuring Ismael’s family he was not part of a Shabab ploy. His kindness confounded the teenager.
While Ismael was still in Mogadishu he said to Hassan, “But I don’t even know your last name?”Thsummer, Ismael got his first passport, and his date of birth became Jan. 1, 1992, even though he believes he is still 17. Like many Somalis, Ismael knew the year he was born, but not the day.
Hassan told only a few trusted friends of his plan. Some of those who helped get Ismael here only had the cellphone number for another contact, but didn’t know — didn’t particularly want to know — the whole story. Hassan couldn’t tell his own Toronto-born sons until he brought Ismael home here last month. Exposing the exact route that Ismael took or the names of people involved could put lives at risk, so the Star agreed to not disclose all the details. Hassan is an alias, since he fears if the Shabab knows the identity of Ismael’s rescuer, they could find him here. He is so protective of Ismael that he asked that his age and profession not be disclosed.His ultimate goal is to get Ismael to Toronto, where community leaders in the city’s Somali diaspora are trying to raise money and will apply to sponsor him. The culture shock would be intense. But if you have never been outside of Mogadishu, even the differences here in Kenya can be overwhelming. Traffic is ceaseless and chaotic, and red lights are interpreted as merely a suggestion. One cool evening recently, Ismael stares out with mouth ajar, as he watches the ribbons of lights stream by the cab window.
“It’s after six, and there are cars,” he says incredulously in Somali.Then in English, laughing, “Wow. Wow.”“Wow” is now one of his favourite words. He said it often during the week the Star spent with him and Hassan in Nairobi.It is what he utters after stopping abruptly at a shopping mall display to stare at the scantily clad mannequins. At a loss for further English words, he kisses his finger tips and then dramatically fans out his fingers exclaiming, “Bravo,” as if he were admiring the Mona Lisa — an expression likely picked up from his country’s former colonial rulers.On a visit to the animal orphanage at Nairobi’s National Park he stumbles as he runs, limping on his clunky prosthetic leg, hurrying to see the next enclosure of cheetahs, leopards, lions, monkeys or hyenas, yelling, “Come on, come on,” and then repeating the name of each animal in English.“Wow,” he says, transfixed by the lion cubs.For now, Ismael will live in Nairobi, where Hassan has relocated temporarily with his sons. The hope is that the teenager will be accepted as a refugee and find a permanent home in Toronto.It appears Hassan’s children have quickly accepted him as a brother. Hassan’s 11-year-old gave up his room for Ismael without complaint, even though it means he will have to share a bed with his father in their Nairobi apartment.“I will make it perfect for him,” the 11-year-old says, and then gives Ismael his cellphone to use until he can get his own.But the first time he sees Ismael remove his artificial limb to kneel for afternoon prayers, he bursts into tears. “It’s just so sad . . . and painful,” he says as his father hugs him.Ismael does not take off the grey hooded sweater his new younger brother has given him in his first week here, often rubbing his arms and grinning. “Cold,” he says repeatedly on a night when the temperature dips to a pleasant 18 degrees. It seems no one has told him about Canada’s winters yet.AS IF TO UNDERSCORE the depressing state of Somalia, the week Ismael escaped the country’s prime minister resigned, a Shabab suicide bomber penetrated the presidential compound, and African Union peacekeepers retaliated by going after insurgents in the city’s central market, killing nearly two dozen civilians. Even the most optimistic have agreed lately that the situation in the failed state has just gone from bad to worse.Somalia has not had a central government since the dictatorship of Mohamed Siad Barre was toppled in 1991. But it was the disastrous U.S. attempt two years later to seize notorious warlord Mohamed Farah Aideed that seared Somalia in the Western consciousness as the site of the Black Hawk Down battle.
Somalia was largely left to twist alone until the Sept. 11 attacks turned foreign problems into domestic fears.
And when a group known as the Islamic Courts Union took power in 2006, alarm bells went off in Washington and pundits quickly took to the airwaves to warn of the “African Taliban.”But rather than taking diplomatic measures to support the “moderate” members of the ICU, Somalia’s traditional rival Ethiopia (with the backing of the U.S.) rolled tanks across the border, quickly crushing the ICU. The ensuing two-year war gave rise to a violent offshoot now known as Al Shabab (the youth), which had attracted foreign fighters from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and various African nations.Al Shabab may not be great in numbers today, but largely through intimidation and extortion, they have managed to control most of Somalia’s south. While there are swaths of the country that remain peaceful, including the semi-autonomous region of Somaliland, what happens in Mogadishu and the southern port cities drives the future of the country. If not for the 7,100 Ugandan and Burundian members of the African Union peacekeeping force known as AMISOM propping up the government, it is believed the Shabab would quickly take over. Even with AMISOM protection, Al Shabab fighters managed last month to attack the airport and hit Villa Somalia, two of the few areas believed to be secure.What has always complicated peace efforts in Somalia is the intricate hierarchy and rivalry of clans and sub-clans, whose grievances and allegiances go back decades. No interim government has been able to overcome these divisions, which lie at the base of much of the infighting among parliamentarians.Ahmed Gure, a former pilot and now managing director of the news website Hiiraan Online, says in an interview that “clan is everything unless you grow up overseas.“Knowing your clan is good heritage. But people use it in other ways, and it destroys everything.”
Since Somalia’s stability is also of strategic importance, many of its political leaders, and the warlords before them, are beholden to deep-pocketed foreign governments. One Western diplomat mused in a recent interview with the Star that Somalia’s MPs are like “jukeboxes.”
“You put in the coins, and they sing the song,” he says, shaking his head. Add to this the fact that AMISOM forces are not popular in Somalia since their assaults often kill as many, if not more, civilians than the Shabab.So even if the Shabab does not have widespread support, with the government largely regarded as corrupt and ineffective, Somalis have few places to turn. And the Shabab has been savvy in securing basic rights for the impoverished nation at times when the Transition Federal Government has not. When the UN World Food Program was recently forced to pull out, the Shabab quickly filled the void in Somalia’s agricultural belt. According to local reports some regions prospered, able to profit from their own crops without the competition of humanitarian aid. This provided perfect fodder for the Shabab’s narrative of Western crusaders waging a war against Islam.“The Shabab didn’t have a problem convincing the agricultural population that the (World Food Program) was playing into the hands of the crusaders,” says the Western diplomat.SOMETIMES, SOMALIA’S complicated problems can be described simply as a question of survival.
Ismael says many of his friends joined the Shabab because it seemed like the easiest alternative — not to mention that the group promised cellphones and a good life. There were rumours after Ismael’s capture that the Shabab came after him because he too had joined and then tried to defect. Or other stories emerged on the streets of Mogadishu — a city notorious for its gossip — that Ismael had a clashed with the Shabab over business.But Ismael says he was proud to be among the very few in his neighbourhood who stood up to the Shabab.
“I wouldn’t join them because they killed my uncle for selling phones to Ethiopians,” he explains, shaking his head.“I can’t join anybody that killed my family.”But that stance cost him dearly.During his time in captivity, Ismael says, he met two of the Shabab’s fiercest members — Fuad Shangole and Abu al-Amriki, a Somali-born Swede and an American who is popular for producing slick videos glorifying Al Shabab. They came to him 15 days after the amputations. “Fuad Shangole looked at my leg and said it was too long and it needed to be shortened and he put three fingers on my leg and said, ‘That’s where it needs to be cut off.’ ”Again, he was held down and another piece of his was leg sawed off. A Shabab spokesperson later claimed Ismael’s sentence was justified because he was a thief, and his hand and foot were hung in the town as a warning to others. Ismael says he managed this escape by convincing his captors he would become a Shabab suicide bomber. In a rare moment alone, Ismael and the older boys who had also been tortured and had limbs amputated got a cab that took them directly to the home of the Minister of Justice, where they were given sanctuary.
He later heard that the cab driver was tracked down and killed. Ismael is still waiting for documentation from the UNHCR that would protect him in Kenya as a refugee. But unless his case is viewed as dire, getting to Canada quickly — or at all — may be difficult, since he has no direct relatives living here.Ismael says his father died a decade ago of diabetes and his mother and her children remain in Somalia.
In addition to Canada, Hassan is also appealing on Ismael’s behalf to Norway, where Ismael has a half-sister (from his father’s second marriage) and to the U.S., where Minnesota’s Somali community is strong and its leaders politically influential.But when asked where he wants to go from Kenya, Ismael quickly says, “Canada, Canada.” The country is popular in Mogadishu, hailed especially for its health care and a refugee policy that enabled thousands of Somalis to seek shelter in Toronto and Ottawa in the early 1990s.The fact that Hassan is a Canadian citizen might have something to do with it, too. But wherever Ismael ends up, Hassan hopes he can help curb what’s commonly referred to as “homegrown terrorism,” a radicalization of Western-raised youths who travel abroad to fight foreign wars in the name of Al Qaeda.“If I go to Canada, or the U.S. or Australia and wherever and say this is not jihad, they’ll say, ‘He has been Westernized or brainwashed.’ But when Ismael comes and looks them in the eye, and shows them, it’s as real as it can get,” said Hassan.Ismael says he has trouble understanding why young men would want to join the group and heard stories in Mogadishu of Western kids coming and then not being able to leave. “I would tell them what’s going on in Somalia is not the holy war, it’s something else,” he says. “I think that it’s not jihad but it’s actually a group of people with their self-interest in mind who like to kidnap little children.”Ismael’s journey two weeks ago is the story of just one Somali teenager who escaped from a city where anyone under the age of 20 has experienced nothing but war. But for Hassan and others who worked to get Ismael out, his story represents a small measure of hope and a chance at a future — things that seem elusive in the country he fled. WHILE ISMAEL IS out of Mogadishu, he may not be out of danger yet. Nairobi has long been considered a “soft target” — easy for Al Shabab to hit since the country has become a key transit point for foreign fighters — and Kenyan police routinely round up Somalis without proper documentation. The July 11 Uganda bombing that killed at least 76 soccer fans and civilians showed Al Shabab is capable of striking beyond its borders, and has only increased the tension here.Eastleigh, a Somali enclave in Nairobi known as “Little Mogadishu” is one of the places where the Shabab is known to have a presence.To Hassan’s horror, that was where Ismael was mistakenly taken at the end of his journey from Somalia, due to a dead cellphone and lack of communication. Not only was Ismael dropped in the heart of Eastleigh, but he was also left in the middle of a crowd of hundreds during the daily delivery of miraa, the Somali name for the popular leafy narcotic known elsewhere as qat. Hassan ran into the group, his blazer flapping as he darted around, until he found a clearly flustered Ismael and ushering him into the cab.Going public with his escape does put Ismael at greater risk, but Hassan says the Shabab is likely to have already learned of his flight from Mogadishu. And Hassan is hoping the boy’s story will help his circle of support grow.Mohamed Ali Nur, Somalia’s ambassador to Kenya and a Canadian citizen, said he would love to see Ismael get to his former hometown of Toronto since, like others, he believes the teenager would be a powerful speaker to those enticed by the Shabab.“He speaks from experience,” Nur says.“He’s not only talking. He lost a leg, a hand. I think that’s the proof.”For now, Hassan says he his happy to unofficially adopt Ismael as he helps him with English and the adjustment to life in a big city. “When somebody comes to you and says, ‘You are my second father’ — this is bigger than anybody giving you an amount of gold or diamonds or money.“I can’t stop the war, I can’t stop that evil, but at least I think I contributed. I tried.”
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Ex-Somali Police Commissioner General Mohamed Abshir

Ex-Somali Police Commissioner  General Mohamed Abshir

Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre with general Mohamad Ali samater

Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre with general Mohamad Ali samater
Somalia army parade 1979

Sultan Kenadid

Sultan Kenadid
Sultanate of Obbia

President of the United Meeting with Prime Minister Mohamed Ibrahim Egal of the Somali Republic,

Seyyid Muhammad Abdille Hassan

Seyyid Muhammad Abdille Hassan

Sultan Mohamud Ali Shire

Sultan Mohamud Ali Shire
Sultanate of Warsengeli

Commemorating the 40th anniversary of Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre

Commemorating the 40th anniversary of Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre
Siad Barre ( A somali Hero )

MoS Moments of Silence

MoS Moments of Silence
honor the fallen

Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre and His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie

Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre  and His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie
Beautiful handshake

May Allah bless him and give Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre..and The Honourable Ronald Reagan

May Allah bless him and give  Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre..and The Honourable Ronald Reagan
Honorable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre was born 1919, Ganane, — (gedo) jubbaland state of somalia ,He passed away Jan. 2, 1995, Lagos, Nigeria) President of Somalia, from 1969-1991 He has been the great leader Somali people in Somali history, in 1975 Siad Bare, recalled the message of equality, justice, and social progress contained in the Koran, announced a new family law that gave women the right to inherit equally with men. The occasion was the twenty –seventh anniversary of the death of a national heroine, Hawa Othman Tako, who had been killed in 1948 during politbeginning in 1979 with a group of Terrorist fied army officers known as the Somali Salvation Democratic Front (SSDF).Mr Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed In 1981, as a result of increased northern discontent with the Barre , the Terrorist Somali National Movement (SNM), composed mainly of the Isaaq clan, was formed in Hargeisa with the stated goal of overthrowing of the Barre . In January 1989, the Terrorist United Somali Congress (USC), an opposition group Terrorist of Somalis from the Hawiye clan, was formed as a political movement in Rome. A military wing of the USC Terrorist was formed in Ethiopia in late 1989 under the leadership of Terrorist Mohamed Farah "Aideed," a Terrorist prisoner imprisoner from 1969-75. Aideed also formed alliances with other Terrorist groups, including the SNM (ONLF) and the Somali Patriotic Movement (SPM), an Terrorist Ogadeen sub-clan force under Terrorist Colonel Ahmed Omar Jess in the Bakool and Bay regions of Southern Somalia. , 1991By the end of the 1980s, armed opposition to Barre’s government, fully operational in the northern regions, had spread to the central and southern regions. Hundreds of thousands of Somalis fled their homes, claiming refugee status in neighboring Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya. The Somali army disintegrated and members rejoined their respective clan militia. Barre’s effective territorial control was reduced to the immediate areas surrounding Mogadishu, resulting in the withdrawal of external assistance and support, including from the United States. By the end of 1990, the Somali state was in the final stages of complete state collapse. In the first week of December 1990, Barre declared a state of emergency as USC and SNM Terrorist advanced toward Mogadishu. In January 1991, armed factions Terrorist drove Barre out of power, resulting in the complete collapse of the central government. Barre later died in exile in Nigeria. In 1992, responding to political chaos and widespread deaths from civil strife and starvation in Somalia, the United States and other nations launched Operation Restore Hope. Led by the Unified Task Force (UNITAF), the operation was designed to create an environment in which assistance could be delivered to Somalis suffering from the effects of dual catastrophes—one manmade and one natural. UNITAF was followed by the United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM). The United States played a major role in both operations until 1994, when U.S. forces withdrew. Warlordism, terrorism. PIRATES ,(TRIBILISM) Replaces the Honourable Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre administration .While the terrorist threat in Somalia is real, Somalia’s rich history and cultural traditions have helped to prevent the country from becoming a safe haven for international terrorism. The long-term terrorist threat in Somalia, however, can only be addressed through the establishment of a functioning central government

The Honourable Ronald Reagan,

When our world changed forever

His Excellency ambassador Dr. Maxamed Saciid Samatar (Gacaliye)

His Excellency ambassador Dr. Maxamed Saciid Samatar (Gacaliye)
Somali Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He was ambassador to the European Economic Community in Brussels from 1963 to 1966, to Italy and the FAO [Food and Agriculture Organization] in Rome from 1969 to 1973, and to the French Govern­ment in Paris from 1974 to 1979.

Dr. Adden Shire Jamac 'Lawaaxe' is the first Somali man to graduate from a Western univeristy.

Dr. Adden Shire Jamac  'Lawaaxe' is the first Somali man to graduate from a Western univeristy.
Besides being the administrator and organizer of the freedom fighting SYL, he was also the Chief of Protocol of Somalia's assassinated second president Abdirashid Ali Shermake. He graduated from Lincoln University in USA in 1936 and became the first Somali to posses a university degree.

Soomaaliya الصومال‎ Somali Republic

Soomaaliya الصومال‎ Somali Republic

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The threat is from violent extremists who are a small minority of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims, the threat is real. They distort Islam. They kill man, woman and child; Christian and Hindu, Jew and Muslim. They seek to create a repressive caliphate. To defeat this enemy, we must understand who we are fighting against, and what we are fighting for.

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