Monday, August 18, 2014

My SMS relationship with Al-Shabaab

Al-Shabaab, the militant Islamist group operating in Somalia and Kenya, likes to communicate with journalists by SMS. But receiving their text messages and talking to them on the phone can be an unnerving, and at times surreal, experience.
The other morning I woke up to a text message and missed call from Al-Shabaab.
As always, the message was written in perfect English. It informed me about a film Al-Shabaab has made called Beyond the Shadows. It said the film gave an "accurate portrayal" of what happened when French commandoes last year tried - and failed - to rescue a suspected French intelligence agent held hostage by the group.
A few days later I got another call from Al-Shabaab. The clear, relaxed voice on the other end of the phone told me I was about to receive a text message about the group's role in the killing of a senior police official in Somalia earlier that day.
Sure enough, a few seconds later the text message arrived. Then came a second call to confirm I had indeed received the message.
This is the usual pattern. A call, a text message, then another call to check the message - or the SMS press release, as Al-Shabaab calls it - has arrived.
Scrolling through these messages on my phone, I can chart the history of Al-Shabaab attacks.
Many of the recent ones are in Kenya. One five-part message, written in the style of a news agency report, claims responsibility for an attack on a restaurant in Djibouti popular with foreigners (or, as Al-Shabaab calls them, "Western crusaders").
I have seen Al-Shabaab's violence at close hand.
Lazy Sundays
Earlier this year, I was just a few buildings down from the Jazeera Palace Hotel in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, when it was attacked, first by one suicide car bomber, then another, who waited for the emergency services to arrive before driving his vehicle into them and the hotel to ensure maximum casualties.
The blasts from the exploding cars were huge. Bullets cracked down the street as the security forces tried to beat back Al-Shabaab fighters who had come - in a minibus, I was told - to try and storm the hotel. In the middle of all this, the main target of the attack - a senior security official - came with his entourage to the place where I was. We set up a circle of chairs for them, and they sat there like statues, in stunned, stony silence.
I sometimes find it difficult to relate these acts of extreme and terrifying violence to the calm, measured voice of the Al-Shabaab official on the other end of the phone - to the precise, clinical wording of those text messages.
What started as brief calls about particular attacks have over time developed into longer, wider discussions about the movement's practices and philosophies.
Sometimes there is room for debate. But when I ask about certain subjects - the treatment of spies or adulterers for example - the tone of voice changes. It becomes cold and mechanical, as if the words are learned by rote.
I had the conversation about spies one lazy Sunday morning when I was still in bed.
I got a call from Al-Shabaab, and as I sat in my safe, comfortable bedroom, I heard the voice say: "If you are found guilty of spying, there is only one punishment. You will face the firing squad in a public place. Everybody must witness the killing of a spy. The spy must receive three, four or five bullets to the head."
But perhaps the strangest conversation I had was one sunny day outside the Houses of Parliament in London.
I was due to attend an event there but as I was early, I was sitting in a park outside, in the shade of those grand buildings. My phone rang. I saw the words Al-Shabaab flash on to my screen. What started as an update on the latest attack on the Kenyan coast ended up as a lecture about my faith.
Physical scars
"Have you thought about the afterlife?" asked the official. "You know, Mary, you won't be around in 20, 30, 40 years' time. I seriously recommend you consider converting to Islam," he added. This man seemed genuinely concerned, as he urged me in a gentle voice to take up the Muslim faith.
All the time, images of people I know or have known, who have been caught up in Al-Shabaab attacks, flashed before my eyes.
Some of them are now dead. Others have suffered horrific physical injuries, like a politician I met whose body was ripped apart in an explosion. His black skin is now mottled with raw, angry, bright pink scars. He can't hear anything now because of the damage the blast did to his ears.
Others don't bear any physical scars but jump every time they hear a bang, even if it's just a door. They shudder when they walk past a parked car in Mogadishu, afraid it might explode. Their hearts miss a beat whenever someone they don't know approaches them for fear they might be a suicide bomber.
They, like me, have received texts from Al-Shabaab, only the nature of the messages is very different, as they often contain death threats.
I never quite know when I am going to receive the next message from Al-Shabaab.
I might be on holiday with family, having supper with friends, when all of a sudden, a text message will burst on to my screen, bringing two very different worlds into sharp collision.
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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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