Al-Shabaab Silences The BBC

Al-Shabaab has banned the BBC from operating in Southern Somalia. In a press release read out this morning here in Mogadishu, the Islamic Administrations in Mogadishu, Marka, Kismayo, Jowhar and Bidoa have taken all of BBC’s FM transmitters off the air and seized all their property. The statement described the organisation as a ‘vile western mouthpiece’ propagating ‘a barrage of depraved Western views’ to the unsuspecting Muslim population.

The air seems somewhat strange and silent here in Mogadishu. The renowned BBC tone is no longer on the radios and the public is buzzing with discussion and debate. HornAfrik radio which used to air the Somali Service apologised to the public on newshour. Al-Shabaab have also issued an order to HornAfrik, the only radio station that airs VOA news, to stop airing its programs.

Al-Shabaab’s daring display of authority comes at a time when majority of the Somali listeners have been expressing great concerns about the BBC’s management and editorial content. The BBC Somali Service has been riddled with complaints from the Somali media and the public alike.

Al-Shabaab, which has been banned as an organisation in Britain has struck back fiercely and banned the BBC, accusing it of inaccuracy, impartiality, lack of objectivity, propagation of Western views and fanning the flames of enmity among the Somali population. Some of these accusations, however, are coming not only from the Islamists but some professional and journalists have also voiced somewhat similar opinions.

Read more of this post

The Law of Retribution: An eye for an Eye

The Islamic Administration of Lower Shabeelle region yesterday executed one of their own soldiers as a retribution for the murder of a local villager while on duty. Muuse Ali Abud’s sentence was carried out in Marka in front of hundreds of spectators by an Al-shabaab firing squad just after mid-day yesterday. The 27-year-old soldier confessed to killing a 20-year-old villager, Ahmed Abdi Yusuf, after a heated brawl in the market of the tiny village of Balow, near Awdheegle.

Shortly after he killed the villager, on the 27th of March, Muuse was arrested by his comrades and taken into custody. After an investigation into the matter, the family of deceased was called and presented with some options:

  1. To forgive him
  2. To accept blood money
  3. Qisas or retaliation

The family chose the third option, demanding the execution of the murderer, and Muuse’s fate was sealed. But in front of the large crowd that had gathered in Marka’s main square, the convicted soldier displayed a calm disposition and awaited his final moment. Though Muuse might have been the soldier responsible for arresting criminals and bringing them to the Islamic courts for justice in his earlier days, this time he was on the stand.

Sheikh Mohamed Abu Abdallah, Al-Shabaab’s governor of Lower Shabeelle, delivered a sermon to the expectant crowd just before the execution. He said:

‘Us and the public are equal in the eyes of the Shariah. We pledged to live under the rulings of the Qur’an and whoever commits a sin, he will be punishmed according to the rules dictated by the Shariah.’

But while the Sheikh’s speech was received with loud chants of ‘Allahu Akbar’ and Muuse’s case attracted a huge media attraction, another case went under the radar. Just as twilight fell yesterday, one of the TFG soldiers shot and killed a teenager as he left his house in Xamar Jajab district of Mogadishu. But this case has largely gone unreported in the media and no one was brought to trial for the murder. The number of killings has increased recently in the three government-controlled districts in Mogadishu as soldiers are said to often rob residents at gunpoint, killing whoever retaliates. Many of the residents have now relocated to areas such as Dayniile, under Al-Shabaab, and the remaining persistently complain to the government, which has done nothing so far.

Unlike the government’s corrupt and bribe-riddled system, Al-Shabaab follow a strict Shariah code and govern all the 10 regions under their control in this manner. The people living in regions under Al-Shabaab control have had a relatively greater degree of safety and peace compared to those living in the TFG controlled areas. With establishment of the Islamic Administrations in Al-Shabaab controlled regions, and the introduction of the Islamic penal code system, the number of killings has significantly decreased.

They may be branded as terrorists by the western world, but Al-Shabaab continue to gain more support and popularity here from the local population they govern. When questioned about the events, Ali Osman, one of the spectators in Marka, couldn’t control his tears:

‘I never thought I would live to see the day when a killer is punished for his crime in Somalia. Never! This is just a miracle. And on top of that he was their [Al-Shabaab] soldier. This is the justice we need and if every killer today was brought to this sort of justice, we would have lived happily. I feel sorry for the man and it was painful to watch but this is the justice we wish to live under.’

The Sufi Disintegration Phase

When Al-Shabaab exhumed the graves of the Sufi scholars in their Polytheism Eradication Campaign, all the people here in Mogadishu expected, in addition to the usual public outcries, an all-out war between Al-Shabaab and Ahlu Sunna Wal Jamaa’a (ASWJ). Radio stations were abuzz with debates, coffee shops were alive with the silent Somali murmurs, animated discussions filled the public gatherings and the vociferous Sufi supporters protested as much as they could. But when the campaign swept through Somalia, leaving no stone unturned in its quest, and the Sufis, except for their spokesman vehemently expressing his sorrow on the airwaves and some demonstrations outside Somalia, silently bewailed their loss, the public noticed something slightly disconcerting. Was this all ASWJ could do? Or was there something more to come? The answer was a painful let-down for SWJ supporters. Nothing happened; not the much expected boldness in words and deeds, not the gathering of forces and not even the slightest of movement towards reclaiming their lost honour and saving the reputation of their saints.

Though it has been known fro quite some time here, as the well-versed politicians and coffee-shop pundits are quick to point out, that the Sufi elegance is slowly becoming out of fashion, it has now come to the realisation that soon they will no longer be able to survive. Made up of Sufis who claim mystical communication with their saints, unsuitable alliance of clan militia groups and political opportunists, ASWJ has now entered a phase of gradual disintegration. And there are many reasons for this. Some of which are:

Read more of this post

Helicopter Shot Down in Marka

Black Hawk

There are reports circulating in Mogadishu that an American helicopter (not still verified) has been shot down in Marka in the past hour. The local radio stations have reported that the helicopter was seen plummeting into the ocean in flames. A number of witnesses have been interviewed and all of them seem to have observed the event.

Helicopters flying over the open skies of Somalia are not a new phenomenon. For the past few weeks several helicopters have been spotted flying  above Barawe. In one incident Al-Shabaab fighters opened fire at some of the helicopters and they simply retreated without firing back. Marka, an ancient city, on the South Eastern coast of Somalia, is also said to have witnessed several helicopters flying above its skyline. But this episode seems to have ended miserably for the pilots.

Await further updates.

%d bloggers like this: