Thursday, December 12, 2013

Al-Shabaab rookies attack government bases in Baidoa.

“Whoever sent these young brainwashed boys should know that he will not achieve anything because the Somali public is tired of war and they simply want to build their life and country. We want to tell those behind the attack that they will not dampen our spirits,” Eden added.

Suspected Al-Shabaab rookie fighters carried out ambush attacks on several government installations in Baidoa firing rocket propelled grenades and using both heavy and light machine guns in a night ride that was anticipated by officials following intelligence reports of the same.
The attack was followed by a heavy exchange of fire between Somalia security officials and the attackers that lasted for almost an hour from midnight Wednesday to early hours of Thursday.
One official said the attackers were young men who seemed to have undergone a simple training on how to fire a rifle because they could not even properly aim their guns at their targets.
“The Al-Shabaab trainees attacked four of our bases in Baidoa. Our forces contained them because we had prior intelligence reports of the attack and so they found us prepared. Three government forces were wounded in the heavy attack and our boys killed at least 10 of the attackers with many others fleeing with bullet wounds,” a senior security source who did not wish to be named as he not allowed to speak to media.
The source said the militants are planning more attacks later tonight and that government forces and their African Union backers are more than prepared to respond to any hostile fire.
Baidoa, an agricultural rich city located 240 km west of the capital Mogadishu, has in the past one year experienced a peaceful spell since the Al-Shabaab militants were ousted by a combined Ethiopian and Somalia military force in February 2012.
Residents accuse Al-Shabaab of disturbing peace and denying locals the opportunity to rebuild their shuttered life marred by a bloody conflict blindly spearheaded by the Al-qaeda affiliated Al-Shabaab militants.
“What was really the purpose of this cowardly attack?” quipped one angry resident, Madey Eden.
“Whoever sent these young brainwashed boys should know that he will not achieve anything because the Somali public is tired of war and they simply want to build their life and country. We want to tell those behind the attack that they will not dampen our spirits,” Eden added.
Friday, December 6, 2013

Madiba, rest in peace: Tribute to a true African hero.

I never had the opportunity to meet him in his lifetime but I must confess he is one of the greatest people I would have loved to met anytime! Rest in peace Magical Madiba.

Mandela, madiba, Tata, the first Black South African president - You could give him whatever name or title but he is still that simple, down to earth, respected, magical, easily loved world icon, father or simply the Most Appreciated National Don Icon Bold African...MANDELA!!!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Somalis to choose what support they want – British Envoy

BAIDOA, Somalia December 3 - The United Kingdom ambassador to Somalia Neil Wigan made his maiden visit to Baidoa on Tuesday to assess projects funded by the British tax payers as well as to meet with local leaders in a bid to improve bilateral relations between the two nations.
Speaking to the media in the agriculture-rich central town of Baidoa, ambassador Wigan said his government has set aside money for a special program dubbed “the stability fund” that is specifically designed to help Somalia recover from years of conflict and to help them address their key needs.
Unlike previous interventions this time round the Somali people will have the right to choose what projects or programs they need funded by British tax payers money. Such a bold move is expected to jumpstart the economy, create employments and more importantly end years of foreign aid policy interventions that has seen billions of foreign cash pumped into Somalia with little or no effect simply because the locals had no say in the design of the programs for maximum benefit.
“We are setting up something called the Stability Fund which allows local communities to decide for themselves what projects they would like to apply for,” Ambassador Neil told reporters in Baidoa adding that it is up to the locals to decide what they want most.
“We will certainly encourage those applications,” he added, reiterating their desire to directly support specific needs of the people of Somalia who have had to endure the agony of one of Africa’s longest civil wars that displaced millions of people with many more others killed or maimed in the unceasing violence.
However, these days Somalia is slowly recovering and locals are hopeful of the future following the expansion of the Somalia government to the hinterland with the support of African Union peacekeepers who continue to battle the Al-Qaeda linked militants, Al-Shabaab, which is against development and peace in Somalia.
The world and in particular strong Western countries like Britain and the US seems to have had enough of the melodrama in Somalia and have shown a desire to support the Somalis by not only recognizing their government but also restoring full diplomatic ties with Somalia.
Ambassador Neil Wigan replaced Matt Baugh as London’s man in Mogadishu in June this year following the re-opening of the British embassy in the seaside Somalia capital in April after being closed for 22 years.
Asked about his views on the recent vote of no confidence against Somalia Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon, ambassador Neil said the issue was a Somali affair but that it was pleasing to see the adherence of the constitution in resolving the political stalemate in the Horn of African country.
In his short visit to Baidoa, Ambassador Neil was impressed by the town’s potential.
“Baidoa is very green and peaceful and cool. So it’s a real pleasure to be here but I have seen that there is the damage that was done to Baidoa during the war and so there is need for international support,” Ambassador Neil observed.
The locals are already excited about the British support.
“The British government is aware of our needs because they have a very good understanding of Somalia,” said Clan Chief Mohamed Yakub Sheikh who spoke on behalf of all clans living in and around Baidoa.
Wednesday, October 30, 2013

UK Somalia top aid chief visits Baidoa, shocked by destruction

“I want to tell Somalis to keep talking to each other. Somalis need a political settlement with each other because no amount of international assistance can make that happen. Somalis need to make that happen for themselves,” DFID Somalia boss Joanna Reid said with a grin, before boarding her special flight back to the Somalia capital, Mogadishu.

Baidoa – Somalia: Joanna Reid, the United Kingdom Department of Foreign and International Development (DFID) Somalia chief visited Baidoa for the first time to check out progress and impact of DFID’s work locally implemented by various humanitarian organizations aimed at empowering the local community to be self-sufficient in the ongoing international efforts to stabilize Somalia.
During her short visit, Madam Joanna toured the Baidoa police station, where UK tax payer’s money is helping to renovate the dilapidated police station and since all the offices are under renovation she had to be briefed under a tree by the policemen.
She also met with a team of Somali mine experts under Mine Action who defuse and detonate bombs and other Improvised explosives devices (IEDs) and had the opportunity to detonate a small bomb under the supervision of the Somali mine experts, the bomb she detonated was among dozens of others planted by suspected Al-Shabaab militants in Baidoa which have been safely recovered and are in the process of being defused.
“I find it encouraging hearing that people are saying now it is time for change in Somalia and that they have got some stability. People say now they want some development, they want to do something with that and that is very important and it is not seen as humanitarian assistance it is really development,” She said.
Joanna and her delegation comprising of DFID staffs in Somalia later visited the Baidoa central jail that is also in a very bad shape with leaking roofs and congested rooms for inmates. The jail is in the pipeline to benefit from the UK aid managed and implemented by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
She later met with local Somali leaders and various representatives of humanitarian agencies implementing DFID programs in Baidoa to hear about the progress of the work, challenges faced by the implementers and more importantly what could be done differently to help improve the pathetic situation of Somalis.
“What we were saying to the governor is that it is not just sticking pasta, feeding people, we can now move on from that but you need the political will and you need stability and so if you have got that then I think we can see some development in Somalia,” Joanna said.
Baidoa governor Abdi Adan Hosow praised the UK government for its support to Somalia and in particular Baidoa. He said DFID programs are helping locals with much need skills and entrepreneurial skills to quickly settle from years of conflict and displacement.
“Baidoa town is so glad to host the DFID Somalia chief and her staff. We wish to greatly thank the people of the UK and their government for the much needed support in to our people. Your money is helping families cope with years of conflict and displacement and it is also imparting life skills to youths and women many of who would otherwise be languishing in poverty or in utter hopelessness,” Governor Hosow told the UK delegation. The governor is himself a Somali British diaspora returnee from London.
The little Joanna and her team saw of Baidoa simply shocked her. She was however full of praise to the African Union peacekeepers in Somalia, AMISOM, saying that they are vital in making peace happen which in the long term would help in the development of Somalia.
“Baidoa is very broken. I did not see a single building that was intact and so I think that in itself it is quite shocking and I think we need to remember just how fragile and how much people have been through here and what they have suffered and they deserve a better future, they really do,” She added.
Asked what message she had for Somalis, Joanna Reid posed, before carefully picking her words.
“I want to tell Somalis to keep talking to each other. Somalis need a political settlement with each other because no amount of international assistance can make that happen. Somalis need to make that happen for themselves,” DFID Somalia boss Joanna Reid said with a grin, before boarding her special flight back to the Somalia capital, Mogadishu.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Somalia returns Black Hawk Down remains to the US.

“America is Somalia’s biggest supporter and one of our closest allies. The American government has recognized the Federal Government of Somalia and is actually helping to train our forces and is also at the forefront in helping to reconstruct back Somalia. We have nothing to give them back and the least we could do is hand over the remains of the chopper to the government,” Prime Minister Shirdon said.

Mogadishu – Sometimes in September this year, Somalia allowed an American war museum to have the remains of a US fighter chopper brought down 20 years ago by clan militias in Mogadishu during the disastrous 1993 United Nations International Somalia Mission (UNISOM) vividly captured by the famous Hollywood movie Black Hawk Down.
The remains – which have been collecting dust at a Mogadishu backyard near the famous Bakara market – was donated to the Special Operations War Museum in Fort Bragg, USA, bringing to a close one of Somalia’s most written about story of its violent past about the bringing down of the US fighter chopper Black Hawk in Mogadishu on October 3, 1993 during the onset of the civil war in Somalia.
Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon said Somalia currently enjoys a cordial working relationship with the US government and that out of the American goodwill shown to the Somali people and his government in these tough economic times, Somalia decided to hand over the remains of the American chopper to a war museum in order to give the American public an opportunity to view the remains.
“America is Somalia’s biggest supporter and one of our closest allies. The American government has recognized the Federal Government of Somalia and is actually helping to train our forces and is also at the forefront in helping to reconstruct back Somalia. We have nothing to give them back and the least we could do is hand over the remains of the chopper to the government,” Prime Minister Shirdon said.
The remains were shipped from Mogadishu in July with the help of an American private security firm belonging to an American couple living in Mogadishu whose philanthropic action is likely to improve relations between US and Somalia.
AMISOM peacekeepers in Somali also took part in the historic event by crucially safeguarding the Black Hawk Down remains at the Mogadishu seaport during its shipment.
Speaking from the US city of Minnesota in Minneapolis where he is attending a Somalia Diaspora consultative meeting organized by AMISOM, Ambassador Mahamat Saleh Annadif, the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission and head of AMISOM hailed Somalia for its thoughtful decision to hand over the remains to the US government.
“Somalia is slowly recovering from its dark past and I am so pleased to see such a rare benevolent act from the Somalis to return the remains of the Black Hawk Down to its rightful owners, the American people. We hope that this will finally rest the sad events that transpired during that dark history of Somalia and instead usher in a peaceful era in Somalia. AMISOM is ready to stand with the Somalis in their quest to a peaceful and prosperous Somalia,” Ambassador Annadif said.
America’s most watched CBS television series 60 minutes, documented the story behind the shipment of the Black Hawk Down remains from Somalia to the US and aired it days before and after the October 3, 20th anniversary of the Black Hawk Down incident.
The latest gesture from the Somalis is likely to help its cause of seeking more support for their fledgling government that needs massive support as it struggles to battle out the Al-Qaeda affiliated Al-Shabaab militants who are out to destabilize the country which slowly healing from the effects of one of Africa’s longest civilian conflicts.
Ordinary Americans working in Mogadishu welcomed the move.
“This brings to a close the Black Hawk Down saga and opens a new door of friendship between Somalia and America. The Somali gesture will help with the healing process and acceptance by family members who lost their beloved ones in Somalia when the chopper was brought down. We can only say thank you so much to the Somali people for their thoughtful gesture, I hope my fellow Americans will laud this rare gesture from the Somalis,” said a lady US expatriate working in Somalia who did not wish to be named.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

AMISOM trains first ever professional Somalia firefighters

“It means a lot for 20 young people to receive such an important training and to go back home to transfer the knowledge to others, it is so beneficial for the country. The benefit is that we have come from a point where we did not have these skills we have acquired and we have had challenges, but now we have the technical know-how to counter fire disasters,” Mohamed Abdullahi, the groups team leader added.

The AMISOM United Nations Trust Fund has helped train the first ever professional Somalia firefighters outside the Horn of African country after 20 young members of the Somalia Emergency and Rescue Team took part in a two week long high level training in Kenya as part of the ongoing efforts to restore peace and stability in war-ravaged Somalia.
Just like other national institutions, the Somalia Fire and Emergency Rescue Unit premises and equipment’s in Mogadishu were looted and property destroyed by unknown assailants during the last 20 years of civil unrest in Somalia.
With the help of the Somalia government, international partners and AMISOM, the unit is slowly being resuscitated by giving them the necessary expertise and tools they require to prevent fire and respond to any other emergency disasters.
The training in Nairobi was overseen by experienced fire fighters from the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) with class-based theory lessons as well as practical fire-fighting techniques on how to attack airport fire which was held at an open field in the busy Jomo Kenya International Airport as planes landed and flew away during the fire drill.
“Airport Fire Fighting is a bit advanced, it is more technical because you have to deal with an aircraft with passengers on board and there is a lot of fuel and it is moving. So when it touches down, they you expect a lot of problems. And the fire is abrupt, it builds up very fast and people can inhale toxic gasses from within or even hot air,” Francis Ndeleva, one of the KAA Fire and Rescue Instructors said.
Talking of hot air and toxic fumes, some of the Somali trainees experienced near fatal incident in the last fire they tried to put off in Mogadishu in September last year prior to getting any training after several firefighters became unconscious from inhaling toxic form they were using to extinguish a fire caused by burning fuel at a petrol station.
At the time, they said they were not aware inhaling form was toxic.
But now that they have been equipped with the necessary knowledge and hopefully with the right gear, they are ready to face off any challenges and a raring to go.
“Several of our colleagues collapsed last year when we were still new to this risky but crucial job of being a firefighter. We are so glad to AMISOM, our government and the UN for sending us for the first ever training outside Somalia. We are happy to return home with a new set of skills and the public in Mogadishu can now peacefully sleep since we are ready to save their lives anytime,” Mohamed Sahal, Co-ordinator of the Somalia Emergency Rescue and Fire Fighters said after safely landing back home.
During their hands-on training in Nairobi, the trainers chose a perfect spot at the airport for the young Somali fire fighter next to a rusty but symbolic former Somalia air force military plane used by former Somalia President Mohamed Siyad Bare to flee the civil war in Somalia in early 1991.
As if the presence of their former plane gave them a gusto to do even better, the young Somali trainers extinguished a fire lit for them as part of training and showed their first aid techniques they have learnt by attending to dummies and some of their colleagues mimicking victims strategically placed inside and outside the rusty Somalia military cargo plane.
“It means a lot for 20 young people to receive such an important training and to go back home to transfer the knowledge to others, it is so beneficial for the country. The benefit is that we have come from a point where we did not have these skills we have acquired and we have had challenges, but now we have the technical know-how to counter fire disasters,” Mohamed Abdullahi, the groups team leader added.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Somalia’s once Al-Shabaab slaughter house town now enjoys peace.

If a horror movie about Al-Shabaab’s atrocious reign is ever to be made in Somalia, this little farming town would easily lead as the perfect venue for such a moving movie. In your way to the town, a grave yard is clearly visible just across the road with each grave marked with stones as a possible reminder of the ghastly Al-Shabaab rule.

August 27, AW-DIINLE, Somalia – Gone are the days when residents of the small strategic farming village of Aw-Diinle used to be terrorized by the Al-Qaeda linked Al-Shabaab militants who just a few months ago turned the village into a slaughter house where they would literally dump off dead bodies or simply chop off victims head’s.

Located approximately 274 km northwest of the capital Mogadishu, Aw-Diinle town is the last frontline in Bay region of northwest Somalia occupied by AMISOM peacekeepers from Burundi who together with Somalia forces captured the town 3 months ago from the much loathed rogue Al-Shabaab militants.

Since then, life is slowly returning to normal and residents enjoy an unprecedented peaceful spell as they go about freely tilting their farms and raring livestock. Even the camels of Aw-Diinle are these days looking healthier and produce abundant milk thanks to the stress-free life enjoyed by their keepers.

During a 5 year Al-Shabaab reign from 2009 to earlier this year, the town which lies in the busy and strategic road that connects Somalia to Kenya and Ethiopia was a major economic hub to the militants who used to extort money from the trucks and public service vehicles at a key junction in the town.

Aw-Diinle residents narrated their ordeal under Al-Shabaab saying that the militants chopped off the heads of 45 people including 8 from the same village during their reign which also saw hundreds of other innocent people simply sprayed with bullets and left for the dead and to rot in the open fields.

If a horror movie about Al-Shabaab’s atrocious reign is ever to be made in Somalia, this little farming town would easily lead as the perfect venue for such a moving movie. In your way to the town, a grave yard is clearly visible just across the road with each grave marked with stones as a possible reminder of the ghastly Al-Shabaab rule.

As if they never had enough blood, a few rogue Al-Shabaab members are still baying for more blood as they sometimes sneak into town from their hideout of Dambar village 8 km away from Aw-Diinle at dusk to try and disturb the peace the locals are enjoying by planting bombs and scaring off locals.

This month alone, two improvised explosive devices (IED) planted by suspected Al-Shabaab members at a restaurant frequented by government soldiers and officials have so far been unearthed and safely detonated by AMISOM peacekeepers. The bomb experts had to come all the way from Baidoa since those in Aw-Diinle do have the expertise and necessary gear to detonate the bomb.

Disturbing images of headless bodies, other mutilated bodies including some riddled with bullets often appeared by the day and were a common feature in Aw-Diinle town during the Al-Shabaab reign making life worthless and leaving residents to wonder whether they would live to see the next day let alone ever surviving the ordeal to one day narrate their harrowing story.

“Al-Shabaab slit my sister’s head in Aw-Diinle without any reason whatsoever and refused us to bury her headless body. I also know a male friend of mine who had to part with $3000 USD in order to avoid being killed. I cannot describe the anguish and pain we have gone through as a family because of Al-Shabaab. Every day we pray for their downfall because they are no good at all,” said one young man who did not wish to be named for his own safety.

The local District Commissioner summed up the Al-Shabaab brutality saying that the locals are elated to host the AMISOM peacekeepers who are not only keeping away rogue Al-Shabaab militias away from the tiny farming village but are also helping bring back peace in their locality.

“This town used to be an Al-Shabaab human slaughter house. Al-Shabaab slaughtered 45 people in this village, 8 of whom are from this town. Dead bodies used to appear with daylight and people were so scared. The village is surrounded by graves and used to be a ghost town then. Business is now back and we are slowly recovering thanks to the peace we enjoy. We are so glad AMISOM peacekeepers are here to stay because without them we cannot have the peace we are enjoying now,” District Commissioner Mohamed Abdullahi said.

Coincidentally Aw-Diinle has a religious connotation as “Diin” is faith in Somali language but even that did not clearly deter the militants from shedding innocent blood and turning the town into a slaughter house and an abode of racketeers who killed, maimed and robbed off residents and passengers alike.

Even the poor farmers and pastoralists of Aw-Diinle did not escape the Al-Shabaab jungle rule as they were often forced to bribes their way in order to avoid arrest or torture even. For those who did not have money they would be required to pay up with their farm produce and the little livestock they reared.

The local AMISOM commander Captain Alexis Budomo from Burundi says that they plan to take the fight to Al-Shabaab and is full of praise to the local population for working closely with him by voluntarily informing them of any suspicious characters in order to keep the fragile peace Aw-Diinle town is currently enjoying.

“AMISOM and Somalia National Army took over Aw-Diinle in April. We are here to facilitate activities of Somalia government. We are the last AMISOM soldiers, the last frontline and we plan to expand the area. The populations do their activities because of our help. They do their activities because they are facilitated by AMISOM. The population is very excited of our help,” Captain Alexis said in his remote base overlooking the tiny town of Aw-Diinle.

Asked whether he has enough men and firepower to ward off any Al-Shabaab threat, the AMISOM commander simply smiled.
“We are very well trained to deal with Al-Shabaab. So there is no problem at all,” he confidently responded.
Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Mogadishu breaks Ramadan fast with grenades and mortar shells

Instead of the normal Ramadan menu of samosa, donuts and other Somali cookies and delicacies, Mogadishu residents broke their Ramadan fast on Monday with grenades hurled by suspected Al-Shabaab as soon as the evening maghrib call of prayer was made to indicate breaking of the Ramadan fast.

Normally Muslims break their fast with dates, samosas, donuts and other cookies and light meals, but it looks like the menu slightly changed on Monday night with a series of over a dozen grenade attacks and mortar bomb shells “distributed” by suspected Al-Shabaab adherents who themselves ought to have been breaking their fast at that moment when the call of prayer was made.

“We broke our fast today with grenades and mortar bombs thanks to Al-Shabaab kindness!” quipped one Mogadishu resident who only gave his name as Abdi for fear of reprisals.

“As soon as the call of maghrib prayers was made and we were preparing to break the fast all hell broke loose as Al-Shabaab decided to distribute their grenades and mortar shells across Mogadishu. I think in total there were over 15 explosions all together. These lads (Al-Shabaab) should know that not everyone literally eats grenades like them. I just hope they can leave us alone!” he sarcastically said with a broad grin.

The Somali capital Mogadishu has been enjoying its best peaceful spell since the ouster of the Al-Shabaab militants in August 6, 2011 by a combined Somalia and African Union peacekeepers forces from Burundi and Uganda until very recently.

In the past few months, Mogadishu has witnessed some sporadic attacks, grueling Iraqi-style suicide bombings and some daring commando-like assaults by Al-Shabaab militants like the June 19 United Nations common compound attacks and the April 14 Mogadishu courthouse attack.

Al-Shabaab attacks seems to have spiraled in the Holy month of Ramadan and specifically after their elusive commander Abdi Godane alias Abuu Zubeyr issued a rallying Jihad call to his adherents to increase their attacks during this holy month of Ramadan.

Whatever their plan is, I don’t think Al-Shabaab is going to bring back their old good days especially with such a blatant distribution of grenades and mortar shells during the Holy month of Ramadan.

Hell no, I don’t think I can take grenades for iftar, would you?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Suicide attack targets Turkish in Mogadishu

A suicide car bomb laden with explosives rammed into a Turkish guesthouse where Turkish diplomats and aid workers in Mogadishu were living opposite the Turkish red crescent hospital and the their embassy in the seaside Somali capital city in a spate of increased violence witnessed in Mogadishu

just hours after a remote controlled roadside bombed killed another Somali government official in a spate of renewed violence by suspected Al-Shabaab operatives.

This is not the first time for the Turkish to be targeted in Mogadishu presumably because of their increased presence and much fancied and visible aid and assistance to the Somali people.

Al-Shabaab recently said it was increasing its attacks in Somalia during the holy month of Ramadan and true to their words thhave carried out attacks against government forces and African Union peacekeepers in Mogadishu, Baidoa, Kismayu and Beletweyne in a synchronized manner aimed at undermining the little peace the Somalis have been enjoying in the recent past.

There is something with missed opportunities in Somalia that does not augur well with me. Every time the right step is taken to correct the past mistakes and things start moving smoothly someone somewhere who is probably NOT happy with seeing Somalia back on its feet pulls a plug and erodes all the good work dampening people's hopes.

Whether "that bad person" is Al-Shabaab or whether its somewhere else is yet to be clear and come what may one day the Somalis will know who the bastard is and he or she will be shamed.
Thursday, June 20, 2013

Al-Shabaab commanders allegedly killed in bloody infighting

One day after Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for a suicide attack in the UN Common compound in Mogadishu, the group’s leadership is said to have clashed in a deadly gun battle on Thursday in the seaside town of Barawe.

Security sources say that forces loyal to Al-Shabaab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane aka Abu Zubeyr twice attacked another group of rival Al-Shabaab militants including foreign fighters led by Maalim Ali aka Ibrahim Afghani.

The night and down attack in Barawe town 200 km south of the capital Mogadishu resulted in a number of casualties. In a bid to prevent the news of their clash the attackers reportedly cut off telecommunication systems in Barawe making it near impossible to get reliable information.

Unconfirmed reports indicate that Senior Al-Shabaab commander Afghani is among those apparently killed. Others reportedly killed include Abu Ayan, a Sudanese militant, Abu Sa’ad a Somali, a Kenyan militant called Abu Hussein, an unknown Spanish and Zanzibari foreign jihadists and another Somali militant called Samatar.

Another Somali man called Hikmater and believed to be Godane’s brother in-law was captured alive and is allegedly set to be executed.

If confirmed, the latest news about Afghani's death as well as the killing of his other comrades will seriously weaken Al-Shabaab and further split the already fractious group whose differences is centered around the hardline tendencies of Godane and Al-Shabaab's treatment of the Somali public including some callus suicide attacks that killed many innocent civilians attracting condemnation from even some Al-Shabaab senior officials.

In March 2012, American jihadist and Al-Shabaab senior commander Omar Shafik Hammami, also known by the pseudonym Abu Mansoor Al-Amriki accused Al-Shabaab of plotting to kill him. In May 2013, Fuad Mohamed Shangole, a senior Al-Shabaab official said that Al-Amriki was killed in Rama cadey area in Bay region.

Sources also confirmed that Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, a former Hizbul-Islam leader is said to be preparing for a showdown with Godane’s Amniyaat hitmen which the Al-Shabaab leader uses to assassinate whoever he considers a threat to his position.

Some local media in Somalia reported that Sheikh Mukhtar Robow Ali aka Abu Mansur, another top Al-Shabaab commander opposed to Godane, was allegedly heading to Baraawe to rescue the besieged Al-Shabaab foreign fighters and Somali commanders. However, it has since been established from his close allies that Abu Mansur is actually in Bakol region and did not travel overnight to Barawe as wrongly reported.

The timing of this attack coincides with a long seething wrangle among Al-Shabaab leadership and will further destabilize the group leading to more hostilities and possibly bloody clashes among its feuding leaders.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Al-Shabaab attacks UN compound in Mogadishu

In yet another brazen attack, Al-Shabaab militias on Wednesday morning attacked the United Nations Common Compound in Mogadishu. The Minister of Interior said 15 people that includes 7 of the attackers died in the attack while 7 others were injured. Local and international media reported high fatalities.

The well coordinated attack caught everyone off guard and seems to have been well choreographed as the militants first blew off a car laden with explosive outside the main gate of the compound before 6 Al-Shabaab fighters wearing suicide belts stormed inside the building and engaged the security guards.

As all the hell broke loose, united nations staffs who were at that time working in various UN bodies inside the compound found themselves between a hard place and a rock with most of them forced to lie down and to take cover from flying bullets and bombs that were being exchanged between the attackers, the guards and a Somali government special force called Alpha together with AMISOM Burundian peacekeepers.

After storming into the compound, 4 of the 6 militants blew themselves up and the remaining two were shot dead by Somali special forces called Alpha and Burundian AMISOM peacekeepers who came to rescue the UN staffs. After securing the compound, all the UN staff were whisked away by the AMISOM peacekeepers into the main peacekeepers located base approximately 200 meters away from the attacked compound.

"I was scanning some documents when I heard the first explosion and I just thought it was somewhere else and leaned to protect the documents I was scanning only to realize moments later that we were actually under attack. I straight away run towards the safe house where I found other colleagues and we stayed there all the time as the fighting raged on. It was so scary,"

The latest attack, which is so similar, in its planning and execution, to a recent attack on a Mogadishu courthouse. In a statement he issued after the attack, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud of Somalia termed Al-Shabaab "a disgrace to Somalia" and warned Somalis to be extra careful in future and work with his government to prevent similar attacks.

"We will sadly be subject to this sort of mindless terrorism for some time, however, and I call upon all citizens to increase vigilance, report suspicious activity and help us to deter and catch these cowardly criminals." The Presidents statement read in part.

Medical sources at Banadir hospital where 18 injured civilians were taken said one of the wounded succumbed to his injuries. The official death toll from the attack is likely to increase and Al-Shabaab, which are affiliated to Al-Qaeda, has already claimed responsibility for the attack.

Nigeria whoops Tahiti for six goals

With all due respect, Tahiti is famous for its participation in the miss world pageant with their exotic beauties than in football as indicated in a recent football match at the ongoing Confederations Cup in Brazil when the heavily built Nigerian Super Eagles whooped them for six goals.

As an ardent soccer fan, my skepticism was proved right when I saw the African Champions Nigeria pitted against the lowly Tahitians, a small south Pacific island famous for its coconuts, exotic beaches and world-beating beauties rather than football.

I could no longer take the beating on behalf of the Tahitians, and just before halftime I went to bed with a scoreboard of 3 – 0 in favor of the Super Eagles of Nigerian.

In the morning, when I saw the game had ended with 6-1 score it was no longer a shocker to me!

None the less, Tahiti’s team of amateurs made history by scoring a goal against the Nigerians in a Confederations Cup tournament. Ranked 138 in the world, Tahiti become the first country in the Oceania region, other than Australian and New Zealand, to lift the Oceania Nations cup last June.

I am sure football can no longer be exciting for the French-speaking Tahitian's come their next game against World and European Champions Spain on Thursday. Football is an unpredictable game but come what may I will definitely not bet on our friends from Tahiti winning against the silky and much fancied Spanish team with the likes of Cesc FaBULOUS and Andres Iniesta in their ranks!

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Power of words: Rise and fall of Al-Shabaab.

I can never think of a word that has changed the course of recent history in Somalia, brought a lot of misery, death and destruction to the poor Horn of African country like the word Al-Shabaab.

Coined from an Arabic word for youth, Al-Shabaab was until recently the biggest political, religious and youth group in Somalia’s history. Its might and repercussions was felt across the region as it went ahead to transform itself into an international movement consisting of almost every nationality and race.

Communications experts across the world often get hoary headed and literally lose hair almost every other night trying to find the right word or words for their key messages in a bid to try and either shape up their narrative or simply sell it to their desirable target audiences.

Whoever thought about the word Al-Shabaab whether by default or chance has suddenly and singlehandedly changed a nation’s course and rightly or wrongfully, depending on your point of reasoning made a huge stride or made the worst mistake of his life.

I vividly remember when the word Al-Shabaab was first started to be used by some officials of the Islamic Courts in late 2006 when the Islamist took over Mogadishu from US-backed warlords.

One of my earliest encounters with the word Al-Shabaab was around July 2006 when the Islamic courts union was recruiting a record hire number of youths – including soldiers switching sides from the government – all volunteering to face off with Ethiopian forces.

I can still remember one of those many gatherings and in particular one that was held at K4 area near Sahafi hotel at a former government hide and skin tannery (Hargaha iyo saamaha) where Sheikh Mukhtar Robow, who was the then Deputy Defense Minister, paraded scores of Somali pro-government militias from Bay region he claimed had switched sides to join the Islamic courts.

While addressing the mostly youthful militias he referred to them as “Al-Shabaab” and also sent out a message to “other Somali Al-Shabaabs” to come out and defend their country.


Today, nearly 7 years since their rebirth, the name Al-Shabaab still sends chills across people’s spine. Just like many Somalis I brushed the use of the word Al-Shabaab then telling myself the “Sheikh” had lost it and was trying to imitate Arabs as they often do whenever they speak the few Arabic words they've learned.

I was of course completely wrong as the name become so common among Islamist officials whenever they were addressing crowds and wanted to appeal to the young boys joining their so called Jihad against Ethiopian forces in Somalia.

Before long every teenager in Somalia had completely owned the name and simply wanted to be associated with it and even join the group, in order to learn how to fight and defend his nation from what they were made to believe is a holy war.

The brains behind Al-Shabaab knew the only thing that could easily unite Somalis is the religion and they made sure they used it to serve their own interest.

Their bad intentions paid off and the word they coined to rally the youths become so successful and actually helped them conscript so many youth who later helped them to take over almost the entire southern Somalia territories.

These expansions meant more money for the bosses and business was so good until they were ousted from major commercial cities like Mogadishu, Kismayu and Marka.

As a matter of fact, it is the same name and strategy that is keeping Al-Shabaab in its death bed now despite of the current economic and political turmoil amid irredeemable differences among its top echelon.

Al-Shabaab commander Ahmed Godane is said to be in a hide and seek game of throne with his onetime deputy and former spokesman Abu Mansur aka Sheikh Mukhtar Robow.

The two parted ways over Al-Shabaab’s tactical approach over implementation of the shariah and generally the group’s ruthless treatment of the public. Even their global icon Osama Bin Laden was dragged into this discussion on how bad Al-Shabaab was treating the public as reported by Wikileaks through a letter it claimed the Al-Qaeda chief had sent Godane in response to a previous letter the Al-Shabaab commander wrote to the then most sought man in the world.

Their woos actually started during the Al-Shabaab holly month of Ramadan offensive in 2011 when Mogadishu was slipping from their hands and they mounted their last attack in a bid to salvage some pride and control of the city from Somali government and their backers the African Union peacekeepers.

The Ramadan offensive marked the most deadly ever battles between Al-Shabaab militants and the Somali government forces and African Union peacekeepers. Unfortunately so many combatants and civilians died during the month-long heavy really heavy gun duels and Al-Shabaab lost so many young men during the time.

Unfortunately most of the young men they lost then were from Bay and Bakool region or the Rahanweyn clan of which Mukhtar Robow was their spiritual leader. He went ahead to pull out his remaining forces from Mogadishu and later on from Kismayu in a move that weakened the group. This is the main source of his conflict with Al-Shabaab commander Godane.

Ever since, Al-Shabaab’s vulnerability worsened and they have never recovered from that defeat and as a matter of fact have never since then ever pulled off any major military success -- Apart from cowardly suicide attacks and occasional ambush attacks -- in the battle field or even tried to successfully fend off any incursions by government forces and AMISOM peacekeepers in the areas they control.

As if to show how weak and vulnerable Al-Shabaab is getting, several incidents clearly point to tough times ahead for the group.

A former Somali trader in the Hiiran region -- where Al-Shabaab is still present in several pockets -- recently told my source how broke they were. The businessman told the Al-Shabaab man he only had $30 of which he send them only for the Al-Shabaab militia to call me saying how great they were as they had gone without food for a day.

And just recently this week, a security source in Baidoa, a south-central Somali town, reported of a racial division among some Al-Shabaab forces wrangling over collected taxes. The race division was between those with hard hair or Bantus and those will silky or soft hair. Both groups are Somalis.

This is so interesting because before the rise of Al-Shabaab the Somali bantus were actually looked down and in many occasions harshly treated by the majority soft or silky haired Somalis. As if to give the minority clans a breather, Al-Shabaab outlawed tribalism and treated everyone all equal. At least as PR gimmick as it has now emerged!

In reality, they went ahead to empower the minority clans by training, arming them and giving them an opportunity to revenge against past injustices. Talk of the hunter turned hunted or Tom and Jerry if you are into the animation movies!

The latest race division is a totally new development in the widening irreparable differences among Al-Shabaab, which is now simply a shell of the once dreaded group that called the shots in Somalia. After here, the only place they can go and are actually so fast heading to is oblivion and only to be read in history books for all the wrong reasons.
Sunday, June 16, 2013

Balotelli, the black player Italians love to hate

He is a young footballer, who is rich and a real black talent and for your information is Italian by nationality. His name is Mario Balotelli. As if he knows how Italians are naturally so proud, Balotelli knows how to work them up whenever he downs the blue Azzuri colors of the Italian national team jersey.

Balotelli on Sunday June 16 scored Italy's winning goal against Mexico in the 2013 Confederations cup hosted by Brazil. Straight away after scoring an opportunistic goal, the young Balotelli jerked off his shirt as if passing a message to his Italian team mates as well as the thousands of rowdy Italian fans who thronged the famous Maracana stadium in Rio De Janeiro to watch the game.

Racism has dogged international football despite tough sanctions and actions from the world football body FIFA. Looking at how Balotelli is suddenly the darling of Italians for his exquisite touches and his goal-poaching African instincts it would have been ideal for the hot-headed Ghanian born AC Milan forward to be used as a living example of how racism has no place in today's world soccer.

Whether they like him or not, Balotelli is a black player Italians would love to hate but cannot dare simply because of his unique contribution to their team and his big ego that somehow matches their own pride. I love the way God balances everything!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Good old Mogadishu is open for business

By Guled Mohamed
June 8 2013 - Today, I had a sumptuous lunch of marinated fish, rice and a glass of really refreshing grape fruit at Liido beach in Mogadishu's pristine white sandy beaches together with two Somali friends and a foreign colleague who was visiting Mogadishu for the first time.

As we drove towards Lido beach, my colleague could not believe how the old central business district (CBD) of Mogadishu was destroyed. He was so sympathetic and hysterical that he almost shed a tear. However, the beauty that lay in his eyes when we finally arrived at Lido beach wiped out the damage and destruction he had empathized about a few minutes ago when he saw the ghost city of Mogadishu.

In reality, Liido beach is actually behind the ruins and rubles of a that ghost city that once used to be Mogadishu's upmarket market city.

I have always been amazed by my people's audacity and you can never argue about their resilience either. Surviving 20 years of anarchy after anarchy is not a walk in the park. The Somalis have literally fought each other using anything and everything they laid their hands on. As a matter of fact, Somalis were so good at modifying weapons to the point that they mounted anti-aircraft missiles and machine guns on pickup trucks famously known as technical. The rest is history as the saying goes.

What strikes you as soon as you arrive these days in Mogadishu is the huge construction boom ongoing almost across the seaside Somali city as well as the traffic jams in the main streets. As if that is not all, emergence of street lights, road works and other ongoing rehabilitation works coupled with the generally vigor and vitality of the Somalis as they go about building their shuttered lives and their bombed out capital city is simply encouraging if not mesmerizing.

Mogadishu is officially open for business. The world knows this and so is the United Nations as well as western powers.

Turkey has literally moved there as the sight of Turkish agencies and professional working in Mogadishu has suddenly risen so fast since Turkish Prime Minister Tayep Erdogan become the first foreign leader to visit Mogadishu after over 20 years of war, death and destruction.

His visit seems to have opened the doors for Somalia and since then businesses have spurred and the local economy is slowly emerging from its deathbed thanks to the foreign investment and goodwill pouring into Mogadishu.

As if the rest of the western world were envious of the Turkish presence in Mogadishu. Suddenly, almost every other country that matters in this world started appointing ambassadors and envoys to Somalia and even went to the point of recognizing the Somali government for the first time since the ouster of Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

The UN did not want to miss out too, it has just re-branded itself from the small-scale United Nations Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) to a new, bigger and better United Nations Mission in Somalia or UNSOM headed by a former British diplomat.

For the first time in so many years there are daily fully booked flights to Mogadishu from Nairobi including a Turkish airline flight that plies Mogadishu to Istanbul route via Dubai. The number of African troops contributing countries has also suddenly grown initially from just 2 to 5.

Everything in Somalia seems to be growing these days, including its unrecognized currency the Somali shilling which has suddenly appreciated against the US dollar from 33,000 per dollar down to almost halfway at 18,000.

Suddenly life in Mogadishu is never the same again and residents have fast adapted to that reality. Many are turning their houses into guest houses and lodgings to accommodate and benefit from the huge influx of people jetting into Mogadishu. Somalis in the diaspora have literally moved back home and are leading in the reconstruction and rebuilding of their war-torn country.

So what's the fuss about Somalia and why has the world suddenly fell in love with this barren country? A young porter at the Aden Ade International airport in Mogadishu summed up everything for me as we chewed the evening away.

"We have of oil, uranium, a very fertile land for agriculture, Africa's longest coastline with so much fish that is enough for everyone, the most camels in the world as well as our geographical location is so strategic that it is closer for a ship to sail through us to go to Europe and the Americas from Australia and southern Asia. In which country can you get all that? And why do you think we fought?" he sarcastically asked.

I wish I knew the answer.

Do you know? Please tell us?
Monday, March 25, 2013 0 comments

Football – Kenya’s fitting response to Nigerian hospitality

By Guled Mohamed

There has been a cold war waged by football fanatics in the cyberspace a few days prior to the World Cup qualify match between Nigeria and Kenya which ended in a one-all score line draw.

The reason why this particular football match got so much media play and dominated the cyberspace especially on twitter where Kenyan and Nigerian fans exchanged unpleasant words was simply because the Kenya delegation complained of mistreatment and neglect by their Nigerian hosts.

News clips of the Kenyan players practicing in an alley and corridors of a school in Calabar, a humid coastal town in Nigeria instead of a football stadium spread like bushfire in Kenya irking so many fans who thronged twitter and other cyberspace platforms to express their shock and dismay on the unpleasant treatment the Harambee Stars, Kenya's national football team received in Nigeria.

The Harambee Stars were not received by any official from the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) upon arrival in Lagos and only told the match was in Calaba - which has a discriminatory root - and that they could not be flown there since there was no flight until Thursday forcing the Stars to be lodged in a substandard hotel belonging to an NFF official.

The next day they were not accorded a play ground forcing the players to do a light training in a dusty pavement at Ajao Estate Primary School in a Lagos suburb.

To the surprise of many fans, when the game finally kicked off in Calabar several days later, the Harambee Stars nearly made the impossible possible by scoring the first goal against the much fancied and superstar-laden Super Eagles of Nigeria, who by coincidence are the African champion having won Africa's coveted football trophy, the Cup of Nation on February in South Africa.

It took Nigeria over 90 minutes of normal time to equalize at a time when Kenya were playing without their coach Adel Amrouche who was sent to the stands by referee from Botswana for complaining too many a times!

Now that the return match in Kenya is expected to be a fiery duel, I have the following suggestion to the Kenya Football Federation (KFF) which I believe would be fair to our Nigerian comrades given what Harambee Stars went through in Nigeria.

Am suggesting the return match to be played in Garissa town, which in my opinion fits the poor standards and humidity our Harambee Stars were made to undergo in "Colour Bar" (Calabar) literally from the mistreatment and other poor match standards they were forced to play under.

For the sake of our Nigerian brothers and sisters, please allow me to give them a state tour of Garissa town. Just like Calabar, Garissa is close to a river and temperatures soar to over 33 degree Celsius during the day. There are commercial flights to Garissa and the only means of transport is roughly driven passenger buses and trucks. However, am sure KFF will be kind enough to hire a private bus for your superstars and accompanying officials for the 5 hour journey across 300 km of shrubs and semi-desert terrain.

Located in the North-eastern part of Kenya, Garissa county borders lawless Somalia to the east and has also recently experienced a fair share of insecurity through grenade attacks and at times deadly gun battles, ambushes and assassinations pitting the police and suspected Al-Shabaab adherents whom I can equate to be the cousins of Boko Haram, the Niger-Delta militants infamously known in Nigerians for their callous acts.

Garissa town is inhabited by ethnic Somalis just like in Somalia and lacks piped water and other social amenities. The Super-Eagles should remember to carry water treatment tablets and containers as the only source of water in Garissa town is the crocodile infested muddy waters of the River Tana!

In terms of sporting facilities, Garissa has no stadium. The only ground available to host an important event of this caliber is the Garissa primary school open-air dusty play ground with two goal-posts. The fans will have to stand around the ground when watching the game and it’s estimated the ground can only hold a paltry 3000 fans and officials. Therefore we only expect a handful of super-eagles fans to attend the game.

The match will have to kick off at exactly 2pm, normally the hottest period in Garissa largely because the town is facing power rationing and electricity cannot be guaranteed. But even if the Kenya Power-LESS Company was too kind to provide power our Garissa primary playing ground has no lighting system. If worse comes to worse we can afford to bring 100 pressure lamps to provide the much needed light should the match go beyond sunset which we do not recommend.

When it comes to the matters of the stomach, our Nigerian friends should expect anjera, camel milk for breakfast, rice and camel meat for lunch and a light meal of rice and beans cooked together for dinner. Camel milk tea is served 24 hours in accordance to the Somali tradition!

By the way we are so grateful to the Nigerians for feeding fufu to our small sized boys which somehow affected their mobility during the match. As you all know Kenya is known for its athletics but that day our boys could not hold their breath for 90 minutes and conceded a late goal thanks to the fufu magic. Anjera is a light pancake-like meal that your heavily built boys find to be snack and hence will have no effect on them except maybe lack of energy.

After the game, the Super Eagles might find themselves dehydrated from the hot and humid playing conditions in Garissa which perfectly fits the same conditions Harambee Stars faced in Calabar.

The only concern though would be a possible bout of malaria on their return home since Garissa is infested with mosquitoes. To avoid such medical complications we highly recommended the Nigerian delegation to seek anti-malarial medication prior to departing to Kenya.

The people of Garissa led by their able governor Nadif, wish to assure the Nigerian delegation of their utmost support before the match. As soon as the match kicks off, they should not be amazed by the silence of the crowd simply because majority of the football mad youngsters and elders here chew khat, a leafy narcotic which calms nerves of khat chewers and makes noise or any form of public disturbance a nuisance. Khat has slightly worse effect but is similar in so many other ways to the kola nuts chewed in Nigeria.

The only time you will probably hear the busy-khat chewing fans shouting and celebrating should be when Kenya scores.

To Our Nigerian brothers, please note that we have nothing personal against you. We only wish to extend a similar kind of treatment to the visiting Super Eagles as the one you accorded our Harambee Stars.

Speaking on the behalf of the people of Garissa and indeed Kenya, it is my belief that KFF will seriously consider our request and give us the honor of hosting the return match between Nigeria and Kenya. We just want to offer the same kind of treatment and service to our visiting Nigerian delegation just like what they offered to Harambee stars.

Oga! Please expect nothing less or more.

Thursday, February 14, 2013 0 comments

Moment of truth

No matter how many children you have been blessed, the feeling that comes with the imminent arrival of another newborn is always is like no other. Having personally been blessed with two gorgeous baby girls, my wife is in labour same as myself from the mixed emotions and joy of waiting to see my third children. I took my wife eight hours ago to hospital but unfortunately was denied the pleasure of seeing her through the excruciating labour pains due to the said hospital's regulations of not allowing partners and family to be with the mother. Even though am miles away, I have barely closed my eyes from a mixed feeling of concern and excitement like never before. As I write this note, I can't wait for daybreak to rush to the maternity ward in anticipation of hopefully seeing our the newest member of my nuclear family. My excitement is growing bigger and bigger as the night crawls away waiting for that everlasting and beautiful moment every father goes through whenever his partner gives birth.