Zooming into the Past


  Armed Factions and Their Moralizing Efforts:

From National Liberation to Clan Sovereignty

 Part II



 USC Chairman Opens Islamic Court in Mogadishu

 Somali Islamic Union’s Qawiyy on Relations with General Aydeed

 Mohamed Abshir : Islamic Group Expelled From Port

 Attacks on U.S. Forces Said Launched by Islamic Groups

 Sunni Leader Calls for Jihad against ‘Infidels’

 General Jilaow Notes Growing Fundamentalist Influence

 Religious, Political Leaders Address Rally

 Oppositionist Seeks Islamic Government, Foreign Pullout

 Islamic Group Calls for `Holy War’ against U.S. Troops



 In post-911 context, the possibility of Islamic clerics taking over Somalia has recently worried the West – particularly the US.  It is primarily this fear that will lead the West to endorse the ambitions and plans of the warlords.  This will give the warlords the capability (both financial and military hardware) to prolong the civil wars in Somalia.  Such frantic post-911 scenario that the West might buy from the Somali warlords is not only misleading but also can have a negative impact on the long term security of the region.

 As the Somali saying of “Fiqi Tolkii Kama Janno Tago” dictates us, there is a thin line between clan factions and Islamists in Somalia.  The history of the emergence of clan-based political/ and armed factions illustrates that factions mobilized their clansmen by utilizing what Roobdoon Forum refers as Islamic Liberation Theology.  Unfortunately, after lack of national consensus, these clan-based factions failed to create an all-inclusive government, which led to fifteen years of intensive but sporadic clan clashes, and ended up to establish Jiffo enclaves.  These clan factions regard their fiefdoms as clan sovereignty, forgetting that the term sovereignty implies responsibility. Here are glimpses of notes (Part II) from Somali faction mobilization techniques:


USC Chairman Opens Islamic Court in Mogadishu


Mogadishu Domestic Service in Somali

1815 GMT 13 Apr 1991


[Excerpt] An Islamic court, which will operate in accor­dance with the holy Islamic religion, was today opened in Mogadishu city by Hussein Ali Shidow, the interim chairman of the United Somali Congress. [Passage indis­tinct] Speaking during the opening ceremony, Mr. Shidow spoke at length on the importance of this court to [words indistinct] therefore, it is the responsibility of judges, clerics, and the people to play their part in the operations of this Islamic court. [passage omitted]


Somali Islamic Union’s Qawiyy on Relations with General Aydeed


 London AL-HA YAH in Arabic

22 Oct 1992 p 7

 [Interview with Sheikh Muhammad Nur Qawiyy, “spokesman for the Somali Islamic Union,” by ‘Abdal­lah al-Haj in Merka, Somalia; date not given]

 [Excerpts] [Al-Haj] In what circumstances was the “Somali Islamic Union” established, and what are its aims?

 [Qawiyy] The Islamic Union was established in 1981 to spread and inform the Somali nation of the Islamic call [al-da’wah al-islamiyah] and to explain the truth about Islam so that the people can have knowledge of their religion. [passage omitted]

 [Al-Haj] Do you receive aid from foreign states or organizations?

 [Qawiyy] We have not sought help from any organiza­tion or state since the Somali Islamic Union’s establish­ment. Most of our young men returned to Somalia after learning the teachings of the Islamic religion. They started individually and then began to unite their action efforts without help from anyone abroad.

 [Al-Haj] It has been reported that Sudan and Iran supply you with arms. What truth is there in this?

 [Qawiyy] Those are false and baseless allegations. We receive no aid from abroad. We rely on ourselves in everything. [passage omitted]

 [Al-Haj] [Somali National Alliance leader] General Mohamed Farah Aydeed has announced that he would adopt the Islamic Shari’ah as a system of government. What is your position toward him?

 [Qawiyy] We have heard Gen. Aydeed say that on several occasions. He said that he would rule in accordance with the Islamic Shari’ah. He met with Islamic leaders and we will meet with him soon. But we have not yet seen any credibility in his orientations, though there are indica­tions which prove his intention. We pray to God to bestow guidance on all Somali leaders.

 [Al-Haj] If Gen. Aydeed calls on the Islamic forces to rally around him, would the Somali Islamic Union respond to his call?

 [Qawiyy] If Gen. Aydeed addresses the call to the Union, we would not reject unity with him or anyone else. This is because cooperation in such a case would be within the framework of establishing right and justice throughout the country in accordance with the Islamic Shari’ah. And in our view, Gen. Aydeed is different from the others, because of his announcement that he would adopt the Islamic Shari’ah as a government program and as a constitution. Some of our brothers met with him and told us that he is for cooperating with the Islamists in establishing right and justice in this society. We judge by intentions, and God knows the secrets. And it seems that the man wants to cooperate with the Islamists in this connection. [passage omitted]


Mohamed Abshir : Islamic Group Expelled From Port


London BBC World Service in English

1705 GMT 23 Jul 1992

[From the “Focus on Africa” program]

 [Text] The Somali Salvation Democratic Front, SSDF, that controls a region in northeastern Somalia has had quite a fight on its hands recently with a group of Muslim fundamentalists known as the Islamic brotherhood. At one time, the armed brothers over took the Port of Boosaaso. The SSDF retook the city, but our last report said there was still a problem wrinkling rebels out of the port area of the town. Well, SSDF spokesman Mohamed Abshir [? Walde] is passing through London and Robin White asked him what the latest was from Boosaaso. Has SSDF the kicked out the brotherhood?

 [Begin recording] [Abshir] Yes, they have been kicked out of Boosaaso altogether. Their actual base was in (Qaw), 20 km out of Boosaaso, but they were physically in control of Boosaaso because they were guarding the Boosaaso Port and the airport and they were running the hospital, so they were very strong in Boosaaso.

 [White] Have you killed them all or expelled them all or what happened?

 [Abshir] No, we have not killed them and we did not want to kill them and that is not really the issue. They have been overpowered by force. Unfortunately, there was a lot of casualties-deaths and wounded-among the fundamentalists, among the SSDF forces, and among the general public.

 [White] You say a lot of people were killed. How many, exactly? Do you know?

 [Abshir] We believe on both sides the death toll was over 600 and the wounded was as much.

 [White] What about damage to the port? Was the port damaged and other things damaged?

 [Abshir] No, fortunately not. The port was not damaged, the airport was not damaged, and electricity stations were not damaged because the SSDF took very careful precau­tions when they were starting the fight against the fundamentalists.

 [White] What lessons have you learned from this?

 [Abshir] Well, the lessons really that have been learned from that is that it does not follow that the presumed enemy comes from another clan or from another region, but that the difference of opinions and ideas and reli­gious ideologies or whatever can cause or present similar threat and danger within a community, within a region.

 [White] Presuming that the SSDF has nothing against Islamists, just this particular group, is it that that’s the problem?

 [Abshir)] Well, Robin, really the issue is not Islam. Somalia, as you know, is an Islamic nation. The Somali people are all Muslims and the region is fundamentally a very Islamic region. But there is a difference between the traditional Islamic leadership in Somalia and in that region particularly and these young men who came with a new Islamic ideology: brotherhood or (al-Itihad) Islam. These are people whose main aim and target was really to take power.

 [White] What is the matter with being power-hungry? Why should they not be the government in your area? Why not?

 [Abshir] I think someone is referred to as power hungry when ... [end recording]


Attacks on U.S. Forces Said Launched by Islamic Groups


Tehran Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Arabic

1630 GMT 3 Sep 1993

 [Excerpt] Reports from Somalia say that the Islamic Somali forces have entered into battles with the U.S. forces. According to independent sources, the military operations against the positions of the international forces are being carried out by Islamic groups, especially the Somali Islamic Union. The sources said that the Islamic forces carry out their operations without coordi­nation with the Somali National Alliance, led by General Mohamed Farah Aydeed. [passage omitted]


Sunni Leader Calls for Jihad against ‘Infidels’


(Clandestine) Radio Mogadishu Voice of the Great Somali People in Somali

1700 GMT 4 Sep 1993

 [Text] Mr. Ali Hashi Muhammad Sahal, who is a member of the Sunni community [orthodox commu­nity], has called on the Somali people to wage legitimate jihad against the infidels, who have rolled up their sleeves to exterminate the Muslim Somalis.

 Ali Hashi, addressing journalists from Voice of the Great Somali People, said that all Muslims have an Islamic culture and also have numerous enemies who aim to obtain [words indistinct]; similarly, it is that policy that the infidels in our country aim to implement. He added that the Islamic religion explicitly states that a Muslim cannot play a neutral role between infidels and Muslims and that if he behaves thus, his faith is questionable.

 Finally, Ali Hashi Muhammad Sahal said that, as was earlier stated by the imam of the Sunni, it is obligatory for [people] to prepare for jihad. He added that he and the Sunni community are prepared to partake in a legitimate jihad against provocative infidels.


General Jilaow Notes Growing Fundamentalist Influence



27 Sep 1992 p 1


[Unattributed report: “Somali Chief of Staff’ General Jilaow: Iran and Sudan Arming Fundamentalists”]

 [Excerpt] London, SAWT AL-KUWAYT – General Ahmad Jilaow [name as transliterated], Chief of staff of the Somali Armed Forces, yesterday indirectly accused Iran and Sudan of involvement in current incidents in Somalia by providing material and military support to the forces of the Somali National Alliance led by Gen. Mohamed Farah Aydeed.

 Gen. Ahmad Jilaow said that the armed forces belonging to interim President Ali Mahdi will confront any circles’ plan to seize power by force.

 Gen. Jilaow admitted that the influence of extremist Islamic groups inside the capital, Mogadishu, and in the town of Marka is growing. He pointed out that hundreds of them were arrested during recent battles.

 Jilaow emphasized that Islamic groups – with Sudan’s and Iran’s support – are actually seeking to topple the regime. And that they recently received huge quantities of arms from Khartoum to help them make their plan a success. [passage omitted]


Religious, Political Leaders Address Rally


(Clandestine) Radio Mogadishu Voice of the Great Somali People in Somali 1700 GMT 7 Nov 1993

 [Excerpt] A huge rally attended by people from districts constituting Mogadishu was today held in the 1 July Independence Square, Mogadishu, to express the desires of the Somali people for peace. The rally was opened with Qur'an verses and a religious sermon, read by Sheikh Abd al-Razzaq Yusuf Adan, who said the pro­tection of the Islamic religion and maintaining peace was of vital importance. He spoke about how the disciples were strict about protecting the Islamic religion and the dignity of Muslims.

 Afterwards, the rally was addressed by Hasan Muhammad Ali, member of the SPM [Somali Patriotic Movement], who spoke about the Somali people’s his­tory and the various problems that the Somali people have endured. He said that the Somali people had been bombed by sophisticated planes for the first time. The reason UN Operation Somalia [UNOSOM] is fighting us, Mr. Hasan Muhammad Ali said, was to ensure that Islamic law was not introduced to govern Somalia.

 Also addressing the rally, Sheikh Muhyidin (Bulhasad), speaking on behalf of the SSDF [Somali Salvation Dem­ocratic Front], spoke about the long struggle for indepen­dence and the blood that had been shed. He said the Somali people needed peace and to come together and resolve the existing conflicts. The rally took place peace­fully. [passage omitted]


Oppositionist Seeks Islamic Government, Foreign Pullout


London AL-HA YAH in Arabic

15 Mar 1993 pp 1, 4


[Report on interview with Abdirahman Sheikh Omar, member of the Somali Islamic Union Executive Committee, by Yusuf Khazim in Addis Ababa; date not given]

 [Excerpts] A Somali “Islamic Union” leader has accused the United States of plundering his country’s natural resources “right in front of the eyes of the starving.” He demanded that all foreign forces withdraw from Somalia.

 Abdirahman Sheikh Omar, member of the Union’s Executive Committee, told AL-HAYAH on the eve of the Somali “national accord” conference to be held today in Addis Ababa that his faction will demand the formation of an Islamic government in Somalia. And that it will not participate in a government headed by any of the warlords, including interim President Ali Mahdi Mohamed and Somali National Alliance leader General Mohamed Farah Aydeed. [passage omitted]

 In an interview with AL-HAYAH he said that the civil war “has created an enormous feeling of enmity among the factions and tribes. The warlords have differing interests and aims, and reconciling them is a difficult task and requires great efforts. This is why we do not expect the conference to produce important or major results.”

 Asked whether the Union would participate in a coali­tion government headed by a warlord, he said: “We are demanding the formation of an Islamic government which applies God’s law. We believe that such a govern­ment is the only one which can resolve the crisis and eliminate all barriers separating Somalis. We do not make it conditional that we be represented in it. We will not participate in a government headed by any of the warlords. We set the condition that the head of the government adhere to Islamic rule. [passage omitted]

 Asked whether the Union’s participation in a conference sponsored by the United Nations means its agreement to the presence of international forces in Somalia, he said: “Our participation in the conference does not mean that we have abandoned our previous position, which rejects ‘the foreign forces’ intervention in our country. We still believe that these forces do not serve Somalia’s interests. The foreign forces’ presence will be one of the issues to be discussed at the conference. We will present our position to the participants and demand the foreign forces’ withdrawal from the country. This is because the U.S. forces are plundering Somalia’s natural resources right in front of the eyes of starving Somalis and tribal fighting is raging right in front of the eyes of the international forces, but they are interested in nothing except securing the safety of the international organiza­tions. Chaos dominated Mogadishu when I left it, and many areas are still witnessing tribal fighting, but the international forces have not budged. The international forces came and collected the arms from ordinary people and left the other arms in the hands of thieves and the militias. As a result, robbery and attacks on the ordinary people who have been disarmed have increased. And the U.S. forces have killed about 100 Somalis, among them a 13-year-old boy, since they entered the country in December.”

 Asked how and when the Americans plundered Soma­lia’s resources and what resources have been plundered, he said: “Somalia has several areas rich in natural resources like precious metals and oil. And we have evidence that the Americans have stolen these resources from several locations: The first location is Burhakaba mountain near Baidoa, where U.S. companies are pros­pecting for precious metals and move them in huge sealed containers escorted by a large number of U.S. military vehicles.

 “The second location is in the town of Shalaamboot in Lower Shebele area, some 70 km from Mogadishu. Five U.S. companies are moving sand containing precious metals under the protection of U.S. forces.

 “The Americans are controlling the most important seaports and airports in Somalia and can steal whatever they want from the company without any observation. We have no government or authorities, and the people are preoccupied by the tragedies of war and starvation. The Americans are exploiting this situation.”

 He revealed that the oil company Conoco has been working “for a long time since the crisis to move oil from three locations in the northeast of the country. They are the Garowe oilfield, Halhal oilfield in the town of Las Anod in the Sool area, and Loya Addei near the port of Seylac on the Djibouti-Somali border.” [passage omitted]


Islamic Group Calls for ‘Holy War’ against U.S. Troops


AB0308171093 Paris AFP in English

1659 GMT 3 Aug 1993


[Excerpt] Mogadishu, Aug 3 (AFP)-An Islamic organization Tuesday [3 August] called for a jihad or holy war against the “satanic” U.S. troops stationed in Somalia in handbills circulated in southern Mogadishu.

 The “Voice of the Vanguard of the Somali Islamic Salvation” called on its countrymen to “launch a holy war against the satanic troops of the United States,” adding that “every Moslem is obliged to take part in this war.” The leafleting marks the first publicity stunt by the organization, which Somalis believe is close to fugitive Somali warlord General Mohamed Farah Aydeed.

 Local intellectuals said last week that Aydeed’s supporters were trying to whip up Islamic fervor to swell support for his crusade against UN forces in Somalia. Rallies staged twice a week by about 2,000 Aydeed sympathizers in the warlord’s south Mogadishu stronghold are taking an increasingly religious tone, they said.

 A dozen Moslem leaders at the front of Saturday’s rally brandished Qur’an and accused U.S. soldiers of dese­crating and looting mosques during attacks on Aydeed militiamen in June and July. [passage omitted]


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