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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Mother-in-law jokes in Mogadishu: satirist shows other side of Somalia | World news | The Guardian

Mother-in-law jokes in Mogadishu: satirist shows other side of Somalia | World news | The Guardian

A mother is justifying her son’s divorce, absolving him from all blame. “These girls of 2014 are wasteful youths,” she says, talking on the phone and shaking her head. “The one my son Weheliye was married to, all that one knew of cooking was cornflakes. I told him: ‘Divorce this one, she’s garbage!’ Now you should see how he’s put on weight and has gotten more handsome.”
The comedy video cuts to a singing, dancing young man with model looks and a six pack. The humour is universal but also very specific: the sketch, “How Somali mother-in-laws justify their son’s divorce”, is the work of a young Somali woman bringing light relief to a country traumatised by war.
Ugaaso Boocow, 27, is becoming one of the country’s first social media stars with more than 50,000 followers on Instagram. She posts everything from social satires of Somali family life to photos of Mogadishu’s buildings, beaches and restaurants as the city slowly heals. There are also glamorous pictures of Boocow herself in brightly coloured hijabs, including a recent one from Valentine’s Day featuring her husband with flowers and teddy bear.

“Comedy, like any form of art, is a way to tell a story,” she said. “I’m just telling a lighthearted story but comedy has a way of showing you your flaws and what’s wrong with society. You’re laughing at it knowingly because it’s true.”
Boocow is among thousands of Somali expats who have returned home since the Islamist militant group al-Shabaab was prised from Mogadishu in 2011. She was two years old when she left for Canada with her grandmother in the early 1990s as the country descended into two decades of civil war and chaos. Her parents divorced at a young age and, while her father also moved to Canada, her mother stayed behind.
Boocow grew up in Toronto, gained a geography degree, and lived in Colombia for two years but still felt the tug of her birthplace. On returning to Canada, she met an uncle who assured her Somalia’s security was much improved. She decided to go back last year and see her mother for the first time in almost a quarter of a century, though the two had kept in contact by phone.
“I thought I’d feel hurt, like I would have an outburst, making her feel ashamed for abandoning me,” Boocow recalled. “But I was so tired after the journey that I just felt relieved. It was like: ‘Can we go home now?’”
Then there was the impact of Somalia itself. “I was very happy to come back. I’d decided to come and see it with my own eyes. When I saw the ruined buildings, I felt hope that we could rebuild them. I had zero memories but storytelling has a way of putting pictures in your head. I felt like I belonged. I did not feel like an outsider. Even though I didn’t know the streets, I felt like I knew where I was going.”

Mogadishu is in the throes of a construction boom with money pouring in from Turkey and other donors and a dawning sense of hope, despite recent setbacks such as the suicide bombing of a hotel.
“It’s a moment where you have to take advantage of what’s happening here,” mused Boocow, who fell in love and married soon after arriving. “Since I arrived here I haven’t heard a single bullet go off and I’ve only heard one explosion. But my father has a completely different perspective. He’s really scared and doesn’t want to come to Somalia.”
When Boocow searched for Somalia on Instagram, she would be met by images of cows, sheep and grass. She took up her camera and set about showing a different side, snapping dishes of food and the haunting beauty of Mogadishu’s many half-collapsed buildings. “I think people are hungry for these things, like me.
“Al-Shabaab are still roaming around freely and people generally don’t like to have their faces photographed, so I take pictures of the ruins. They make me nostalgic. I remember my grandmother’s stories: this used to be a university or that used to be a prominent edifice. It makes me imagine how the city would have looked if the war didn’t happen.”
She is also making the tongue-in-cheek videos in which she performs in Somali sprinkled with Arabic, Italian and English. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. “It makes me happy that I make people laugh. They write to me and say they can relate to it. I was so surprised I have an audience here in Mogadishu. Quite recently a girl here contacted me to ask if I could be her wedding photographer. The minister of finance came up to my husband and said, ‘I love your wife’s videos, tell her to keep up the good work!’”
Yet Boocow, who works as a civil servant, admitted: “I’m extremely reserved in real life and very shy. I get very embarrassed when people come up and say: ‘I love that video you did.’”
Many of the sketches focus on the character of a Somali mother and say something about the role of women in society. Boocow explained: “Inside the household the woman is revered but the moment she gets ambitious and wants to go into the political sphere, it’s: ‘No, you can’t do that.’
“They think women have a certain place in the culture. If I don’t think it’s right, I have a responsibility to speak against it, for example by using comedy. I’m not banging a drum; it’s always goofy and silly and not serious, but it should be taken seriously.”
Her next ambition is to organise a comedy night. Laughter is a much-needed medicine in Somalia, she believes, after the long years when all roads led to despair. “Somalis have a great sense of humour. They’re able to laugh at each other and with each other. Somalis will make fun of you but they don’t want you to take it in a vicious way. If you have a big nose, for instance, they’ll give a nickname like ‘Mr Longnose’ and use it every time they see you.”

Asking Allah for Forgiveness for Our Sins | IqraSense.com

Asking Allah for Forgiveness for Our Sins | IqraSense.com

Assalamu-Alaikum and Greetings!

The two ahadith and stories in the post below shed light on Allah’s happiness when we ask Him for His forgiveness for our sins. The stories also show that Allah is always looking for ways to forgive his believing slaves – we just need to make that strong intention to look inward, recognize our sins, and then to repent for those sins and ask Him for His forgiveness.

Just imagine all the blessings (in this life and the hereafter) that will be unlocked for you once your sins are forgiven!

These examples and stories serve as a lesson for all, and especially for those who continue to turn a blind eye on their sins. The important thing to remember is that the intention to repent must be planted in our hearts as soon as possible because no one knows when our final time is going to come.

You can also review the article on ways one can use to repent to Allah and ask for His forgiveness

US Banks May Destroy Somalia's Economy | Al Jazeera America

US Banks May Destroy Somalia's Economy | Al Jazeera America

On Feb. 6, 2015, U.S. banks stopped money transfers to Somalia because of strict regulations set by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency over concerns of money laundering and funding for terrorist organizations. The decision has left Somalis who depend on cash remittances for survival without critical financial support. Remittances bolster the local economy and serve as a major source of income for families and individuals.
The Somali diaspora sends home more than $1.2 billion annually — a sum larger than foreign aid and investments combined. Remittances are a crucial component of the Somali economy, making up more than half of the nation’s gross national income. An estimated 73 percent of Somali households use the cash transfers to pay for food. Remittances help build schools and hospitals and pay for school fees. Nearly 80 percent of Somalis receive remittances from a single person, highlighting the dependence on the money transfers from abroad. Somalis have created efficient money wiring agencies, known as hawalas, to get around the lack of a formal banking system in Somalia. It has been the country’s rare lifeline over the last two decades.
Major U.S. banks stopped wiring money to Somalia years ago. The final holdout, the Merchants Bank of California, handles roughly 80 percent of the remittances from the U.S. to Somalia. But it had been under pressure from wary regulators to monitor the flow of cash transfers there. The bank decided to shutter the service to avoid potential penalties. But there is no evidence linking hawalas to extremist groups. The pre-emptive measure was made at the expense of millions of people in Somalia.
The end of bank money transfers, the only legal means for Somalis in the U.S. to send money to needy families back home, has rattled the Somali-American community. Community leaders and youth organizers are working with elected officials to exert pressure on U.S. banks and regulators.
“A disruption in remittances could reverse the limited gains that the Somali government and the international community has made to rid Somalia and the greater Horn of Africa of terrorism,” a group of U.S. lawmakers, said in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on Feb. 6. Led by Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., whose district includes the largest Somali-American population, the lawmakers are scheduled to meet with Kerry on Feb. 27. But members of the Somali community say the response lacks the urgency that the situation demands.
Over the last few weeks, the media have approached Somalis to help explain the effects of halting remittances. But unsurprisingly, U.S. media are primarily interested in an anti-terrorism narrative that characterizes its coverage of Somalia and its diaspora. Years of conflict have left Somalia without a central banking system. Somalia is now asking U.S. banks to reconsider their decision.
“We need to find a permanent solution to keep open this vital humanitarian lifeline,” Somali Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke told the Associated Press on Feb. 12. Such a solution requires a concerted effort from the community at large. Building awareness continues to be critical to avert potential humanitarian crisis.
Negative media coverage has further contributed to linking Somalis and remittances with terrorism.
In response to this situation, we created the hashtags #IFundFoodNotTerror and #Somalis4Remittances on Twitter to raise awareness. The campaign was widely received on Twitter and Tumblr and has been instrumental in emphasizing the urgency of the crisis. Young Somalis have taken to social media to voice their concerns about the consequences of halting remittances for their families and communities in Somalia. Activists have also expressed outrage at the U.S. policies and the global narrative on the “war on terrorism.”

Rebuilding the homeland

Terrorism has been used to label and simplify Somali experiences. Somalis carry the dual weight of being both black and Muslim. As with other Muslim communities, Somalis have been increasingly targeted since 9/11. In Toronto, for example, funding has gone into the surveillance of Somali communities, a theme that echoes across North America. Remittances serve as another pretext to monitor and problematize the community.
The hawala system was built around trust and community connectedness. Equating cash transfers to families with funding for terrorist activities negates its effect on assisting with the costs of housing, school, medication, food and other necessities. Negative media coverage has further linked Somalis and remittances with terrorism.
The Somali diaspora is rallying behind efforts to rebuild the country, not least through the money provided by remittances. The U.S. is policing and criminalizing a lifeline for Somalia’s economic stability and rebuilding efforts. The U.S. banks’ decision to halt money transfers to the country gives little consideration to Somalia’s vulnerability and the impending humanitarian crisis.
However, the U.S. is not the only country policing Somali remittances. In 2013, Barclays Bank in London cracked down on Dahabshiil, the most widely used money transfer provider in Somalia. Unlike with the abrupt cessation in the U.S., Barclays won an interim injunction to keep the accounts open until Dahabshiil could find an alternative banking solution. Barclays closed Dahabshiil’s accounts in 2014. Australia’s Westpac bank is planning to close its accounts with Somali hawalas next month.
Somalia is making great economic and political strides after years of lawlessness. Ending the flow of remittances will jeopardize the country’s reconstruction efforts. Studies have shown that remittances are one of the most effective forms of sustaining development in Somalia.
Despite recent troubles, Somalis from all walks of life remain optimistic about the country’s future. Cutting off remittances will extinguish the feelings of hope for Somalia’s stability and reconciliation. The United States is one of the largest sources of humanitarian aid to Somalia. It has provided nearly $230 million in the last year alone. On Feb. 25, President Barack Obama nominated the first U.S. ambassador to Somalia in more than 20 years, underscoring Washington’s deepening engagement. The suspension of remittances is counterproductive to U.S. efforts to eliminate terrorism and support Somalia’s progress. More important, it will likely to lead to starvation, economic and political instability.
U.S. lawmakers, bank directors, regulators, hawala operators and Somali community leaders should work together to find a lasting solution to avert this financial crisis. Ultimately, cutting off this lifeline is not a viable solution. A new method of money transfer can do both: maintain the flow of remittances to Somalia and ensure that the money doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.
Britain’s Safer Corridor initiative provides a good starting point. The British government is working with the World Bank to closely monitor the flow of funds to Somalia. The initiative requires banks to exercise due diligence and Somali recipients to furnish biometric ID cards. Along with the creation of a centralized banking system in Somalia, a similar measure can help alleviate the U.S. regulator’s anxiety over remittances to the country.
Hamda Yusuf is a poet based in Seattle. She writes about identity, blackness and survival.
Ifrah F. Ahmed is a law student in New York and is a co-founder and an editor of Araweelo Abroad magazine.
Zahra Mohamud is an editor, a writer and a publicist based in Vancouver, Canada.
 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Braamfisherville, Soweto: Burning man. Burning Somali Man. | Daily Maverick

Braamfisherville, Soweto: Burning man. Burning Somali Man. | Daily Maverick

A meeting held by Soweto business owners to discuss foreign-owned businesses operating in the area saw tempers flare as the agenda focused only on how to expel them. When one of the locals received a phone call saying his sister had been assaulted by a Somali shop owners, a mob formed which then rampaged through Snake Park and Braamfischerville, torching foreign-owned stores and setting one man alight. BHEKI C SIMELANE was there.
Speakers at the Orlando meeting had just one thing on their minds and that was how to get rid of foreign shop owners working in Soweto. Over 400 people were there but notably, not one foreign owner was in attendance.
“This meeting is about expelling foreign shop owners, so if you have a different agenda you can organise your own meeting in which you would preside,” said one local business owner.
It was midway through the highly-charged discussion that one of the business owners, a South African from Snake Park, announced that he had just received a call that Somali business owners had assaulted his sister. The news caused a hot rage. The Somali nationals were reportedly in possession of new machetes, they heard. The event broke up hurriedly as everybody dashed to Snake Park.
On arrival to the grounds of the Snake Park police station, where the foreign business people had sought protection, a stone fight ensued, with about 16 Somali nationals fighting back by throwing stones at the locals from inside the premises. Free flying stones damaged cars belonging to the Somalis and locals.
The local business owners who had called the original meeting, together with some community members, moved on to the store belonging to the Somali national accused of the assault. Some of the crowd gathered in front of the store started throwing stones inside. Soon after, a gunshot went off from inside the store. This infuriated the mob who asked police officers at the scene to search the store for the gun. They also demanded to know if the gun was illegal, something the cops could not verify even after finding the gun –a nine-millimetre pistol – and a cartridge.
It took about two hours for the police to arrest the suspected Somali shooter, 23 year-old Habib Mohamed Hassan, and three other Somalis, while they frantically tried to hold back the angry crowd. Police officers were not spared from insults and were accused of showing too much respect for the four arrested men.
The crowd in front of the store was baying for the blood of the Somalis. A window at the back of the store was shattered but no looting took place. The area was cordoned off and a police van reversed to the back of the store to take the four suspects away, protecting them from the crowd.
A group of local business people and community members then jumped into several cars and drove off. The convoy of cars used a back route into Braamfischerville. It was as if the actions that followed had been planned beforehand; the crowd even had petrol bombs ready.
As soon as the crowd arrived at the first Somali-owned shop in Braamfischerville phase two, cars stopped and a petrol bomb was thrown inside the store. As flames engulfed the store, which had no name, the convoy moved on to the Simon Tuck Shop, also in Braamfischerville phase two, and threw a second petrol bomb into the store.
It was at this shop that a middle aged Somali middle-aged man manning the store alone was badly burnt on his upper body. His shirt caught the fire from the petrol bomb and before long he was screaming in pain, begging for his life while his abdomen was in flames. The crowd outside kept shouting at him to open the gate to the store but he couldn’t. (His co-workers, apparently not anticipating the violence, had locked him inside the store.) All the while the Somali was screaming in excruciating pain, and the crowd at the back door of the store bayed at him to open the gate.
It was a horrifying scene as the Somali man burnt. On realising he probably doesn’t have keys to open the store gate, some of the journalists at the scene, including this reporter, pleaded with the angry crowd to break down the store gate and let the man go so they could help themselves to groceries without causing further harm. The Somali man, in an apparent effort to save his life, had brought a handful of cash notes together with some airtime. He gave the money and airtime to the people at his door but they wanted more. They then broke down the gate and the Somali, badly burnt and obviously dizzy, finally stumbled outside, crying and begging for his life.
The crowd then helped themselves to everything else in the store before taking off. The convoy of cars then drove off to the next store, some apparently shaken by the incident at Simon Tuck Shop. On arrival at the next store, which also had no visible name, another petrol bomb was thrown in, but it did not go far and little damage was done. A petrol bomb attack on a fifth store in Braamfischerville was foiled by the arrival of a police van. Eventually, police, who had called for back up, confiscated the keys to one of the cars in the convoy, a mini truck.
Not all Braamfischerville residents, however, were pleased by the actions of the attacking mob.
“If you people have issues you must raise those issues on the right platforms. This area has a block committee that you should be engaging instead you come here and burn down our stores. We buy from these people and we will not allow you to do as you please in our area. We’re not even aware of what you are fighting for. What you people from Snake Park are doing is criminal. You are just criminals but we will not allow you to terrorise and kill these people, not in our area, go and do it in Snake Park,” said a woman from Braamfischerville, who refused to give her name.
With Braamfischerville residents siding with the foreign shop owners in their area, aided by the presence of police officers, the attacks died down and some of the mob ran off when they saw more police arriving. They turned their attention to other areas of Braamfischerville but police followed them and foiled any further attacks. The convoy of cars then made its way out of the settlement.
Local business owner and community leader Pat Mamabolo said the meeting would be reconvened before Saturday. Mamabolo added that they needed to be consulted on everything the government was doing, using as an example of the Township Revitalisation Programme. “The government should consult us with regard to issues that directly concern us instead of going over our heads,” Mamabolo said.
Meanwhile signs that violence on foreign shop owners continues were there for all to see. Later, meetings were organised but the police were a step ahead each time. Notably, though, the mob had attacked four stores in Braamfischerville before the police could stop them.
It was not immediately clear how many people were arrested during the violence and none of the other three shops that were petrol bombed in Snake Park were looted except Simon Tuck Shop where the man was burnt. The other three were just left to burn and the extent of the damage could not be immediately established in the dangerous chaos that resulted from the events.
This latest violence comes after attacks on foreign-owned stores began in Snake Park in January and spread through the township and on to other areas. While the fight ensued, a press release from the department of small business development condemned the on-going attacks. “In the last few days, violent incidents took place in Marikana informal settlement, Philippi, in the Western Cape, Thembelihle informal settlement in Lenasia, south of Johannesburg and in some villages outside Modjadjiskloof in Limpopo. As government, business and civil society, we have a collective responsibility to address the root cause of the tension,” said the release.
It continued, “As government, we proceed from the premise that all people living in South Africa, including foreigners, are entitled to the full protection of our law. In terms of our Constitution, asylum seekers and refugees can establish and conduct businesses in South Africa. Foreigners who own businesses are also subject to the same taxes and levies as South Africans.” DM

Another Heartbreak: Somali-Canadian Trans Woman Sumaya Dalmar Found Dead in Toronto This Weekend | Autostraddle

Another Heartbreak: Somali-Canadian Trans Woman Sumaya Dalmar Found Dead in Toronto This Weekend | Autostraddle

In what has already been a year of horrifying violence and tragedy for trans women of color, a young Somali-Canadian trans woman was lost this weekend in Toronto. Sumaya Dalmar, known also as Sumaya Ysl, was found dead on Sunday morning at the age of 26.
Details about her death remain sketchy, though it has been widely speculated across social media that it may have been homicide. Autostraddle spoke extensively with Toronto Police Media Relations Officer Constable Victor Kwong, who indicated that her death had not been ruled a homicide, but that the investigation remained open. Kwong also clarified that, because the matter did not readily appear to be a homicide and there appeared to be no immediate public safety concern, they could not share more details on the investigation due to privacy concerns. The Toronto Police tweeted earlier today that more details would be forthcoming, and Kwong confirmed that the department is working their LGBT liaison to update the community soon.

Friends of Sumaya made a statement through the facebook event for her memorial service, stating:
“We are absolutely devastated by the loss of our dear friend and sister Sumaya. And yet, we are reminded by all the memories being shared by community members that her spirit will stay with us forever.
We understand that there is a lot of speculation surrounding the cause of Sumaya’s death. We want to make clear that the cause of death has not been verified. Rest assured, we are working diligently with the appropriate officials to confirm it.”
image via  facebook
Sumaya was a model and adult-film actress who was well-known in the Toronto LGBT community. Another Canadian adult model, Blair Ryder, who had worked with Sumaya spoke to us, saying Sumaya “was very strong, independent. A girl that people instantly noticed when she walked in the room.” Sumaya was also the subject of a 2014 art exhibit and documentary by fellow Somali-Canadian Abdi Osman called Labeeb, exploring the interplay of gender, trans identity, and traditional Somali culture. According to the exhibition announcement, She emigrated to Canada at the age of three, had trained in speech-therapy, and was very active in the local LGBT community. Osman spoke highly of her when contacted, saying, “she was a lovely soul and I considered her to be my little sister.”
We remain in contact with the Toronto Police, and will add updates as more information on this case becomes available.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Arrested at MSP Airport with 1-way ticket to Somalia - KMSP-TV

Arrested at MSP Airport with 1-way ticket to Somalia - KMSP-TV

He had a one-way ticket to Somalia, but he never made it past the security checkpoint at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
Zaki Mohammed Sugule was arrested at the airport on Presidents' Day, acting suspiciously. According to airport police, the 39-year-old was traveling with a fake Somali passport -- the wrong color, poorly laminated and name misspelled. Sugule told police he was trying to self-deport himself out of the United States in order to "turn his life around."
Fox 9 has learned federal agents became concerned because in his pocket was the name and address of a contact in Syria, raising the fear Sugule may have been attempting to fly to Somalia to fight for al-Shabaab, or perhaps would attempt to reach Syria to fight for ISIS.
Another East African man -- who we are not identifying -- was arrested the same day for traveling with false documents, and it's unknown if the two were traveling together.
Several people who knew Sugule say he was known as the local drunk or inebriant. They can't imagine he would planning to fight for ISIS or al-Shabaab. They just don't think he's competent enough.
Sugule has been arrested more than 40 times in the last decade for assault, disorderly conduct, and terroristic threats. At the Starbucks in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood last year, he threatened to kill people with a drill bit. He has a habit of sucker punching people at random, and once used a piece of broken glass to slash someone across the face.
Airport police arrested Sugule last week on five outstanding warrants, and a few days ago, a judge sentenced him to 1.5 years in prison. Ominously, Sugule told airport police, according to the report, "after he cleared up his warrants he would be coming back again to leave the U.S."

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Prominent Somali scholar dies in the US

Prominent Somali scholar dies in the US

A Somali professor known his rich oral poetry writing and nationalism has died in New Jersy on Tuesday, aged 72, relatives told HOL on Wednesday.
Prof. Said Samatar who co-authored Nation In search Of a State with David D has died after hours in coma after falling off his home’s stairs.
Born in Somali Region of  Ethiopia in 1943, Prof. Samatar spent his early years in nomadic environment having completed his early education with a stint at a middle school in Nazareth, Ethiopia before moving to Mogadishu in 1970 to start working at the National Teaching College.
His death is a big loss for Somalia’s poetry society which besides him lost many other legends.
Coming to the United States on a scholarship, Samatar commenced studies at Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana. He attended early morning and night classes, while working during the day as a welder to support his wife, who at the time was pregnant with their two children. Samatar graduated from Goshen College in 1973 with a degree in history and literature. He followed that with a Master's degree in Northeast African history, and received a graduate certificate in African studies. In 1979, he obtained a doctorate in African history from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.
Soon after, a job offer arrived from Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Kentucky, where Samatar taught from 1979-1981. In July 1981, he accepted a post at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey, where he has since remained. His daughter is award-winning author Sofia Samatar
Prof. Samatar has seen of the most important literature faces for Somalia, a nation often described as Bards.


Profile: Said SamatarProfessor and Editor of the Horn of Africa Journal
Faculty
Department of African American and African Studies, Department of History Research Interests: Modern African history, esp. eastern and southern Africa; African resistance movements to European imperialism; Middle East; history of Islam.

Local Muslims condemn Somalian Extremist threats on Mall of Amer - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Local Muslims condemn Somalian Extremist threats on Mall of Amer - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Local Muslims are condemning this weekend's threats on western shopping centers, including the Mall of America.  Members of a local mosque in Rochester say these actions go against the core beliefs of their religion.

"If you kill one human being, no religion mentioned, a human being, a human life, if you take it away for no reason whatsoever it's like as if you killed the whole humanity," said Somalian Muslim Abdi Roble quoting a verse from the Quran.

The Muslim Community in Rochester can hear the words and see the threats, but they are not listening.

"When you see a few people, or a few bad apples, like you know acting out of their own religion and doing things on their own, that's exactly where the problem is coming from," said Roble.

Here, believers follow the Quran.  They read the words and understand the meanings, but cannot fathom how others can not.

"Every little wicked idea that comes out in the world you will see supporters and people that are like minded which makes you think like what are you seeing what are you reading," said Roble.

Somalian members of the mosque listen to the Imam.  His translated words far from echo what is being said back home.

"He said it stems from people that are not straight up in the head, that don't have the basic qualification of anything," said Roble as he translates for Elsayed Mahmoud

Instead, members of the Mosque believe they are targeting areas in this region because of the vast Somalian community.

"They try to scare us, they bring scare tactics, and he said those aren't even men, those are little boys doing this," said Roble continuing to translate for Elsayed Mahmoud.

Community members say the terrorists should try and understand the second part of the Quran verse Roble told earlier.

"If you save a human life it is as if you saved the whole world."

Somali-Americans show support for Mall of America | Minnesota Public Radio News

Somali-Americans show support for Mall of America | Minnesota Public Radio News

A group of Somali Minnesotans gathered at the Mall of America Tuesday afternoon to show that they will not be intimidated by the terrorist group al-Shabab.
By going to the mall and having lunch there, the group of 10 Somalis and two others aimed to show people the mall is safe, said Abdirahman Mukhtar, a community engagement and young adults coordinator at the Brian Coyle Community Center in Minneapolis.

"People have to understand that no one will stop our daily lives and no one should tell us what we can do and cannot do here in Minnesota," said Mukhtar, who organized the gathering. "Mall of America is our pride in Minnesota. We brag about the Mall of America."
Jibril Afyare, a software engineer for IBM and president of the Somali Citizens League in Minneapolis, took off time from work to be at the mall.
"We are here to shop and we are not afraid of these lunatics," he said of al-Shabab. "They cannot drive a wedge between the Somali community who are peace-loving and civilized and our brothers and sisters of America."
Protesting the terrorist threats. 
On left, Jibril Afyare, Abdirahman Mukhtar, on right Phill Kelly and Mahdi Abdi ate lunch at the Mall of America on Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2014. 

Afyare, Mukhtar and Farhio Khalif, executive director of the nonprofit group Voice of East African Women, all had lunch at the mall in a show of support for its businesses. As local reporters interviewed the Somalis, other mall visitors told them they appreciated their presence at the mall.
"Thank you. You are showing a good message," Judy Stuthman, 74, of Roseville, who came to the mall to shop.
"Al-Shabab is probably having some difficulties recruiting and they saw this as a way," she said of the video released over the weekend that mentioned the mall as a potential terrorism target.
Stuthman said the Somalis at the mall are not "letting the radicals hijack the message of security in the community and security in [their] religion."
The mall is a popular destination for thousands of Somali families who bring their children and friends to the mall during the Eid holidays, Mukhtar said.
He got his first job at the mall in 1998 and worked at Knott's Camp Snoopy as a cashier on weekends before it became Nickelodeon Universe.
Since the al-Shabab threat became the subject of international news, Somalis in Minnesota have made it clear they denounce violent ideology. But some have expressed fears that they will face a backlash from others in the community.
Minnesotans should be cautious, said Khalif, of Voice of East African Women, but they should not "look at us differently because of our religion or because we are from Somalia."
Somali-Americans, she said, enjoy the mall as their neighbors do.
"Please go to Mall of America," Khalif said. "It's a fun place to take your children and eat a lot of great food."

Obama Nominates 1st US Ambassador to Somalia Since 1991 - ABC News

Obama Nominates 1st US Ambassador to Somalia Since 1991 - ABC News

President Barack Obama has nominated a career diplomat to be the first U.S. ambassador to Somalia in nearly 25 years, filling a post that has been vacant since the Horn of Africa country collapsed into chaos in 1991, forcing the closure of the American embassy.
Obama on Tuesday tapped Foreign Service veteran Katherine Simonds Dhanani for the job, which will be based in neighboring Kenya until security conditions permit the embassy in the Somali capital of Mogadishu to reopen, the State Department said. Dhanani, currently director of regional and security affairs in the department's Africa bureau, has previously served in India, Mexico, and Guyana and has significant African experience, having been posted in Zimbabwe, Gabon, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo.
The State Department said the nomination is a sign of the U.S. commitment to Somalia.
"This historic nomination signals the deepening relationship between the United States and Somalia," spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement. "It also allows us to mark the progress of the Somali people toward emerging from decades of conflict. Somalia has considerable work ahead to complete its transition to a peaceful, democratic, and prosperous nation."
Somalia has been ravaged by conflict and instability since the ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre 24 years ago, despite the formation of successive governments that have been plagued by civil strife, piracy and political uncertainty and continues to battle the al-Qaida affiliated al-Shabab militant group, which has staged attacks around east Africa and earlier this week threatened shopping malls in the United States and other Western nations.
Al-Shabab controlled much of Mogadishu during the years 2007 to 2011, but was pushed out of Somalia's capital and other major cities by African Union forces.
Despite major setbacks in 2014, al-Shabab continues to wage a deadly insurgency against Somalia's government and remains a threat in Somalia and the East African region. The group has carried out many attacks in Somalia and in neighboring countries, including Kenya, whose armies are part of the African Union troops bolstering Somalia's weak U.N.- backed government.
The U.S. Embassy closed in 1991 when Somalia's government collapsed in civil war. The situation quickly deteriorated, prompting the deployment of a U.S.-led U.N. peacekeeping mission. American troops withdrew from Somalia in 1994, months after the humiliating "Black Hawk Down" debacle when Somali militiamen shot down two U.S. helicopters. Eighteen U.S. soldiers were killed in the battle, which marked the beginning of the end of that U.S. military mission to bring stability.

Teenage Girl Leaves for ISIS, and Others Follow - NYTimes.com

Teenage Girl Leaves for ISIS, and Others Follow - NYTimes.com

Aqsa Mahmood’s family saw her as an intelligent and popular teenager who helped care for her three younger siblings and her grandparents at her home in Scotland. She listened to Coldplay, read Harry Potter novels and drank Irn Bru, a Scottish soft drink.
She aspired to be a pharmacist or a doctor, and they did not expect her to leave her home in Glasgow in November 2013 to go to Syria, where the authorities now say she is one of the most active recruiters of young British women to join the Islamic State.
The authorities are investigating possible links between Ms. Mahmood, who goes by the name Umm Layth (meaning Mother of the Lion), and the disappearance last week of three teenagers from London. They, too, are believed to have traveled to Syria to join the terrorist group also known as ISIS or ISIL.
The apparent trend of studious, seemingly driven young women leaving home to join violent jihadists has become disturbingly familiar.
A Metropolitan Police official said on Monday that one of the girls, Shamima Begum, had sent a Twitter message to a woman on Feb. 15, a couple of days before they left Britain, but declined to disclose her name.
Experts who track jihadist activity online, including Audrey Alexander at the International Center for the Study of Radicalization, in London, have identified that woman as Ms. Mahmood, 20.
She is now thought to live in Raqqa, Syria, the de facto capital of the Islamic State, where she married a jihadist and acts as a virtual den mother offering sometimes stern advice to peers who would follow in her footsteps.
As the families of the three missing girls made tearful appeals for their daughters to return home, Ms. Mahmood’s family issued a statement last weekend addressed to their own daughter, whom they called a “disgrace.” They said they were “full of horror and anger” that she “may have had a role to play” in recruiting the girls for the Islamic State.
“Your actions are a perverted and evil distortion of Islam,” the family said in their statement, released through their lawyer, Aamer Anwar. “You are killing your family every day with your actions. They are begging you to stop if you ever loved them.”
The young women — Kadiza Sultana, 16; Ms. Begum, 15; and Amira Abase, 15 — were described by a classmate as studious, argumentative and driven, not unlike Ms. Mahmood. Ms. Sultana’s Twitter feed showed that she followed many accounts of jihadist fighters. Ms. Begum, who sent a Twitter message to Ms. Mahmood, asked her own followers before she left to “keep me in your duas,” or prayers. (Their accounts were recently disabled.)
The teenagers told their families on Feb. 17 that they would be out for the day, but security camera video at Gatwick Airport, near London, showed that the girls had boarded a Turkish Airways flight to Istanbul, and the Metropolitan Police in London said Tuesday that they had arrived in Syria.
Another classmate from the girls’ school, Bethnal Green Academy in east London, took a Turkish Airlines flight in December and is thought to be in Syria. Police officers at the time questioned the three teenagers over their classmate’s disappearance, a Metropolitan Police officer said.
Like them, “Aqsa was very intelligent, very liked, very bubbly, kind, caring,” said Mr. Anwar, the lawyer. But the Islamic State has turned Ms. Mahmood into “a poster girl in Britain for recruitment,” he said, “and she herself is a high-value recruit.”
Members of Ms. Mahmood’s family said they had “absolutely no inkling” of her radicalization, according to Mr. Anwar. The oldest of two sisters and a brother, she lived with her parents and grandparents in a middle-class area of Glasgow. None of the women in her family wore a head scarf, Mr. Anwar said, but one day Ms. Mahmood began wearing a hijab and became “increasingly vocal and angry” about events in Syria.
“But you can go to any Muslim household,” he added, “and you would hear similar arguments being made.”
“It is those young people who are liked, who are smart, who think, who are caring, who are ripe for radicalization,” he said, not the outcasts.
When they do not receive adequate answers from their families, schools or the local mosque, they often turn to the Internet, Mr. Anwar said. Last year, a pair of 17-year-old twins from Manchester who traveled to Syria attracted widespread attention because they had been straight-A students who wanted careers in medicine.
The precise role Ms. Mahmood might have played in the flight of the three London teenagers is unclear, since Ms. Begum, not Ms. Mahmood, initiated their exchange on Twitter. Their conversation quickly moved to an encrypted social media channel, which is standard practice among would-be jihadists seeking practical information on how to reach Syria.
There are about 100 British women among the 550 Western women who are thought to have joined Islamist groups in Syria and Iraq, according to the Soufan Group, a security consultancy based in New York. Female recruits are generally younger than their male counterparts, said Ross Frenett of the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a London research organization that studies extremism. As the radicals see it, “a 15-year-old makes a good wife,” he said. “A 14-year-old male is less useful as a combatant.”
Women who join the Islamic State try to entice other women to marry militants and help them build a new, retrograde Islamic society. Ms. Mahmood had emerged as one of the most vocal supporters of the Islamic State and one of its most established online recruiters, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadists’ online activity.
She has tried to incite terrorist attacks on Western countries through her Tumblr blog and multiple Twitter accounts, calling on British Muslims to follow the example of “brothers from Woolwich, Texas and Boston.” But she has also occasionally alluded to boredom doing housewifely duties.
She tweeted that, compared with Scotland, the winters in Syria “are too much,” and advised, “Sisters please don’t forget to pack thermal clothing or you’ll regret it later on.”
She also admonished them: “Sisters, please for the sake of Allah contact the sisters whom are online rather than approaching the brothers. Also know the fact many brothers whom you contact and chat to are married. Have some self-respect and don’t be a homewrecker :)”
The families of the three missing London teenagers have criticized the security services in Britain for failing to intervene to stop their daughters from going to Syria, even though they were monitoring Ms. Mahmood’s online activity.
After she left home more than a year ago, Ms. Mahmood called her parents from the Turkish border, telling them she would next see them on “Judgment Day” and take them to heaven, holding their hands. But the British security services advised her parents to keep their daughter’s disappearance “under the radar,” Mr. Anwar said.
“Had the security services really been concerned about Aqsa Mahmood’s welfare, they would have moved heaven and earth to get her back in November 2013,” he said.

Blast rocks Somali capital; 2 feared dead | Africa | Worldbulletin News

Blast rocks Somali capital; 2 feared dead | Africa | Worldbulletin News

Two were feared dead in a car bombing the northern Somalia capital Mogadishu on Tuesday.

"The information I have is that the explosion that took place at Kilometer 4 killed two people. We are investigating it," Ali Abdi Abdulleh, deputy commissioner of Hodan district, told The Anadolu Agency.

According to eyewitnesses the explosion occurred when a private car exploded as it was passing on a street linking the presidential palace to Mogadishu airport.

There has been no claim of responsibility for the blast.

Somalia has remained in the grip of on-again, off-again violence since the outbreak of civil war in 1991.

Last year, fractious Somalia appeared to inch closer to stability after government troops and African Union forces – deployed in the country since 2007 – drove Al-Shabaab from most of its strongholds.

The militant group, however, has continued to stage attacks against government forces and African peacekeepers.

Khalifa Foundation to build water project in Somalia | GulfNews.com

Khalifa Foundation to build water project in Somalia | GulfNews.com

The Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation has launched a project to extract water and build a pipeline to provide water to the population of Hargeisa, Somalia.
The project comes as an implementation of the directives of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and the follow-up of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
An official source at the foundation said that the project began with the digging of 13 wells and construction of giant reservoirs.
The pipeline, expected to be 52km long, is estimated to have a capacity of more than one million gallons of water per day. It is expected to serve 250,000 people in the city of Hargeisa.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Rochester Somali leaders discuss al-Shabaab threats against Minn - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Rochester Somali leaders discuss al-Shabaab threats against Minn - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

The Somali population in Minnesota is reacting to the threats being made by their country's extremist groups.
Here in Rochester, one community leader is calling al-Shabaab's threat a "bluff."
While al-Shabaab's threat may have shoppers and security experts on high alert, immigrants from the troubled country say those demands hold no water in the Upper Midwest.
"I think this is more of a mixture of a bluff and of a desperate threat,” said Ahmed Osman, the Employment Program Manager with the Intercultural Mutual Assistance Association, or IMAA, in Rochester.
We sat down with six Somali leaders in Rochester, who explained al-Shabaab is losing power every day in Somalia, and their call for terror acts in Minnesota are a last-ditch effort to gain support.
"We know they are weakening every day now, so they are trying to influence other pupils. But they have no place in Minnesota,” said Jaylani Abdalla, also with IMAA.
Ahmed Omer grew up in the U.S., but his father was just in Somalia last week when a bomb went off killing dozens.
"You're always going to have this worry about the safety of your relatives back home,” Omer said.
In Minnesota, where al-Shabaab has recruited young people to fight with them, how does a Somali American parent talk to their child about the risks?
"We tell our kids that the person that's telling you that you'll go to heaven, why doesn't he go? Or why doesn't she go?" said Mohamed Sheik Nur.
"As a community, if we get together and have a united front to where we give the best possible opportunity to all our youngsters, we shouldn't even talk about al-Shabaab. There's no place for al-Shabaab,” added Osman.
Omar Nur says sports, like organized soccer and basketball, keep kids focused on something positive.
"We stand Somali together, all of us, to avoid all of the young people to make them no longer brainwashed,” Nur said.
They all say a well-educated community is key to keeping Minnesota a safe place for young Somali Americans to grow up.
"The old saying, it takes a village to raise a child. That's what we need to go back. It's not just a Somali issue," Osman said.

Minnesota Somalis condemn terrorist video | Minnesota Public Radio News

Minnesota Somalis condemn terrorist video | Minnesota Public Radio News

A video purportedly made by Somali terror group al-Shabab urging attacks on U.S. shopping malls, including the Mall of America, was quickly denounced Monday by Somali-American leaders in the Twin Cities.
Community leaders condemned the video "in the strongest possible terms," said Mohamud Noor, executive director of the Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota.
Noor said the militant group wants to create fear and remain relevant since it has lost ground to Somali and African Union forces.
"Al-Shabab group has been reduced to a small core of individuals," he said. "They have lost the bigger fight and for them to remain legitimate they have to create more chaos and confusion."
The 75-minute video, released online, largely focuses on the group's dispute with the country of Kenya. Although its mention of malls alarmed some shoppers, only a minute or so of the video advocates for terror attacks in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada.
"It almost looks like what they were trying to do is salvage this very long and un-watchable video by putting something in that attracts a lot of media attention," said Ken Menkhaus, a political science professor at Davidson College in North Carolina. "They succeeded."
There has been intense scrutiny of the threat in the United States, particularly after Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson warned Mall of America shoppers Sunday to be "particularly careful."
Menkhaus, who studies the Horn of Africa, said the video could be a ploy by al-Shabab to regain international attention as other terror networks, like the group calling itself the Islamic State, have gained traction.
Shoppers headed in to the Mall of America Sunday. 
Shoppers entered the Mall of America Sunday. 
"As far as the FBI has said to us, the group has no operational capacity to launch a planned terrorist attack in the U.S. or Canada," Menkhaus said. "That's one of the reasons why it's calling for individual Muslims to take action."
While so-called lone-wolf attacks can be difficult to predict, Menkhaus said al-Shabab has not been effective in calling for them in the past.
In May, it released a video in English that called for supporters to carry out a "lone-wolf mission" and to attack like "the brothers in Westgate Mall." The video included a mock-up of an airplane boarding pass showing Minnesota as the point of origin and the slogan, "Next flight to Mogadishu: The only one missing is you."
Intelligence services seem to have vastly improved their information-sharing abilities in recent years, said Edward Turzanski, a Templeton Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and a scholar in residence at LaSalle University.
But the success that some radical groups have had in signing up recruits from communities in Europe and the United States points to one possible danger.
"More and more you have people who are being radicalized online and are finding a path towards connectivity to a terror organization," Turzanski said. "This is a phenomenon that keeps on changing; it's a bit of a shape-shifter."
The Mall of America fits the profile for groups like al-Qaida, which Turzanski said has traditionally focused on targets with "great symbolic, systematic and practical value."
Turzanski and Menkhaus both said authorities need to be aware of the possibility of attacks without overreacting.
"One of the ways that al-Shabab and other groups can win a battle without having to pull the trigger is to incite us to act in ways that make our lives miserable and alienate our fellow Muslim citizens," Menkhaus said.
Law enforcement and Mall of America officials said there is no evidence of a credible threat against the mall. But there are additional security measures in place there. A spokesperson for the Mall of America said attendance levels didn't appear to be affected by news of the video over the weekend.
Since late Saturday, leaders of Minnesota's Somali community have met several times to find a way to respond to the threats, said Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
"We must not allow terror groups like al-Shabab to achieve its goal of spreading fear or panic in our community," Hussein said. "We must also prevent justifiable security concerns from being used as a pretext to promote hatred, prejudice and suspicion of the whole community."
Noor, of the Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota, said the terror organization has lost its ability to lure young Somali-Americans to its ranks.
"We don't have any evidence or knowledge of people who have been recruited by al-Shabab for many years now, and I think that is a good news and people are becoming more resilient fighting extremism at all level," he said. "I don't believe this video will attract a group of followers who support al-Shabab."

Death toll from Somali hotel attack rises to 28: security minister - Xinhua | English.news.cn

Death toll from Somali hotel attack rises to 28: security minister - Xinhua | English.news.cn

At least 28 people were killed and 54 others wounded in a suicide attack at a hotel in the Somali capital Mogadishu on Friday, the Somali government said Sunday.
Security Minister Abdirisaq Omar Mohamed said at least eight other people succumbed to injuries while undergoing treatment.
"We can now confirm that 28 people have died following the explosion in Central Hotel on Friday, 54 other people have been injured and receiving treatment in various hospitals in the city," Mohamed told journalists in Mogadishu.
The country's largest hospital, which was recently opened by the Turkish President Receep Erdogan, has been sealed off from the public as senior government officials are receiving treatment there.
The minister's remarks came after police intelligence confirmed the suicide bomber involved in the explosion. Lul Ahmed, who worked as a receptionist in the luxurious Central Hotel, blew up herself after ramming an explosives-laden vehicle into the gate of the hotel.
"We have established that the female suicide bomber was a single mother of six children and had arrived in the country few months ago and had been working in the hotel all along," said Mohamed.
Mohamed said police had arrested all the security guards and the managers of the hotel for questioning. Police authorities also said the woman held a Dutch and Somali nationality.
The minister said the suspect worked as a receptionist at the hotel and on Thursday night she stayed at the hotel though she would normally leave in the afternoon.
The attack by Somali militant group Al-Shabaab hit the hotel and a mosque inside while most of the people were in for the Friday prayers.

Somalia: Majority of capital residents feel safer than in 2013 - Yahoo News

Somalia: Majority of capital residents feel safer than in 2013 - Yahoo News

In a recent study by the Heritage Institute for Policy Studies, the majority of the 1,600 residents of the capital, Mogadishu, said they witness less conflict between clans and fewer attacks by rebel groups.

After decades of war and failed attempts by international actors to establish peace and create a working administration, the political situation in Somalia seems to be improving.
 
In a recent study by the Heritage Institute for Policy Studies, the majority of the 1,600 residents of the capital, Mogadishu, who were surveyed said they feel safer now than they did in 2013, and that they witness less conflict between clans and fewer attacks by rebel groups.
Abdirahman Yusuf, who grew up in Somaliland and cofounded a post-resettlement agency for Somali refugees in Boston in the 1990s, returned in September to Mogadishu for the first time in more than three decades. He acknowledges this headway and attributes it to the waning presence of one faction in particular.
“You could say people are a little bit more optimistic than they were before,” says Mr. Yusuf. “And the main reason for that is that the terrorist organization Al Shabab has been weakened.”
Other signs of normalcy are returning to the capital. In October, United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon, who had just visited Mogadishu, said conditions there were improving. That same month, the government relaunched a postal service that had been absent since 1991. A hotel became host to the country’s first ATM.
Although the government isn’t fully functional at this point, the changes in the capital are significant, says Michael Woldemariam, an assistant professor of international relations and political science at Boston University.
“Things are better than they were,” says Professor Woldemariam. “Mogadishu is making a comeback. People are buying land ... [and] the diaspora is coming back.”
One jolting setback for the diaspora came in early February. Because of Somalia’s lack of a functioning central bank – and because of concerns about the financing of terrorism – a California bank announced plans to drop the accounts of firms that transfer funds on behalf of Somali immigrants in the United States. That imperiled millions of dollars in such remittances, and was another sign that, broadly, the country has far to go on several fronts.
“When talking about security in Mogadishu and south-central Somalia more generally,” says Woldemariam, “we’re coming from a very low baseline.”
After the collapse of the government of Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, the country became the standard for the political science term that gained popularity in the following years: failed state. Communities turned to ad hoc governance and traditional forms of conflict resolution as the state became more decentralized, with various opposition groups fighting for power. Soon south-central Somalia was facing sporadic attacks by Al Shabab, the jihadist militant group.
Then, again, came drought. A regional food crisis in 2011 killed some 260,000 people. By then Al Shabab had infiltrated much of the area. It hindered aid efforts.
But in August 2012 Al Shabab ceded  control of the capital to Somali authorities from the Transitional Federal Government and AMISOM, the African Union’s peacekeeping mission for the country.
Still, threats to stability remain. In December 2014, Transparency International released its annual Corruption Perceptions Index; Somalia shared last place – and an abysmal score – with North Korea.
A skirmish between President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed snarled Somali government operations. And disputes over landownership have flared as refugees return to land they once occupied and find others who have taken their place.
Such disputes can be complicated by the fact that Al Shabab has been known to recruit from competing clans, says Woldemariam.
“Sometimes what we think of as ‘Shabab versus government’ violence,” he says, “is really just clan violence.”
Despite the range of issues that strain the peace process, Yusuf maintains that ethnic Somalis who have left will play an important role in supporting their homeland’s rise. Yusuf himself attained American citizenship, but he hasn’t forgotten his first home.
“[Somalis in America] will probably go back ... [and] help people” even though they have made their homes in the US, says Yusuf. “That’s exactly what I’m looking for with myself.”

Monday, February 23, 2015

Labour choose British-Somali Londoner to stand against George Galloway | Politics | The Guardian

Labour choose British-Somali Londoner to stand against George Galloway | Politics | The Guardian

22 February 2015
Labour has chosen a Londoner to run against George Galloway as the party attempts to regain the outspoken Scot’s Bradford West seat in this year’s general election.
British-Somali Amina Ali was chosen from an all-woman shortlist of three in a move which will annoy some party members who wanted to see a local candidate.
But Labour said Ali, who is a councillor in Tower Hamlets, was the “overwhelming choice” of members at a hustings held at the Bradford Hotel.
If elected she will be the first ever MP of Somali heritage, a spokesman said.
He said Ali worked as a researcher and journalist for the BBC before embarking on her current career as a legal adviser.
Galloway won Bradford West in a byelection for his Respect party in 2012 when a huge swing from Labour gave him a majority of more than 10,000.
Ali said: “I’m delighted to have been given the backing of Bradford West members and will give this campaign everything I have.
“People in Bradford West want change – they have been badly let down by a Tory-led government hitting Bradford disproportionately hard and an absentee MP in George Galloway.
“He promised the earth in 2012 and, as the byelection result showed, people put their faith in him, but none of what he promised has materialised.
“He has failed to work hard for local people and even admitted he prefers election campaigns to actually doing the job of representing the people of Bradford West.
“If Bradford West people elect me they will get an MP who will work tirelessly for them, and only for them.
“I will be a strong voice in Westminster, and I will be visible and active back here in Bradford too.”
Galloway tweeted on Saturday: “In the light of today’s bizarre decision, I call on Bradford Labour members to join us either publicly or privately. We are the real Labour.”

Amina says Kenya okay with remittances to Somali refugees | Capital News

Amina says Kenya okay with remittances to Somali refugees | Capital News

Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed on Sunday said Kenya has no problem with Somali refugees receiving remittances from their relatives in the West.
Mohammed said that as long as due diligence was carried out to ensure the money does not end up in the hands of terrorists, the government was aware that these remittances often provide a life-line to those displaced by the war in Somalia.
“Almost all the refugees that are in our country are heavily dependent on remittances from outside Africa for their survival, for their day to day living. So we must carry out due diligence and make sure that the resources are actually being transmitted to the right people,” she said.
She was echoing Germany’s Foreign Affairs Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier who was in the country to bolster economic ties between the two nations.
He said that as long as due diligence was conducted, his government would not seek to block remittances to Somalia.
The tight restrictions recently adopted on remittances from the US to Somalia has caused some concern among humanitarians who say it has negatively impacted those Somalis not involved in terror activities and who rely on them for their everyday survival.
Restrictions, they say, that could worsen the effects of food insecurity in the war ravaged nation.
In January the United Nations warned that more than 38,000 Somali children are at “high risk” of dying of starvation.
There is also concern that these restrictions could further fuel the black market and create even greater avenues for crime.
In July last year, three Somali women were arrested for funding Al Shabaab by sending remittances from the US and Netherlands.
Claiming to be sending money to their brothers or orphans, the women sent money transfers to both Kenya and Somalia and often in small amounts of USD50 or 100 in a bid to avoid raising any red flags.
Muna Osman Jama was arrested in her home in Reston, Virginia; Hinda Osman Dhirane in Kent, Washington; and Farhia Hassan in the Netherlands.
Two other women, according to court records, are believed to be hiding in Kenya and Somalia.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Al-Shabaab threatens malls in Canada, UK, U.S. in new video - CNN.com

Al-Shabaab threatens malls in Canada, UK, U.S. in new video - CNN.com

Terror group Al-Shabaab has released a video calling for attacks on shopping malls in Canada, the UK and the United States.

In the propaganda video released Saturday, the al Qaeda-linked terror group talks about its September 2013 attack on a mall in Kenya. The brazen siege, which went on for days, left more than 60 people dead at an upscale mall in Nairobi.

In its new video, the terror group calls for similar attacks on malls in the three countries. Al-Shabaab identified specific malls, but CNN will not list them unless they respond publicly.

Mall of America said it's aware of the threatening video that named it as a potential target.

"We take any potential threat seriously and respond appropriately," the Minnesota mall said in a statement Saturday night. "We have implemented extra security precautions, some may be noticeable to guests and others won't be."

The West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada, which was also listed, said it has implemented extra security and is working with federal and local law enforcement agencies.

The Somalia-based militants have heavily recruited in Minneapolis, where young men have been slipping away to join the terror group. The city is home to the largest Somali population in the United States.

Although Al-Shabaab has also targeted youth in Canada, Finland and the UK for recruitment, its past attacks have been limited to East Africa.

In addition to Kenya and Somalia, it has also struck in Uganda, where it killed more than 70 people gathered to watch a World Cup soccer match in Kampala five years ago. Kenya and Uganda have sent their forces to neighboring Somalia to battle the extremists.

As the attacks get more daring, the international community has rallied to fight the militants.

Last year, the United States launched an airstrike in Somalia that killed the Al-Shabaab leader. The terror group later replaced him and vowed to avenge his death.

CNN's Janet DiGiacomo and Joe Sutton contributed to this report.

New ISIS video shows Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers in cages in Iraq - CNN.com

New ISIS video shows Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers in cages in Iraq - CNN.com

 ISIS has released a new propaganda video showing what appears to be Kurdish Peshmerga fighters paraded down Iraqi streets in cages.
The video features a man saying the Peshmerga soldiers were captured by ISIS.
CNN cannot independently verify the authenticity of the video. But it shows at least 21 men in orange outfits hauled in the cages atop the beds of pickup trucks.
A man with a microphone bearing the ISIS logo interviews some of the captives, who say they are Peshmerga soldiers. Most of those interviewed say they are from Kirkuk. The prisoners, under duress, call on their fellow Peshmerga soldiers to give up their fight against ISIS.
The video also features superimposed bios for each prisoner. One captive is described as an officer for the Iraqi army.
The heavily edited footage also includes flashing clips of the recent beheadings of Christian Egyptians in Libya.
It's not clear what happened to those in the video. The last scene shows them alive.
But a man in the video gives an ominous warning.
"We say to the Peshmerga: Leave your jobs, or your fate will be like these, either the cage, or under the ground," he says in Kurdish.
The Peshmerga are armed forces protecting Kurdistan, a semiautonomous region in northern Iraq. The fighters opposed Saddam Hussein's regime and supported the United States in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
In recent months, the Peshmerga have been battling ISIS as the terror group tries to establish a radical Islamic state across parts of Iraq and Syria.

Turkish military enters Syria to evacuate soldiers, relocate tomb

Turkish military enters Syria to evacuate soldiers, relocate tomb

Turkish forces swept into Syria overnight to rescue about 40 soldiers who had been surrounded for months by Islamic State militants while guarding the tomb of a revered Turkish figure.
The operation, which involved tanks, drones, reconnaissance planes as well as several hundred ground troops, was the first such incursion by Turkish troops into Syria since the start of the civil war there nearly four years ago.
The military said no clashes took place during the operation although one soldier had been killed in an accident.
The 38 soldiers who had been guarding the tomb of Suleyman Shah, grandfather of the founder of the Ottoman Empire, were brought safely home. The tomb, which is on a site within Syria that Ankara considers sovereign territory, was relocated.
Normally, the detachment is rotated every six months but the last one was trapped there for eight months by Islamic State fighters.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told a news conference that Turkey had not sought permission or assistance for the mission but had informed allies in the coalition against Islamic State once it began.
"This was an extremely successful operation with no loss to our rights under international law," he said, flanked by the chief of the military and the defense minister.
A Turkish security source said the operation was conducted via the Syrian Kurdish border town of Kobani with the support of local Kurdish authorities. Kurdish forces, backed by U.S.-led air strikes, drove Islamic State from Kobani last month.
The Turkish foreign ministry said the tomb had been temporarily moved to a new site within Syria north of the village of Esmesi close to the Turkish border.
Davutoglu said about 100 military vehicles, including 39 tanks, were involved along with 572 military personnel including special forces commandos. Turkish fighter jets were on alert during the mission but did not need to be deployed, he said.
There was no immediate reaction from the Syrian authorities.
OPERATION "SHAH EUPHRATES"
Turkey has been reluctant to take an active role in the U.S.-led military campaign against Islamic State, partly because it wants to see the military action target Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces as much as the insurgents.
But the Turkish government said late last year that Islamic State militants were advancing on the mausoleum, perched on the banks of the Euphrates river and made Turkish territory under a treaty signed with France in 1921, when France ruled Syria.
Davutoglu had repeatedly said that Turkey would retaliate against any attack on the tomb, which was located 37 km (23 miles) from the Syrian border before being moved overnight.
"Countries which do not look after their historic symbols cannot build their future," he said on Sunday.
Two operations were carried out simultaneously as part of what was dubbed operation "Shah Euphrates", Davutoglu said, one to Suleyman Shah and the other to secure the area around Esmesi. He said the remaining buildings at the original site were destroyed to prevent their use after the remains were removed.
Photographs published by the state news agency Anadolu showed Turkish soldiers pitching a flag pole where the tomb is being relocated. Davutoglu said it would be returned to its previous location once conditions allowed.
Islamic State and other Islamist groups, whose strict Salafi interpretation of Islam deems the veneration of tombs to be idolatrous, have destroyed several tombs and mosques in Syria.
Suleyman Shah was the grandfather of Osman I who founded the Ottoman Empire in 1299. Traveling through modern-day Syria, he fell off his horse and drowned in the Euphrates near the site of the mausoleum, according to historians.
(Additional reporting by Daren Butler, Ayla Jean Yackley and Humeyra Pamuk in Istanbul, Seyhmus Cakan in Diyarbakir; Writing by Nick Tattersall; Editing by Nick Macfie)
 

Fire in 336m Dubai residential skyscraper

A fire has ripped through the 79-storey Torch Tower in Dubai, but no casualties have been reported.
The tower stands at 336m, making it one of the world's tallest residential buildings.
Hundreds of people had to be evacuated.
Ben Bland reports.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Mogadishu hotel suicide bombers were Dutch: Somali intelligence - Yahoo News

Mogadishu hotel suicide bombers were Dutch: Somali intelligence - Yahoo News

Twin suicide bombings at a Mogadishu hotel popular with ministers and officials were carried out by Dutch nationals, Somali intelligence sources said Saturday, the day after 25 people were killed.
Somali intelligence believe both suicide bombers -- a man and a woman -- were Dutch-Somali citizens who infiltrated the Central Hotel close to the presidential palace ahead of the attack.
Sources within the Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) said the man, identified as Ismail Muse, exploded a bomb in a car parked at the hotel while the woman, Lula Ahmed Dahir, detonated her explosive vest inside the hotel's prayer room.
The woman "worked part time in the hotel for up to four months," according to an intelligence report seen by AFP.
"Her relationship to the male attacker... is not yet known but thought to be very close, if not husband," said the report.
The attack left 25 people dead including two MPs, the deputy mayor of Mogadishu, the Prime Minister's private secretary and the deputy PM's chief of staff.
Deputy PM Mohamed Arte, the minister of transport and minister of port and marine resources were among dozens of injured.
Heavy gunfire followed the two explosions as nervous security forces searched the hotel compound.
"The building was badly hit, the explosion was very big," said police officer Abulrahman Ali.
Thick clouds of black smoke were seen pouring from the hotel as the injured were rushed to hospital.
Shebab militants quickly claimed responsibility for the attack.
"Our fighters attacked the Central Hotel," Shebab spokesman Abdulaziz Abu Musab told AFP, saying that the aim had been "to kill the apostate officials."
Shebab rebels have staged a string of assaults in their fight to overthrow the country's internationally-backed government. They have targeted hotels, the international airport, the presidential palace known as Villa Somalia, a UN compound and restaurants.
The last most deadly attack targeting government was in December 2009 when Shebab gunmen went room-to-room in the Shamo Hotel killing 25 people, including three ministers.