WARARKA BARAAWEPOST Wednesday 20 january 2010 

 

 

Is Al-Shabaab support all that it`s said to be?

 

Nairobi (Kenya) While the Al-Shabaab militia enjoy little support among the Somalis, they have vowed not to negotiate with Transitional Federal Government (TFG) or lay down arms until the entire country is under Islamic law.

Interviews with some of the captured former members or defectors reveal that Al-Shabaab - which means youth - is a movement driven by the desire by the struggling to take charge in a society where the elderly have messed up for 20 years. But then, are they going about it the right way?

Al Shabaab is comprised of mainly youth between 15 and 25 years. The leaders capitalise on religious demagogy, poverty and ignorance to indoctrinate the youth. They target the poor and the minority clans who are brainwashed that they are fighting the big clans for their own liberation and economic uplifting.

The insurgents are driven by a belief among the Somali youth that since the days of Siad Barre, every government and foreign force like the US and the UN in the 1990s must be fought.

They have become brazen since they drove out Ethiopian troops out of Mogadishu. Ethiopian forces came to defend the frail Transitional Federal Government in late 2006.

Take 21-year old, Ismail Mohammed Issak, former Al-Shabaab militia who was captured by Amisom after a street battle. He is currently recovering at the Amisom Field Hospital after his leg was amputated.

According to the Al-Shabaab doctrine, he ought to have died in battle rather than accept medical treatment from the "enemy".

When asked why he and his group were fighting TFG, Issak maintained that it is not something that they have been instructed to do but something in their hearts and something they have to do.

Issak's show of defiance comes across in the delivery of the seemingly "unquestionable" interpretation of the Koran.

"I believe in the Holy Jihad and my leg was amputated on the will of God. Everything that will happen to me has already been put in the book by Allah and I have no control over it," he said.

That is the kind of determination that even the Amisom forces troops find hard to deal with when they push for negotiations between Al-Shabaab and the TFG.

Al-Shabaab is an offshoot of the former military wing of the deposed Islamic Courts Union that ruled Somalia before the Ethiopian-led invasion in 2007. Between 2002 and 2003, a group of Somali youth joined hands to create law and order under the Islamic Sharia law.

It is believed that some of the Al-Shabaab patrons were trained in Afghanistan and have fashioned the militias on the tenets of the Taliban. The al-Shabaab masterminds were led by, among others, Adan Hashi Ayro -- the group's military leader who was killed in a US missile attack in May.

The Al-Shabaab first emerged when they began fighting criminal gangs who had been in control of Mogadishu's roads. According to the Amisom spokesperson, Major Ba-Houku Barigye, the major problem is that there is little economic activity to absorb the majority of the youth, which makes them vulnerable to and victims of their spiritual leaders.

But then, the defectors who were interviewed give the indication that the militia group is not so closely-knit as they would like the world to believe.

The defectors The EastAfrican interviewed while taking refuge at the Presidential Palace, were between 19 and 32.

The so-called commander of the defectors turned out to be deeply religious, something the Al-Shabaab ideologues capitalise on. He defected because he did not agree with the version of Islam they were being taught and left because in his words, he didn't want to lose his faith.

Then there is the 22-year old Sharif Sami, who came from Italy in 2006 to look for his mother, but was captured by Al-Shabaab on arrival and forced to fight in Kaaraan District for three years. He finally escaped with the help of a relative and found refuge in the Presidential Palace.

The Al-Shabaab first emerged when they began combatting criminal gangs who had been in control of Mogadishu's roads. According to the Amisom spokesperson, Major Ba-Houku Barigye, the major problem is that there is little economic activity to absorb the majority of the youth, which makes them vulnerable to and victims of their spiritual leaders.

Source: The East African (Kenya

Shabakadda warbaahinta ee Baraawepost  Muqdisho Somalia webmaster@baraawepost.com