WARARKA BARAAWEPOST Arbaco 23 december 2009
Wretched, jobless, invisible: are
Tears filled Abdul Kadir Ali’s eyes as he sat in a rundown community centre in
Qamar Aden Ali fled
“She said, ‘I need to help my country’,” recalled Mr Ali, a coach company manager. “I told her many times that it’s dangerous, you have no bodyguards, every day they are killing ministers and MPs. She said, ‘The day of my death is already written’.”
On December 3 she attended a graduation ceremony for 40 young doctors at a hotel in a supposedly safe part of
“When al-Jazeera showed pictures of the scene I could see them lying there on the floor,” Mr Ali said.
His shock was compounded when the bomber was identified as a young Dane of Somali descent. It could so easily have been a British Somali, he said.
In Northolt, two miles away, another Somali immigrant family is struggling to recover after their 21-year-old son quit
It is easy to think of the war in
This is a conflict that has driven tens of thousands of Somali refugees to
Government officials say that dozens have already returned to
Lord Malloch-Brown, the former Foreign Office Minister, warned before leaving office in July that “the main terrorist threat comes from
The Government has no reliable statistics on how many Somalis now live in
The usual estimate is about 250,000, mostly in
It is almost certainly the biggest Somali community in the worldwide diaspora and suffers from shockingly high levels of unemployment, low levels of education and wretched living conditions.
A 2008 report by the Institute for Public Policy Research suggested that 46 per cent had arrived in Britain since 2000, 48 per cent had no qualifications and barely a quarter of the working age population was employed — mostly in menial jobs.
In 1997 Haringey Council found that 50.6 per cent of its Somali adults were illiterate in any language. Sue Lukes, the co-author of an imminent report on housing, says that Somalis are “possibly the worst-housed ethnic community in
The community is fractured, has largely failed to integrate and has lost its traditional social structures.
The Metropolitan Police employs not a single Somali policeman, although it is now training four. “It has been called the invisible community,” Mohamed Aden Hassan, co-founder of the Somali London Youth Forum, said.
Not surprisingly, some marginalised young Somalis join gangs: the Tottenham Somalis, the Woolwich Boys, Thug Fam. Anecdotal evidence suggests that Somalis are too often the perpetrators, or victims, of violent crime.
Two Somali brothers, Mustaf and Yusuf Jama, murdered PC Sharon Beshenivsky during a robbery in
Rageh Omaar, the Somali-born television journalist, has talked of the “crisis of our young men” and a “sense of denial” within the community.
Other young Somalis, angered by the
Others have gone home to fight for al-Shabaab, which, until Ethiopian troops withdrew from
British officials are uncertain whether the converts are recruited on the street, in mosques, or through the internet, but al-Shabaab certainly exploits the latter. In one online video two young suicide bombers talk of the “sweetness of jihad”.
“How dare you sit at home and see Muslims getting killed . . . Those who are in
Officials do not know exactly how many have gone because they cannot distinguish between Somalis travelling home for legitimate and illegitimate reasons. “It’s not hundreds, but it’s more than single figures,” said one senior
A counter-terrorist source said: “They are not just fighting and learning new skills, but forging contacts from around the world.”
Belatedly, they and the authorities are taking steps to protect their vulnerable youth and Mr Ali is now joining them.
He is setting up a foundation in his sister’s memory to combat the radicalisation of young British Somalis. He intends to campaign in schools, mosques and workshops against extremists who brainwash susceptible young Muslims like his sister’s Danish killer.
The stakes are high, he says. When the recruits have finished fighting in
estimated number of Somalis living in
Somali nationals granted British citizenship in 2005
Somalis became asylum seekers in the first half of 2009
of these were in the EU
Sources: UNHCR, 2001 census, BBC, Home Officee
Shabakadda warbaahinta ee Baraawepost Muqdisho Somalia firstname.lastname@example.org