Wednesday, June 5, 2013
By Adnan Hussein
Somali policemen monitor road traffic for suspected terrorist activity at a checkpoint in Mogadishu. [Tobin Jones/AU-UN IST/AFP]
Al-Shabaab militants have carried out a string of brutal attacks and crimes against civilians in recent weeks -- kidnapping, beheading and robbing Somalis in complete disregard of the sharia law the group purports to uphold.
On May 30th, al-Shabaab ordered the release of six of its fighters accused of robbing $6,000 from a pharmacy in Baardheere and sentenced to have their right hands cut off.
"I gathered with crowds from the town to witness the punishment delivered to the six al-Shabaab fighters, as we expected their right hands to be amputated," said Yusra Nur Abdirahman, a 28-year-old resident of Baardheere. "All of a sudden, a representative from the group [responsible for sentencing] Sheikh Aadan Nuh announced through loudspeakers that the six mujahedeen would be given 39 lashes as punishment for their crime."
She said Nuh ordered $4,900 to be returned to the pharmacist, who is an al-Shabaab supporter.
"This shameful and ludicrous decision really surprised me and I consider it to be intended to deceive and mislead people and encourage members of the group to plunder private and family possessions," Abdirahman told Sabahi.
This is just the latest example of how al-Shabaab's punishments are arbitrary and hypocritical, as militants found guilty of crimes do not have to suffer the prescribed punishments, she said, adding that militants have also launched reprisals against Somali civilians, including kidnapping or beheading relatives of officials from Gedo and Hiran.
Abdirahman urged Somali government forces to put an end to al-Shabaab's horrendous practices of kidnapping, killing, torture and beating.
Straying from sharia law
In Hiran, al-Shabaab has been issuing orders that have no relation to sharia so its members can get away with robbery and adultery, said Hiran police chief Colonel Isaaq Ali Abdullahi.
Al-Shabaab's judges do not possess a full understanding of Islamic jurisprudence and the tenets of a fair and impartial justice system, he said. Their judgements are invalid because they are politically motivated, vengeful and based on a complicit justice system, he said.
Abdullahi accused al-Shabaab of beheading an elderly man and a young boy May 22nd in Dudumo Qaris, 45 kilometres northwest of Beledweyne. Militants also stole dozens of camels from the village, he said.
"The time has come to hunt down these traitors from al-Shabaab, which is linked to al-Qaeda, and drive them away from the various towns and villages in the region to end the injustice, oppression, discrimination and marginalisation [of citizens]," Abdullahi told Sabahi.
"We have reached a state where we need to realise our aspirations, because soon the dawn of freedom will be upon us, which our people deserve because of their huge sacrifices," he said.
Ahmed Abdullahi Osman Inji, Hiran's former deputy security chief, said the two victims were his 90-year-old uncle, Hussein Aadan Toore, and Toore's son. The executioners beheaded them with a sharp dagger and left them to bleed to death.
No matter how long it takes, al-Shabaab will one day be defeated and its leaders will have to go before a military court to answer for their dark misdeeds, Inji said.
"The bombings and beheadings cannot go on," Inji said. "Government forces are running out of time to implement their military operations to prevent [al-Shabaab's] obscene methods designed to inflict pain and hardship on the Somali people, who have been forced to swallow the bitterness of misery and deprivation of a decent living."
Fate of 6 kidnapped Somalis still unknown
The whereabouts of six civilians remain unknown nearly two weeks after suspected al-Shabaab fighters abducted them from Gedo on May 23rd.
The kidnapping took place in the 40 kilometres between El Waq and Bu Sar, said El Waq district commissioner Sahal Malim Ali. Authorities later recovered the charred ruins of a car and motorcycle, which the alleged militants used in the operation before burning and abandoning them, he said.
Ali said his administration is still hunting for the kidnappers.
Al-Shabaab has not claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, but Ali said the method of attack fits with the recent tactics of al-Shabaab, which has resorted abductions, beheadings, and plundering of public and private property to strike fear in residents of areas under Somali government control.
Reeling from heavy military losses, al-Shabaab is trying to divide the populace by provoking strife and tribal uprisings against the government, he said, adding that the Somali people will not give in to intimidation.
Neither sharia law nor international law sanctions kidnapping, Ali said. In combat, wartime rules of engagement apply to captured enemy combatants, but holding civilians as captives is an unjust, illegitimate and unacceptable tactic for exerting pressure, he said.