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How has September 11 Affected Somalia and the Somalis?

by Abdi-Noor Haji Mohamed  

Is there any evidence that we, Somalis, took part in any terrorist action carried out against the Americans? I think no though we are always criminalized for having links with terrorists.

Those who slammed planes on American buildings were all Arabs yet those Arab countries from which terrorists originate are not branded as terrorists. It is Somalia where all eyes are drawn upon. Why?

It could be true that some elements might take advantage of the lawlessness existing in our country by turning Somalia into a terrorist safe haven but, still, can we be held responsible by giving shelter to a bunch of guilty men?

Why can't the country and people of these guilty men be contacted to bring the fugitive to justice instead of letting us live in constant intimidation by flying sophisticated surveillance planes in our skies?

It is not the host group that should come under threat; instead it is the group they (terrorists) originally belonged to who should face the music if they don't hand them over to justice. There is no universal formula that can be applied in all situations even if the issues under question have great similarities.

It seems to me that the poor countries are being punished for the crimes committed by rich nations. The word Terrorism will linger for a long time in Somali politics so long as there is poverty in this country. It will persist longer that we can imagine if the cultural and religious factors of the War on Terror Project are overlooked and material interests are given a priority much higher than that of human life.

On the other side of the coin, war on Terror has had more negative impact on Somalia than any other community in Africa or many parts of the world. First its Money transfer companies, notably Al-Barakat Bank of Somalia, have been closed and many other financial bureaus commonly known as Hawala were brought under close observation as regards to their operations and movements. When the assets of Al-Barakat has been frozen, this is what a lamenting customer had to say:

My family is suffering from starvation
I lack money to buy some food for them
Remittances did not reach me this month
The bank of Al-Barakat has been closed
It was the only life-line this family had
I am buried in a heap of financial troubles
I can't afford to settle them decently
Nor can I find a way to escape the mess
September 11 had stripped me naked
Please give me that newspaper over there
Let me see if I can cover my manhood
With the pictures of Twin Towers 

On the part of Somali refugees, September 11 had jeopardized the resettlement process in Kenya and other African countries where more than a hundred thousand of Somalis are staying on refugee status. Quite a number of flights have been suspended as a result of September 11 developments, leaving thousands of Somalis sink deeper in the fathomless pits of misery. Some families who were supposed to be together by now are still not re-united and some cases had been dropped totally.

Not only that, but September 11 has had political ramifications on us as well. The newly formed TNG in the year 2000 found itself immersed in troubled waters after some of its cabinet members and MP's have been accused of having links with terrorists. And instead of supporting that fragile government the world sidelined it as a potential threat to the entire horn of Africa. Warships from multinational forces have seized control of our seas and Somalis have been put in an environment of fear and suspicion.

On the economic front, September 11 had discouraged the world from coming to Somalia for business and commercial investment. Lack of foreign currency earnings led to escalating prices and a major devaluation of the Somali shilling. The majority of the Somali people who unfortunately happen to be in the least income bracket were forced to live in the most appalling conditions of destitution and deprivation. The UN and international organizations have down-sized their presence and inputs in Somalia to comply with the propaganda widely spread about Somalia.

Like a snake spiraling back to its hole they all ended up in Nairobi to monitor situation from that end. May be they were using binoculars to watch us from the ivory towers of that beautiful city. They lay off hundreds of workers and phased out numerous humanitarian projects aimed at improving the lives of the people devastated by wars and famine. What does a child at a feeding camp know about September 11 or a show-off-war between Bush and Bin Ladin? However, there were few agencies that had remained with us despite tremendous hardships and widespread insecurity in Somalia. These agencies deserve our admiration and support.

September 11 has disrupted our education system. A case in point is the closure of orphanage schools run by Al-Xarameyn welfare agency in Mogadishu. Can such a move be comprehensible to the mind of a six year old orphan girl? After all why do you close a school if you don't provide another school to the student? Let the tussle between you and the organization go but the child should not be sent in the streets to rub shoulders with the wrong company such as gunmen and marauding militia. Thanks to Somali businessmen and other well wishers who raised funds and subsequently re-opened the school.

As a fresh greeting of the year 2006, September 11 gave us proxy war as a new year present when warlords allegedly assisted by the Americans went head on collision with the Union of Islamic Courts in Mogadishu on February this year. But the warlords were chased out after the clerics won the battle. The motive behind the war was to capture terrorists suspected to be hiding in Mogadishu and hand them over to the Americans. But to capture three or four terrorists, we lost more than 500 persons, mainly innocent civilians who have been killed by strayed bullets and rockets. Thousands were displaced or crossed the border to seek safety and protection in neighboring countries. And the most unbelievable part of the story is that Warlords who were themselves terrorists were assigned to hunt for terrorists in Mogadishu, thus giving them a license to kill thousands of innocent people.

I think America has redefined the term "Terrorist". According to what happened in Somalia during the proxy war, terrorism is implicated only to those who had killed Americans making it clear to everybody that those who kill Somalis are not terrorists. It is sad to say but, given the scenarios unfolding before our own eyes, I predict a grim and a more painful picture in the next update of September 11 2007. Let's hope that I am wrong.

Abdi-Noor Haji Mohamed
[email protected]


The opinions contained in this article are solely those of the writer, and in no way, form or shape represent the editorial opinions of "Hiiraan Online"

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