The Toronto Star – July 12, 2012
A Canadian woman at the centre of Somalia’s Al Qaeda is known among the intelligence agencies that track her and the foreign militants who praise her simply as “Mama Shabab.” It is an honorific title for former Toronto resident Fadumo Jama, who intelligence agencies allege is the den mother of al Shabab who runs a safe house for Western fighters recruited into the militant Islamic organization.
While she moves frequently, using forged passports from African countries, it is believed she has operated a home in the Somali town of Merca for at least four years and has supported American and European recruits in the weeks before their suicide bombing missions. Jama is a well-known figure to intelligence agencies in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Somalia, yet her name does not appear in any public documents and she has not been charged. Her role facilitating Western recruits exemplifies the increasing importance of women to the Shabab — although her position of authority is rare, as most females are recruited only as wives for the fighters or suicide bombers. Canadian Security Intelligence Service director Richard Fadden told a Senate committee earlier this year that this was an emerging trend.
Two young Toronto women raised in Canada after their parents fled Somalia when the government collapsed two decades ago were among those reportedly lured into the group last year, defying their families and flying to Kenya’s capital before crossing the border.