News Agencies – October 31, 2011
The al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabab released an audiotape it said was a message from a Somali-American suicide bomber who struck an African Union base in Mogadishu this weekend, killing 10. The English-language message specifically called for terrorist attacks in Canada and said it was a duty for Muslims to fight for Islam, urging listeners not to “just sit around and be a couch potato and just chill all day.”
The message appears to be the latest attempt by Al-Shabab to incite Western youths. Canadian authorities are investigating as many as 20 Canadians who are suspected of having joined the Islamist extremist group.
The Toronto Star – June 26, 2011
Mubin Shaikh, a police insider who infiltrated a group plotting in 2006 to blow up Toronto’s downtown, along with Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, a 37-year-old Somalia-born Canadian who has experienced the frontlines of Mogadishu’s relentless war and Kamran Bokhari, a Pakistan-born, U.S.-raised and -educated analyst with an American private sector intelligence firm, attended the Summit Against Violent Extremism (SAVE) in Dublin, Ireland.
Co-sponsored by the Council of Foreign Relations and the Tribeca Film Festival, the summit has been designed to probe why young people turn to violent extremism.
90 “formers” — past members of violent groups ranging from neo-Nazis to Islamic extremists to Latin American street gangs — will come together with a hodgepodge of academics and analysts from around the world. They will join the “survivors” — victims of violence or terrorist attacks.
Bokhari believes there is general reluctance in Canada, both within Muslim communities and at the federal government level, to talk openly about the problem. Shaikh’s grievances have been more public. After the Toronto 18 case, he says, he wasn’t prepared for the backlash from many Muslims who regarded him as a traitor.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently announced a new, five-year program to combat terrorism while commemorating the 26th anniversary of the Air India bombing. The $10-million initiative will focus on anti-terrorism research and conferences, a press release stated.
The Toronto Star – June 8, 2011
A Somali-born Canadian who reportedly led a faction of the outlawed Al Shabab fighters was killed during clashes according to the country’s government-led radio station. A photo of the young man identified as “Abdirahman Canadian” was posted on the Somali website Radio Mogadishu. An army commander with the country’s transitional federal government told reporters a Canadian passport was later found in his pickup truck.
Government troops shot him along with another man when they failed to stop at a government-controlled checkpoint, the radio station reported.
Al Shabab, a radical group fighting to instill an Islamic government in Somalia and has pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda, was designated a terrorist organization in Canada last March. At least 10 Canadian men of Somali origins have disappeared from Toronto and Ottawa since 2009, reportedly to join the group. Mohammed Elmi Ibrahim, one of missing men who was from Scarborough and in his early 20’s, was reportedly killed in battle in March 2010. Fear again struck Toronto’s Somali community this year when news spread about two young women who had also fled to Mogadishu to join the Shabab.
Five friends, in their early to mid-20s, grew up and attended schools in Toronto, Canada. They spoke English and Somali. At least two of them were university students.The Star has learned Canadian intelligence officials were watching at least one of the young men several months before he mysteriously left home.
Mahad Dhorre, Mustafa Mohamed, Mohamed Abscir and a fourth we know only as Ahmed vanished the first week of November. A fifth, Ahmed Elmi, left his home in Scarborough about three months ago. A sixth man, an Afghan, who worshipped at the same mosque, is also reportedly missing.
Online propaganda – a mix of nationalist sentiment, religious ideology and tough talk – is enough to recruit young Somali men looking for a purpose and willing to take up arms in their homeland, say community leaders in Canada and the US RCMP and Canadian Security Intelligence Service officers are investigating the disappearances, canvassing areas in Little Mogadishu and questioning families. Of the 20 or so Somali-Americans who have gone missing, at least five have been killed in Somalia. One died in a suicide bombing in October 2008, part of coordinated attacks that killed 20 people.
French security agent kidnapped by insurgents in Somalia last month said he escaped while his captors slept, then walked five hours through one of the most dangerous cities in the world to safety at the country’s presidential palace.
Marc Aubriere, who was seized along with another agent in July 14, denied reports that he killed any of his captors during his escape. Mr. Aubriere and another agent were kidnapped from a hotel in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, then split up between the rebel groups al-Shabab and its ally Hizbul-Islam. The second hostage was still being held.
Hope that talks with Islamist rebels in Somalia might lead to the rapid release of two French agents has receded amid conflicting reports over the status of negotiations. The pair, French defence officials on a mission to support Somalia’s transition government, were seized from a Mogadishu hotel room and are believed to be in the hands of the rebel militia. A senior member of the Shebab proclaimed that the French pair would be charged with spying and tried under Islamic law in a Sharia court. Some locals have suggested the hostage-taking is in retaliation to a recent trial against Somali piracy in Paris.
Two French nationals kidnapped after gunmen stormed into a hotel in Mogadishu are now being held by a Somali al-Qaeda-linked group, according to reports. The two French security advisers will be tried under Sharia law, claims an official from their captors, the Islamic al-Shabab militia. The unnamed spokesperson said they would be tried for spying and “conspiracy against Islam”.
Reuters, citing rebel sources, said the hostages were initially given to Hizbul Islam, one of the Islamist groups fighting the Somali government. They had handed one hostage over to al Shabaab earlier in the week, and the other on Thursday night. The men were abducted at the Sahafi Hotel in the capital while on a mission to train the Somali government forces that are fighting Islamist forces. Al Shabaab — which is on the United States’ terror list — wants to overthrow Somalia’s transitional government and implement a more radical version of sharia.