Wednesday, September 22, 2010

074. Somalia: Islamic terror surges

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 074 | Wed 22 Sep 2010

SOMALIA: ISLAMIC TERROR SURGES

Civil war erupted in Somalia in February 2006. The 'Islamic Courts Union' (ICU), an alliance of Sharia-enforcers linked to Mogadishu's clan-based Sharia courts, rose up against the 'Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Anti-Terrorism', clan warlords who had been guarding the UN-backed, US-funded Transitional Federal Government (TFG). When Mogadishu fell to the ICU in June 2006, the TFG fled to the regional town Baidoa near the Ethiopian border. After Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, a designated terrorist and the former head of al-Qaeda-linked al-Itihaad al-Islamiya, was subsequently appointed head of the then ICU's Sura Council (parliament) he announced: 'He who does not perform [Islamic] prayer will be considered as infidel and our Sharia Law orders that person to be killed.' Also, Aweys not only threatened Somalis, but as a Somali irredentist (one who seeks a 'Greater Somalia') and an Islamic jihadist, Aweys and his regime were a threat to Ethiopia's national security.

On 20 July 2006 US-backed Ethiopian forces entered Somalia to defend the besieged TFG and oust the ICU. The Islamists responded by declaring jihad. By December 2006 Ethiopia (a vastly superior military force) had ousted the ICU. However, as the US has found in Afghanistan and Iraq, 'victory' simply marks the beginning of a bloody insurgency. Ethiopia's conventional army, burdened with rules of engagement and long supply-lines, never stood a chance against the never-ending supply of well-armed, well-supplied, trained and indoctrinated Somali and international Islamic jihadists. Of all the insurgent groups, al-Shabab is the most radical and aggressive. An offshoot of the ICU, this youthful, al-Qaeda-backed group seeks to establish a Taliban-style Islamic state. Over the next two years, the jihadists regained control over much of southern Somalia.

In January 2009 battle-weary Ethiopia, frustrated by lack of international support, withdrew its forces, allowing the Islamists to flood back into Mogadishu where they continue the fight against the African Union-backed TFG forces. The TFG tried to broker peace by offering to implement Sharia Law, but this was not enough for the jihadists who are now running military training camps and recruiting internationally, including from amongst Somali refugee and emigrant communities, specifically disconnected Somali youths holding foreign passports.

In its campaign to eliminate 'vice', al-Shabab has stoned to death girls who have been raped, shot and killed boys caught watching football and executed many 'apostates'. In September 2008 Mansuur Mohammed (25) became the first Somali Christian to be martyred at the hands of al-Shabab. After being publically denounced as a 'murtid' (traitor to Islam), Mohammed rejected an offer to convert to Islam and be spared, submitting instead to a public beheading, a film of which was widely distributed. In February 2009 al-Shabab militants beheaded Musa Mohammed Yusuf's 11- and 13-year-old sons after he refused to divulge information about a local church leader. On 10 July 2009 seven Somalis were publically beheaded in Baidoa simply for being Christians. To date some 20 Somali Christians -- most of them church leaders -- are known to have been shot or beheaded as al-Shabab systematically targets the Somali Church for elimination.

On 21 July 2010 al-Shabab militants entered Osman Abdullah Fataho's home in Afgoi, 30km from Mogadishu, and shot him dead in front of his wife and children. A long-time Christian, Fataho was targeted because he was a convert from Islam and active in Somalia's underground church. After abducting Fataho's wife and four children, the militants released her but kept her four children aged 5 to 15 to be brainwashed and trained as jihadists.

Al-Shahab has local, regional and international ambitions. Despite some power struggles, al-Shabab remains allied to Aweys' Hizbul Islam. Last weekend they seized radio and TV outlets in Mogadishu. On Monday 20 September a suicide bomber blew himself up at the gates of the TFG Presidential Palace after being shot while attempting to gain entrance. The bomber was a former Interior Ministry security guard who had defected to al-Shabab. Now the jihadists are literally at the gate.

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL:

* surround Osman Abdullah Fataho's widow and all Somalia's grieving, traumatised Christians with his everlasting love and fill them with his peace.

* preserve, comfort and intervene to deliver Ali Daud Fataho (5), Fatuma Safia Fataho (7), Sharif Ahmed Fataho (10) and Nur Said Fataho (15) for the sake of the Church, the children, and their faithful parents -- one a martyr, the other a torn and grieving widow.

'When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her. . .' (Luke 7:13, when Jesus raises a widow's son. See also Philippians 2:27)

* intervene in Somalia's chaos to protect and deliver his Church; may the enemy know only confusion, frustration and failure, being splintered and mortally weakened; may Islam not escape scrutiny; and may the trauma, tears and disillusionment serve to prepare the ground for an awesome work of God.

'For nothing will be impossible with God.' (Luke 1:37 ESV)

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SUMMARY TO USE IN BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
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ISLAMIC TERROR IN SOMALIA

Having captured most of southern and central Somalia, Islamic jihadists are now fighting to control the capital Mogadishu. Al-Shabab, the most radical and aggressive of the insurgent groups, is systematically targeting the Church for elimination. Some 20 Christians, mostly church leaders, have been shot or beheaded by al-Shabab over the past two years. On 21 July al-Shabab militants shot dead long-time Christian, Osman Abdullah Fataho, in his home in front of his wife and children. Fataho was targeted because he was an apostate (convert from Islam) and active in Somalia's underground church. The jihadists abducted Fataho's family, later releasing his wife but keeping her four children aged 5 to 15 to be trained as jihadists. Please pray for this family and for the Church in Somalia.