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 Mesaj Başlığı: Somalia's Sufi forces organise in face of Shebab
MesajGönderilme zamanı: 15.10.09, 08:55 #mesajın linki (?)

Kayıt: 09.02.09, 14:18
Mesajlar: 96
Somalia: Militants in Disguise

Abdi Mohamed

October 13, 2009


After over two decades of fighting, moderate Islamists have joined the fray, and are rising up to take back Somalia.

[Mogadishu, Somalia]

Ahlu Sunna Waljamaca is an old, well-known Sufi Islamist group. It is one of the new groups to have joined the two decades long fighting in Somalia. But what is surprising is that their moderation and peaceable views traditionally stood in contrast to the violence of Al-Shabab's strict ideologies.

Now their clerics are taking up arms - life is not worth living without a gun, they say.

In the past, the clan and the shared group ideology was the channel by which the first preachers spread Islam throughout Somalia. The graves of past Sheikhs still play an important role in the Sufi clan communities, being the focus of visitations, tributes and prayer.

After Al-Shabab militants began calling for these beliefs to be eliminated and were linked to the killings of several sheikhs as well as desecrating past sheikhs' graves, moderate Sufis began taking up arms, in a declaration of war against Al-Shabab.

In December 2008 violent clashes erupted proper. Sufis experienced early success as Al-Shabab was driven out of several towns in the central region of Galgadud, but the cost of taking up arms is greater than some might have expected.

Standing in an arid courtyard it's exercise time as Sheikh Omar Sheikh Mohamed Farah, chairman of Ahlu Sunna, is encouraging his fighters to stand firm against Al-Shabab.

"We have to be ready to fight those distorting our religion,’’ he says raising his arms, an AK47 rifle in one and the Holy Qur'an in the other.

"We have never liked to fight but this is a time to do so. Our people and our sheikhs are being killed, our sheikhs’ graves are being desecrated,’’ he furiously shouts.

Creeping along their chests and elbows in the pre-dawn exercise, the fighters are chanting religious words in Arabic at the top of their voices, praising the prophet Mohamed.

But there are different men of different ages in the group, and they are attracting more moderate volunteers.

Abdullahi Huriye, a thin, tall fighter, was a high school student learning in Mogadishu but returned to the central region of Galgadud to defend his beliefs against what he termed "crazy men’’.

"I’m ready to die for my faith and Sufism,’’ he told The Media Line, taking up his gun.

There are now fears that the motives that forced people to fight are expanding to such an extent that there may be no end in sight.

"We shall never put down our guns unless there is peace and there is no longer any Shabab or Islamists who misinterpret Islam- Islam is peace," Sheikh Abdullahi Sheikh Abu-Yusuf, the spokesman of Ahlu Sunna Waljamaca told The Media Line.

"Islam says all religions should live peacefully and become neighbors," he stoutly said riding on an armored vehicle with his fighters on their way to the frontline.

The reputation of Sufis as being peaceful clerics is the main reason more Somalis are taking up arms for the group, which he termed the "followers of the prophet Mohamed".

Since Al-Shabab was ousted from the area, there is at least some semblance of peace. Foreigners can walk on the streets albeit with guns and guards, in the town of Dhusomareb, once a stronghold of Al-Shabab where U.S warplanes killed Al-Shabab leader Aden Hashi Eyrow in 2007.

But this veneer of peace is fading as the group readies itself to extend its fighting further afield.

"Our Jihad is for the freedom of our religion and of Muslims’ property which Al-Shabab describes legal for them to loot,’’ Abu-Yusuf snappily said after taking a phone call from Mogadishu telling him that Al-Shabab executed two men for espionage.

"They kill anyone who does not want their crazy ideologies and fake justifications,’’ he adds.

Though daytime is a busy time for the Sufis, they are protected in their bunkers at night by some vigilant eyes.

"I’m wide awake to look out for Al-Shabab movements and to shoot if needs be,’’ Nor Ahlusunna told The Media Line in his foxhole on the frontline.

Nor is one of the first fighters to have joined the group, and is now part of its backbone, he quickly gained recognition during the fighting which saw off Al-Shabab from important towns in the region.

In contrast to Al-Shabab, there are no strict religious punishments in the group’s strongholds such as, whipping, executions and amputations, rather people are being peacefully preached to practice the religion well.

"The Sufis will forever be our religion’s clerics. They were the first ones to spread Islam in our country,’’ Somali educator Abdulle Nur told The Media Line by phone from Nairobi, Kenya.

The central region of Galgadud is the only place in which Sufism was threatened as Al-Shabab forbade the performances of spiritual ceremonies in the region while it was under their control.
But now the Sufis are in charge, and this time in Galgadud, Sufis are enforcing the law, patrolling the streets and implementing justice.

Increasing numbers of sheikhs are chanting the religious eulogy throughout the night, going into raptures over the prophet Mohamed and their late sheikhs.

In front of large crowds in Guriel town, Ahlu Sunna Sheikh is telling people to hand over any information regarding anyone linked to Al-Shabab.

According to Abu-yusuf, trial and imprisonment has replaced the previously commonplace practice under Al-Shabab of execution. It is a marked contrast from the Al-Shabab’s strongholds in which anyone who cooperates with the Somali government or with foreign troops counts as a traitor and an infidel, and mostly killed under ad-hoc courts' verdicts.

"We will never shed any humans’ blood meaninglessly like Al-Shabab,’’ said Sheikh Ali, a Sufi cleric.

The Ahlu Sunna Waljamaca clerics are known for their frequent, ritual ceremonies and feasts to which residents are invited.

"I like the Sufis for their openness and free food and meat,’’ resident Abbas Abdi Mahi told The Media Line.

Indeed the hopes of the Sufi revolutionary advances are high after the lucrative capture of towns from the Al-Shabab militants and after seeing the residents praise them with good etiquettes.

“We’ve experienced the control of Al-Shabab and Ahlusunna, Ahlusunna are not coercing people like Al-Shabab. When there is a wedding party, people play music and dance, they [Ahlusunna] never arrest them but they preach for women and men to dance unconnectedly. The Al-Shabab stop these things,’’ Galgadud resident Mohamed Haji told The Media Line.

Driving along a street in Guriel town, the group’s stronghold, songs are being played on radios and TVs without fear.

"The leaders of this group are not wanted by western countries as terrorists, nor are they violent like Al-Shabab because their ideology is moderate," said Bashir Hassan, a Somali teacher in Galgadud.

"Their people support them so they will never be detested" he added. ... wsID=26765

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 Mesaj Başlığı: Somalia's Sufi forces organise in face of Shebab
MesajGönderilme zamanı: 10.11.09, 12:41 #mesajın linki (?)

Kayıt: 09.02.09, 14:18
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Somalia's Sufi forces organise in face of Shebab

By Ali Musa Abdi

Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Muhieddin, chairman of Ahlu Sunna wal Jamaa, pictured in Nairobi

NAIROBI — Somalia's main Sufi movement, Ahlu Sunna wal Jamaa, on Thursday wrapped up an unprecedented conference in Nairobi to strategise its response to the rise and radicalisation of the Shebab group.
Dozens of the usually quiet religious movement's leaders have in recent days converged on Nairobi from Somalia and from Western exile to close ranks against what they see as an existential threat.
"The Shebab are misguided people who have misunderstood the true values of Islam," overall chairman Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Muhieddin told AFP before leaving Kenya Thursday.
Sufism is dominant in clannish Somalia, where Muslim saints are often also clan founders, but its leading clerics have voiced concern that hardline Islamist groups such as the Al Qaeda-inspired Shebab were slowly eradicating it.
It emphasises the mystical dimension of Islam and includes practices considered as idolatry by the followers of the Wahhabi sect adopted by the Shebab.
A year ago, Ahlu Sunna wal Jamaa ('The Companions of the Prophet') took up arms after the Shebab started hunting down Sufi faithful and desecrating their holy sites, notably in and around the southern Somali city of Kismayo.
"The Ahlu Sunna wal Jamaa fighters are not a regular army who long for power, they are defending themselves and the lives of other Somalis whose way of life is threatened by the Shebab's madness," Sheikh Sharif said.
The Ahlu Sunna leader, the son of respected Somali cleric Sheikh Muhieddin Eli, explained the current conflict as a continuation of old religious feuds between Muslims touched off by the death of Prophet Mohamed.
"A group of people who were known as the Khawarij (or Kharijite) came to kill other Muslims who did not share their views. Now the Shebab are killing Somalis because they are not with them," he said.
As Ahlu Sunna wal Jamaa gathered in Nairobi for its inaugural "war council", a man sometimes described as the movement's political face was also in the Kenyan capital to seek support.
Recently appointed president of the semi-autonomous central state of Galmudug with Ahlu Sunna wal Jamaa's blessing, Mohamed Ahmed Alin argued that his administration can help achieve what the central government in Mogadishu and its Western backers have failed to do.
"With some cooperation, I believe the Shebab could be eliminated from most of the country," he told AFP. "We need infrastructure support, military support, training of our troops but so far, just words and no action."
While the organisation's military strength remains unclear, its grassroots nature gives it a popular legitimacy and territorial reach that no other movement can boast in fractious Somalia.
"In my region for example, Ahlu Sunna wal Jamaa never used to be a political affiliation. Everybody is Ahlu Sunna, that's all," said Alin.
And despite the religious movement taking on a new and more political dimension as it seeks to beef up against the Islamist threat, its top leaders are quick to emphasise they have no further ambitions.
"We are not after power, what we we are fighting for is a peaceful Somalia governed by its elected leaders," said Abdulkadir Mohamed Somow, a senior Ahlu Sunna wal Jamaa leader from Mogadishu.
"Our movement is fighting the Shebab forces of anarchy but we will lay down our weapons as soon as they have been eliminated," he said.
Another senior Ahlu Sunna figure based in Garowe, the administrative capital of the northern semi-autonomous state of Puntland, was more circumspect.
"If it is God's will we may one day have a role to play in running the country, but it is too early to say more, there are consultations going on in Nairobi and elsewhere," Abdullahi Mohamoud Hassan said.

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 Mesaj Başlığı: Re: Somalia's Sufi forces organise in face of Shebab
MesajGönderilme zamanı: 12.01.10, 14:08 #mesajın linki (?)

Kayıt: 09.02.09, 14:18
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Sectarian Fighting Erupts in Central Somalia

Alisha Ryu


02 January 2010

Nearly a dozen people have been killed in fighting in central Somalia between a Sufi Muslim group and al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab militants

Ahlu-Sunna spokesman Sheik Abdullahi Sheik AbuYusuf says heavily-armed al-Shabab fighters attacked Dhusamareb town early Saturday with gunfire and mortars.

The spokesman adds that many al-Shabab fighters were killed in the day-long battle and Ahlu-Sunna is still in control of the town in the Galgadud region, about 560 kilometers north of Mogadishu. His group, he says, will re-double its efforts to win the war against al-Shabab.

But late Saturday, the Mogadishu-based spokesman for al-Shabab, Ali Mohamed Rage, also known as Ali Dhere, also claimed victory.

Rage says al-Shabab received assistance from locals to defeat Ahlu-Sunna forces in Dhusamareb. He says al-Shabab now has control of the town.

Eyewitnesses say most of the residents have fled, fearing more violence between the Islamist rivals.

Ahlu-Sunna Wal-Jamaa took up arms against al-Shabab more than a year ago, after al-Shabab militants desecrated the graves of revered Sufi clerics. For several years, al-Shabab, which follows the ultra-conservative branch of Islam propagated by al-Qaida and the Taliban, has been trying to eradicate Sufism, a mystical branch of Islam, which has deep roots in Somalia.

The sectarian war between Ahlu-Sunna and al-Shabab is just one of several conflicts raging between and among Islamist groups in Somalia. In September, a power struggle erupted in violence in the lower Juba region between al-Shabab and Hizbul Islam, a clan-based Islamist-nationalist group which had been al-Shabab's main ally in its year-long battle to overthrow the U.N.-backed government in Mogadishu.

A suicide bombing on December 3 at a graduation ceremony for medical students in Mogadishu tested al-Shabab's unity as well, when several of the group's leaders reportedly balked at taking responsibility for a bombing that killed and wounded more than 60 civilians.

Reports from Somalia at the time said that al-Shabab leader Muktar Robow Abu Mansoor and spokesman Ali Mohamed Rage were deeply concerned that the bombing, believed to have been planned and executed by al-Qaida-trained foreigners in Somalia, could turn public opinion against al-Shabab. Some reports said the dispute had caused al-Shabab to split into two factions.

But on Friday, Robow and Rage were again seen in the company of ultra-hardliners at an al-Shabab-run military camp in north Mogadishu. In a fresh show of leadership, Robow presented hundreds of new fighters, declaring that al-Shabab was ready to send reinforcements to Yemen to assist al-Qaida there in its fight against the West.

In May 2008, a U.S. missile killed the founder of al-Shabab, Aden Hashi Ayro, at his home in Dhusamareb. ... 03652.html

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