Saturday, 28 January 2012
Anger at British military action in Muslim countries is driving scores of young Somali men who were brought up in the UK to join al-Shabaab, the Islamist insurgency in Somalia.

In an interview conducted by e-mail, a British-Somali man from North London, going by the name Abu Anwar al-Muhajir, told The Times that he was willing to die fighting a holy war in Somalia and hoped to return to Britain “with a band of Mujahidin fighters”.

It offers a rare insight into why so many young British-Somali men leave the West to fight for a terrorist organisation in a country they barely know.

David Cameron will host an international summit in London next month focusing on Somalia, a country he recently described as “a failed state that directly threatens British interests” through kidnapping, piracy and the radicalisation of young Britons.

British intelligence chiefs have long warned of the threat that al-Shabaab, which is linked to al-Qaeda, poses to this country. In 2010, Jonathan Evans, the head of MI5, said: “It’s only a matter of time before we see terrorism on our streets inspired by those who are today fighting alongside al-Shabaab.”

Andrew Mitchell, the International Development Secretary, said last month: “There are probably more British passport holders engaged in terrorist training in Somalia than in any other country in the world.”

Last weekend one of them, Bilal al-Berjawi from West London, was killed when missiles fired from an American drone hit his vehicle outside Mogadishu. At 27, Berjawi was already an Afghanistan veteran and a seasoned al-Shabaab commander. The Foreign Office rescinded his British citizenship last year.

Mr Muhajir, who is also in his 20s, has a more mundane role in al-Shabaab as a foot soldier manning a heavy machinegun mounted on the back of a truck. He said that growing hatred of the West had driven him to leave his family and friends in Britain and travel to Somalia two years ago.

“My conscience would not allow me to sit inactively and enjoy the luxuries of the very nation that is involved in orchestrating widespread atrocities against the Muslim around the globe,” he said. Although he would have preferred to fight in Palestine, it was easier to return to his homeland. “Upon reaching Somalia I was welcomed by the Mujahidin as a brother,” he said.

He received weapons and religious training at a jihadi camp. “We were taught how to use different kinds of weapons, from a simple pistol to anti-aircraft weapons. It was very exciting, but most importantly we were given classes on how to apply Islamic Shariah and how to better ourselves spiritually,” he said, referring to Islamic law.

The religious education has left him implacable. His vision for Somalia is: “No man-made constitutions, no UN charters, no democracy, but the pure teaching of the Koran and Sunnah.”

Al-Shabaab has employed suicide attacks in Somalia and Uganda and Mr Muhajir said that he was “willing to sacrifice my life for my faith”. Most chilling were his comments about returning to Britain. “The only time I return to Britain would be with a band of Mujahidin fighters and our objective would be to raise the banner of Tawhid above all the cities of United Kingdom,” he declared, referring to the doctrine of the oneness of God. He did not tell his family of his plan to go to Somalia for fear that they might try to dissuade him or report him to the authorities.

Abdirahman Omar Osman, a government spokesman in Mogadishu, said that the influx of young British-Somalis was a real worry. “It is a very major concern for us in Somalia and for the UK,” said Mr Osman, who lived for many years in West London.

He said that Britons and Somalis must share the blame. “Parents have responsibility but so does Britain, where young Somalis are marginalised. They are not part of society.”
Source: The Times (£)


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Anger at British military action in Muslim countries is driving scores of young Somali men who were brought up in the UK to join al-Shabaab, the Islamist insurgency in Somalia.

That is what I predicted would happen when we went into Afghanistan and Iraq, almost a decade ago. Our cause was just and noble - to make these countries a light to the Islamic world - to install a liberal democracy and equality for women. The fact that it has not worked, is not the point. We must continue in doing this noble task despite the results.

The fact that Muslims in the West will see this as a Crusade, and drive out Christians in Muslim countries, is again not the point. If they start a war in the West, then so be it.

bewick said...

And, I wonder, did this man get British citizenship as a "frightened asylum seeker" ? I am glad to see that citizenship was rescinded in another case. I suggest that ALL who return to the country they fled "in fear" but now "on holiday" or otherwise also have their citizenship rescinded and their extended families deported. After all they got citizenship on a lie.
I happen to find it offensive that such are described as "British". Just as dumbing down of degrees devalues earlier and hard won degrees so does conferring "Briton" on so many devalue "British". It also devalues the many genuine asylum seekers and immigrants who so often go on to integrate and add value to society.
I wasn't a racist. I regret that I am now a racist in some cases.
Perhaps we need "conditional" citizenship.


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