Sunday, October 11, 2009

How Kenya's 'Little Mogadishu' became a hub for Somali militants

The Christian Science Monitor (US)
26 August 2009
The streets of Eastleigh, a Somali enclave of Kenya's capital, Nairobi, are crowded and dirty. Sewage and rotting garbage flow through gullies. Police are virtually nonexistent; restaurants are locked, even when open, for safety reasons; and guns are readily available for sale at the market.

No one ever said "Little Mogadishu" was paradise, but now the sprawling neighborhood has become a hub of financing and recruiting for militant Islamists waging holy war in neighboring Somalia, according to residents, security analysts, and diplomats.

"Those who kill people in Somalia are also here – scattered all over the place," says an elderly Sufi Muslim sheikh matter-of-factly. "This is the hotspot of the Somali fundamentalism.... They are recruiting right here in Nairobi."

In the latest chapter in a civil war that has raged since 1991, Somalia's radical insurgents this week rejected the Western-backed transitional government's call for a cease-fire during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Militant and moderate Islamists are battling for control of the rubble-strewn streets of Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, fighting that has forced more than 1.4 million people to flee their homes and caused what the United Nations on Wednesday called the country's worst humanitarian crisis in 18 years of war.

But here in Eastleigh, the war takes a different form.

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How one youth was drawn to jihad in Somalia

The Christian Science Monitor (US)
19 July 2009


A smattering of wispy clouds dots the blue sky as white-robed worshipers trickle into Taqwa mosque for Friday prayers. Our car is parked outside the mosque, slightly hidden by a hedgerow of tangled savannah brush that defines the mosque's perimeter. A cool, dry wind blows across this arid town – refreshing against the equatorial heat, but leaving a blanket of dust on the whitewashed buildings.

The car's tinted windows are rolled up to protect against the fine film of dust – and to conceal me from sight.

Isiolo is smack in the center of Kenya, far from Somalia. But the sermon pouring out of the mosque's loudspeakers is in Somali. We listen for a few minutes before the driver abruptly pulls away.

"If they catch us spying on them, we'll be stoned," he says.

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Recruiting Somalis in Kenya

Public Radio International's "The World"
14 July 2009

Milgo Ahmed worries other young men will follow her cousin's path.

ISIOLO, KENYA -Somalia has experienced almost constant conflict since the collapse of its central government in 1991. The long-running instability has created misery for its people. And it’s spilled over into its east African neighbor, Kenya, home to many ethnic Somalis.

Heba Aly has the story of one Kenyan community – hundreds of miles from the border – that’s lost one of its young men to the insurgency.

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