SOMALIA: Al-Shabaab Wants Girls to Join Warfront Against Govt

Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Eastern Africa
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
General Women, Peace and Security
Human Rights

Sheikh Fu'ad Mohamed Khalaf Shongole, the chief of awareness raising of al-Shabaab, the radical Islamist group opposing the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, has insisted that unmarried girls should join the Jihad (holy war) against the pro-government forces.

Addressing a congregation at the weekend at a mosque at Eelasha Biyaha, a large settlement south of Mogadishu where thousands of people who fled the wars in Mogadishu found refuge, Sheikh Shongole ordered parents to inspire the girls to fight for the Islamist movement.

"At this stage of the jihad, fathers and mothers must send their unmarried girls to fight alongside the (male) militants," Sheikh Shongole said.

He added that girls could form formidable fighting units in all the movement's brigades.

According to information periodically released by the movement, the main brigades include hooded fighters, landmine planters, and character targeting operatives, suicide bombers and beheading executers.

Al-Shabaab had always employed men, especially young boys, to fight for the movement.

However, it has recently been encouraging people from across society, including community elders, to join the struggle.

Sheikh Shongole's statement provoked anxiety among the girls and parents in areas controlled by al-Shabaab, the movement which early this month merged with al-Qaeda.

The sheikh's oration contradicted an earlier statement by Sheikh Ali Mohamoud Raghe alias Sheikh Ali Dhere, the spokesperson of al-Shabaab.

Reacting to a conference concluded by Somalia's political groups at Garowe Town, 1,000 kilometres northeast of Mogadishu, Sheikh Ali Dhere stated that the gathering was counterproductive for Somalis.

The cleric underlined that the meeting outcomes (signed by Somali leaders from the TFG and regional authorities together with the international community) were particularly injurious to the society by giving women undeserved role in the decision making process.

Without being specific, Sheikh Ali Dhere criticised the leaders for concluding that future parliament in Somalia is made up of 250 MPs with at least 50 women legislators in it.

The Garowe outcome also endorsed a process of selecting 1,000 representatives for a constituent assembly to endorse the draft constitution for Somalia.

The cleric was annoyed by the the conclusion that the endorsed constituent assembly is required to accommodate at least 30 per cent women representation and the rest from the general public.