Information and news about terrorism

Mogadishu Tourist Destination UN Al Shabaab Development
When one thinks about a possible vacation destination for the next family trip, the European havens of Paris, Rome, and Barcelona may come to mind. Maybe an exotic Asian voyage to Bangkok or a beach trip to a Caribbean island. There are countless beautiful and picturesque places in the world worthy of visiting, and the next time families are planning their vacations, the seaside Somali capital of Mogadishu may be added to the bucket list.

Yes, you read that right: war-torn Somalia, an up and coming tourist hotspot.

The September 2012 election of Hassan Sheikh Mohammed has been hailed as a “great step forward” for Somalia and is the reason for the nation’s slow but sure move to increased stability. With the first fair election in Mogadishu in 42 years and the subsequent ouster of Al-Qaeda-linked group al-Shabab, Mogadishu has been somewhat transformed, being controlled under central authority and experiencing the return of private investors.

For many, this may be a bit of a strange claim to make. It seems that every time Somalia is making headlines it’s for the violence and terrorism that plagues the west African nation. However, Mogadishu has seen what experts call an “economic renaissance” lately, with the Somali diaspora coming back to rebuild their homeland, in collaboration with entrepreneurs who never left.

Mogadishu has experienced a construction boom not only in the real estate and hospitality industries, but also in telecommunications and aviation. In fact, independent Somali airlines have recently opened up their flights to 15 domestic and international routes flown every day.

The city itself offers everything one would expect a seaside paradise to look like. Beautiful beaches and luxurious poolside resorts, surrounded by the blue waters of the Indian Ocean. The remnants of Italian colonization are apparent in the street cafes and merchants selling loaves of Italian bread and cappuccinos on the roadside.

Despite all these attractions and Mogadishu’s recent growth despite its battle scars, it is not yet a perfect paradise, as it still remains a conflict zone. Security continues to be an issue as some terrorist insurgents are still present and occasionally launch terror attacks. Despite the fact that most of al-Shabaab has been kicked out, some of its members have “melted into the population” and hidden in the city. However, Somali security forces have successfully obstructed many of the suicide attacks and have detained numerous al-Shabab members remaining in Mogadishu.

Mogadishu’s stance as a future tourism hotspot is debatable. It is clear that Somalia in general has still a long way to go, but one can only hope that greater private investment may deter lawless behavior, and turn Mogadishu into a vacation paradise in the long run.

– Elisha-Kim Desmangles
Feature Writer

Sources: BBC News, Telegraph, Washington Post
Photo: The Guardian

Kenya Al Shabaab KDF Westgate Terror Terrorism Siege Hostages
September 22, 2013 attacks stemming from political dissension in Kenya have reportedly killed 59 people and injured over 170. Gunmen opened fire in Westgate Mall in Nairobi wreaking havoc on the many shoppers spending their day at the upscale venue. On September 23, sources reported that over 30 hostages were still inside though Kenyan defense soldiers had cornered the gunmen inside the premises.

“The criminals are now all located in one place within the building… we have as good a chance to successfully neutralize the terrorists as we can hope for,” President Uhuru Kenyatta said in a speech to the nation.

Al-Shabab–a Somalian militia that is linked to Al-Qaeda–did not hesitate to take credit for the attacks. According to its official twitter account (HSM_Press–which is now suspended), Al-Shabab stated the motivation for these attacks stemmed from Kenya sending troops to fight in Somalia.

“HSM has on numerous occasions warned the #Kenyan government that failure to remove its forces from Somalia would have severe consequences—HSM Press Office (@HSM_Press) September 21, 2013.”

The attacks in Nairobi have been gruesome and uncompromising. The gunmen opened fire at innocent victims and displayed no regard for human life. It seems unlikely that a group like this would be willing to compromise through conversation and compassion as opposed to destruction and fear.

“The attack at #WestgateMall is just a very tiny fraction of what Muslims in Somalia experience at the hands of Kenyan invaders. #Westgate—HSM Press Office (@HSM_Press) September 21, 2013.”

Al-Shabab even tried to justify the attack by stating the relative “insignificance” compared to the issues Somalian citizens face. While Somalian citizens have been affected by a civil war since 1991, it is safe to say that the Eastern African region, which holds much hostility and dissension, is yearning for a time of peace and cooperation. These attacks, although mentioned to be retaliation for other unjust acts, hold no ground for making progress in the continued efforts between the two nations.

On September 22, Kenyan Soldiers had one responsibility at the Westgate mall–to get the reported 30 hostages to safety before any more gunfire erupted inside the mall. At least 1,000 people had been freed from the mall since gunfire went off, and reports also stated the militants were still holding ground inside the mall.

– Sagar Jay Patel

Sources: CNN,Twitchy
Photo: NY Daily News

More than a year ago, Mohamed Merah, a French citizen of Algerian origins, shot seven people in three different assaults. Among the victims, three were military personnel shot during two different attacks in a two day span in the French city of Montauban, one was a teacher, and three were children, killed after Merah’s attack on a Jewish school in Toulouse.

Merah claimed to have an affiliation with Al-Qaeda, and was known by the French secret services for his extreme views and was considered a potential threat. Even though he had been under surveillance for some time, police forces were still unable to prevent Mohamed Merah’s attacks.

Since 9/11, radical Islam has become a major security concern for the U.S. and other countries. The World Wide Web and the ease of access to Islam extremists’ thoughts have played a major role in the spread of radical ideologies.

Recent discoveries at Merah’s older brother’s in-law’s house have shown that access to radical Islam propaganda is almost as easy as a simple click. In a hard disk belonging to Merah’s brother, a digital library composed of several thousands of texts was found. These texts are both a guide for newbie jihadist as well as a guide to salafi indoctrination.

The websites visited by the murderer show the role of the Web in the spread of the radicalization of Islam. The websites appear in the headlines of searches of key words such as “Sharia” and “Jihad.” They espouse a more radical Islam centered around a rigorous defense of the Jihad. Translated in many languages, these websites are capable of reaching a larger public and thereby pose a greater threat.

Internet surveillance has become a national security priority in countries all over the world. And even when sites are censored because they are deemed dangerous, they often reappear with a different name.

The Internet, by facilitating access to ideas worldwide, has been greatly beneficial to the public, who can now hope for more transparency and easier access to knowledge. Nevertheless, this facilitated access to ideas has also become the unfortunate tool of many terrorist groups, who use it for both recruitment, financial purposes and as a source for their propaganda.

To this day, no international standard has been established to regulate the content of the internet available to the public. Each country makes its own rules, and there is little to no regulation at an international level. The challenge now is to create an international standard in order to avoid abusive censorship and promote freedom of speech and the spread of ideas in a context of mutual respect.

– Lauren Yeh

Sources: Washington Institute, Islam Et Verite, The Independent, Huffington Post
Photo: AIM