By William Stark
5/9/2013 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – With the establishment of a new government in Somalia’s capital of Mogadishu, many Somali refugees are risking returns to Somalia with the belief that the failed state may now be safer. Unfortunately for Somali Christians, the country remains one of the most dangerous places in the world to be called a Christian. Somali Christians know that having their religious identities discovered by al-Shabaab, an Islamic terrorist network in Somalia, is tantamount to a death sentence, fact Somali Christians were reminded of this spring when two Christians were captured, tortured and killed by al-Shabaab.
Captured and Tortured in Somalia
On March 23, Hassan Gulled was seized by four al-Shabaab militants who had been monitoring him for several weeks. “Four masked, armed militia from al-Shabaab took Gulled into a Land Cruiser and then drove away as family watched helplessly,” a source told Morning Star News.
Born in Somalia, Gulled fled the failed state in 2007 to Kenya were he became a Christian in 2010. Al-Shabaab, known to be active in Somali communities in Kenya, found out about Gulled’s conversion and began monitoring his activities. When Gulled left Kenya to visit family on February 27, militants in Kenya informed their radical affiliates in Somalia about Gulled and his new religion, making him a prime target for the extremist group’s brutality. According to Morning Star News’ sources, Gulled was monitored for three weeks before he was captured.
Gulled has been missing since his capture, but is believed to be imprisoned at an al-Shabaab base in Bulo Marer where he is being tortured for this faith. “Al-Shabaab [has] been torturing him to see whether he [will] deny his Christian faith,” a source told Morning Star News. “No information has surfaced concerning Gulled [recently]. There is a possibility that he could have been killed.”
“Gulled used to share Jesus to Muslims in Dadaab refugee camp,” the leader of Gulled’s fellowship in Kenya said in an interview with ICC’s representative in the Horn of Africa. “On several occasions he received threatening messages telling him to stop trying to convert Muslims to Christ. If not, Gulled would live to regret it.”
Gulled’s fellowship in Dadaab is deeply saddened by his disappearance. “We are very sure they will kill him,” Gulled’s pastor said.
Christian Widow Murdered
As the Christian community in Somalia was still recovering from the terrible news regarding Gulled, they were struck by another blow from al-Shabaab. Fartun Omar, a 42-year-old Christian widow, had been caught by al-Shabaab militants and killed, leaving her five children orphans.
In December of 2012, Fartun was widowed when her husband was murdered by al-Shabaab militants for being a Christian. According to Radio Shebelle, a local radio station, the militants had been searching for Fartun ever since they had executed her husband because they discovered she was a Christian as well.
Because al-Shabaab was closing in on Fartun, she decided to flee on April 10 by bus to seek refuge with relatives elsewhere in Somalia, locals told Morning Star News. Accompanied with her five children and a neighbor, Fartun left home hoping she would be able to find a place where she and her family could live in peace. Unfortunately, she never made it to her relatives’ home.
As her bus approached Buulobarde, a town controlled by al-Shabaab, militants manning a roadblock ordered all of the passengers off the bus. Once all the passengers were off the bus, the militants proceeded to question each of them one by one.
“She was not cleared by al-Shabaab,” explained the neighbor who accompanied her to BosNewsLife. “I only heard one of them saying, ‘This is the woman whose husband was killed last year. Do not let her [through].’”
“On April 13, I received news that a woman in Buulobarde had been killed by al-Shabaab,” the neighbor continued. “Soon I found out that it was Fartun Omar.” Fartun’s children remain in the care of the neighbor who accompanied her the day she was murdered. Both Fartun and Gulled’s families have been shattered by the cruelty imposed on them by the al-Shabaab terrorist group.
Even though the new Somali government has won key victories over al-Shabaab and has finally established itself in Somalia’s capital, the country remains one of the most dangerous places to be called a Christian. Christians living in Somalia remain some of the most secretive fellowships on earth with good reason, as demonstrated by the deadly events of this spring. Please remember these persecuted Christians and their suffering in your prayers.