Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Profile of a Somali suicide bomber...!!

Civilians killed by suicide bomber
Mogadishu, 24\01\09

by Muuse Yuusuf
Saturday, June 27, 2009

A young man of 17 years old blew himself up in a suicide car bomb attack at a hotel in Beletweyne, central Somalia, killing at least 20 Somali Muslims, including senior officials from the Somali government. This is not the first time young Somalis have committed acts of violence. There were up to 10 suicide car bombing incidents[i]-although some might have been carried out by foreigners; the first being in Baidao when a suicide bomber failed to assassinate Colonel Abdullahi Yusuf, former president of TFG; other acts have targeted Ethiopian, AMISOM troops, and Somali citizens such as those suicide car bomb attacks in Hargeisa and in Bosaaso.

This phenomenon of suicide car bombs by young Somalis has instilled fear, anxiety, panic and terror in the hearts of many ordinary Somalis, who are now left confused and bewildered. They thought suicide bombing was a social phenomenon in Middle East and Asia, and therefore cannot understand how this could have happened in their country. They ask themselves questions such as: what was going on in the minds of those young lads who killed themselves? What made them commit such acts of violence? Is suicide bombing part of Somali culture/tradition? Even some of the relatives of the victims might have died of heart attack because of shock and disbelief of what had happened to their relatives.

To answer some of those questions, let us try to build or sketch a profile of Somali suicide bombers in terms of age, education, childhood upbringing and their families, in order to help us understand what made them kill themselves, and also, let us explore the different types of profiles that those young lads may fit in.

Profile one: is a teenager of 10-17 year old, which means he was born and brought up during civil war years. He finished his Quranic school studies but has never received formal education. He is an orphan, or from a broken and not well educated family. It is very likely his father is illiterate and lives in the countryside. The boy managed to move to a city. While in the city, he was once a street boy and a rough sleeper. In his city life, all he knows is death, destruction, pillage, rape, and lack of education. Also, he was once a child soldier, and worked for and was used by a warlord. The boy witnessed people being killed; he himself might be a murderer.

This unhappy and unlucky young chap ended up meeting a family that was prepared to adopt to help him out. The head of the family is a cleric, a man who is quite involved with armed religious extremist groups in Somalia such as Al-shabaab. He is into political Islam and all that comes with it. Immediately, the boy was invited to join the family; and just in a short period of time he was treated and trusted as a member of the family. He was enrolled in madrasa religious school which teaches basic Islamic education mainly faith-related issues. His young mind was indoctrinated with extreme Jihadist ideology, something that even grown ups with knowledge, intellect and training find very hard to understand or comprehend it. To put it simply, the boy was groomed to be a suicide bomber. He blew him up in a town in Somalia, killing 20 odd Somali Muslims.

Profile two: is a young man of 17-25 year old. He was born in Somalia during the civil war. Similar to the first profile, he himself witnessed killings, pillage, rape and destruction, which was very painful experience, something that a child’s mind cannot comprehend, and should not have been exposed to. He did not have a happy childhood in Somalia. However, this sad young man was lucky to have been grated political asylum to join his mother in a western country. His father was killed in the civil war. With all her good intentions, his mother enrolled him in formal schools up to a university level. Unfortunately he dropped out maybe because of bullying, and was at the edge of becoming a drug addict. His mother could not help but watch her son go off the rails as an outcast.

This unlucky and dropout young man was given a helping hand by a family that has similar characteristics of the family who adopted and groomed the above-mentioned suicide bomber. He joined madras to learn basic Islamic teaching. According to his teachings he was promised of a good life in this world and after life, He felt rescued from his failures and troubles. He was immediately brainwashed with extreme ideology that made him believe Osman Bin Laden as his hero. The young man was made to hate the here and now-life, and he started to long for martyrdom and life in paradise.

After just a year of religious orientation, he was sent off to Somalia, where he executed one of the bloodiest and deadliest attacks in the country. He killed a lot of innocent Somali Muslims.

Profile 3: Is again another young teenager who shares some of the characteristics of the above lads in terms of education and upbringing. However, this teenager was born in a neighbouring country, i.e. Ethiopia or Kenya, where some Somali minority live in. His parents were Somalis but passed away when he was child. He also differs from other bombers because he suffers from some psychological and behaviour problems that he developed during childhood. This makes him vulnerable and susceptible to suggestions and manipulations. He also does not speak very good Somali and he mixes up his broken Somali with Swahili or Amharic languages.

This confused and troubled young man was again groomed for a suicide bomb mission by his “adopted” and trusted extremist family who really did not have the boy’s best interest at its heart. There is also a strong indication that the boy was financially induced to the mission. What a lethal cocktail of confusion, mental health and bribery!!

In few months time he was off to a region in Somalia where he drew a truck loaded with explosives to an Ethiopian military camp, killing few Ethiopian soldiers and infidels.

Profile 4: is a young of 20 year old. He was brought up by his family, and he lived with them. He has had a happy childhood, and was from a strong and well educated family. He grew up surrounded by his family’s love and support. He finished his Quranic and formal education up to high school. However, because of his family’s hatred of a foreign invasion and the humiliation they caused to their country and dignity, they decided to scarify their son to defend his country and religion. Without brainwash and other inducement, son accepted his parents’ decision, and he blew him up and killed invaders.

The last profile maybe a rarity.

As we can see from the above profiles except the last one, all these young men share some features and characteristics in terms of education, age group, vulnerability, unhappy childhood, and the role played by their foster families in coaching them for a suicide bomb mission. From the above description it would seem foster families did not have young men’s best interest at their hearts. To illustrate this point, please join me to read the following quote from the father of the suicide bomber in Beletweyne:

“ son was 17 years old, I christened him Mohamed, he was my eldest son...because of fear I am in hiding ... you’ve heard the disaster that my son son (must have been) out of his head and not normal, they added drugs to his food...”[ii] Deerow Sheekh Aadan, the father of suicide bombers said

It would seems from the above illustrations that these young men were brainwashed and misled by adults who used them for a particular purpose, and because of these chaps’ disastrous actions many lives of Somalis and properties had been destroyed. Therefore the question is suicide bombing a Somali tradition/culture? And if not, how can this new phenomenon be treated? What Somali families can do to protect their children?

Let me leave answers to above questions to all Somalis everywhere!!

Muuse Yuusuf

[1][1] Here is a list of some of the attacks that were carried out in Somalia:

1) June 2009 suicide bomber kills 20 in Beletweyne, including security minister, June 2009

2) 2Suicide bomber from Ealing (London), 21 year old business school drop out (October 2007) in Baidao

3) Shirwa Ahmed, suicide member from Minnesota Oct. 29, 2008, kills 20 in Hargeisa

4) Suicide bomber attacks Bosaaso Oct, 2008

5) Suicide bombers fail to assassinate Abdullahi Yusuf, Baidao 2006

6) Suicide bomber kills 7 near Somali PM's home, Mogadishu Jun 4 2007

7) Suicide bomber kills 7 guards on Monday 25th May, 2009 , mogadishu

8) National University, in Mogadishu, 22/02/09 against AMISON , 6 soldiers killed

9) Suicide bomb against Ethiopian troops in Mogadishu, 26/03/2007 by Adam Salad Adam

10) Suicide bomb against AMISOM soldiers, Mogadishu, 24/01/2009, 13 civilians and security personnel killed


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