|Join Our Mailing List|
Residents of Bardere (Baardheere), in Somalia's Gedo region and one of the few towns that are fully under the control of the al-Shabaab insurgent group, said tensions are high in the town after the militia ordered (by way of loud speakers) that any male, including youths and elders who are not Mujahidins fighters, must have their photo taken.
The exercise which started last Friday is compulsory and failure to adhere to this rule would result in severe punishment. In addition to this the militia also ordered those whose photos have been taken to remain in the city and prohibited them from leaving. Residents said they now more than ever concerned on the next possible rule the militia is going to impose on them.
A young entrepreneur who only identified himself as Khalif shared his concern with Somalia Report.
“We are now faced by the worst problems of our lifetime. At first most traders in Bardere were only restricted to trade in few product due to the poor business climate that prevailed in areas under their control," said Mr. Khalif. "But this one is worst of all times. For example, I personally used take goods out of Bardere town to other smaller town such as Eel Cade, but now how am I supposed to leave the town now that my photo is with them? My whole family depends upon me for our daily bread. My mother used to be self reliant before the khat business was prohibited; she was a khat vender," he added.
Residents wondered what prompted the group to take their photos and believe the answer to the question is the fact that the militia is under enormous pressure by the allied forces of Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya. Also the factor of mistrust came after the recent announcement by the USA offering millions on the top seven al-Shabaab leaders. The militia, residents told Somalia Report, has lost faith in people and as a control measure they have to monitor peoples' movement in and out of the towns that are under their control. They can also identify any non member or foreign intruder.
“I think the Mujahidins are under pressure now that their top leaders are being hunted down by the both the Transitional Federal Government and America. This makes them lose their trust in us. So the most appropriate thing for them to do is to keep us inside the town of Bardere so we cannot interact with rest of the Somalis outside there," said Mr. Khalif. "This is one of the worst decisions the have ever made, which will only earn hatred from the people. It was even more difficult to bear with their green constitution that can be modified according to their own interest," added the resident.
Somalia Report also spoke with a woman by the name of Habsa*, who is known in Bardere for her unconditional support towards the al-Shabaab militia.
“The Mujahidins are doing a good job and God will give them a hand in their daily undertakings. Taking peoples' photos is the only effective way of dealing with possible traitors. It is becoming difficult to know who is on your side and who is not now that the devil has ordered the top Mujahidins sheikhs to be captured in exchange for millions," she explained.
It is now evident that the militia is not only losing ground but also followers. The militia is causing more problems for the population who are not providing them with anything of value. Sheikh Abaas Abdullahi Abdirahman, an al-Shabaab official who is coordinator in the Gedo region and currently based in Bardere, was not available for comment.
An MP3 that was released from Marka, in Lower Shabelle region, last Friday with commentaries from the top al-Shabaab officials including Sheikh Hassan Takar, Sheikh Abu Halid and Sheikh Mohamed Omar Ahmed. They each raised the same issue on how the Mujahidins should cooperate and beat the allied forces.
Sheikh Takar who opened the speech criticized those who are fighting against the Mujadins as cowards.
“I think you have all heard the alarming news from the top house of the Devil saying that they will reward anyone who informs them of the whereabouts of our leaders. What has happened to the superpower of the Devil? Why don’t they come straight here and get what they are looking for? It is very unfortunate that they are promising our people fake dollars. To prove this, have they ever given the money they promised the traitor who spied on Sadaam Hussein? The answer is a big no,” said the sheikh.
He also said the Mujahidins should not to be shaken by anything and instead should stand firm ready to conquer the whole of East Africa. Before the meeting was concluded, the speaker asked members who have did not have any ammunition in their home to submit their names and mobile numbers so the Mujahidins could provide it the following morning on Saturday.
*Her name has been changed for security reasons.