In a certain sense, Somalia is where it all started: when Osama bin Laden saw Bill Clinton cut and run after the Black Hawk incident, he concluded that America was a paper tiger, and the time was right to step up jihad efforts. “Somali Islamists declare jihad on warlords,” from AFP, with thanks to all who sent this in:
Tension soared in the capital of lawless Somalia on Friday as Mogadishu’s powerful Islamic courts declared jihad, or holy war, on a militia alliance widely believed to be backed by the United States.
With many city residents already convinced new hostilities are imminent between the rival factions, Muslim clerics urged the destruction of the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism (ARPCT).
At a demonstration attended by hundreds in southern Mogadishu after Friday prayers, Sheikh Nur Ollow, an imam and senior Islamic court figure, told the crowd it was time to fight the warlords whose militias make up the alliance.
“It is time to fight the unholy elements that are sabotaging peace efforts and serving the interests of non-Somalis who could not care less about our well-being, culture and religion,” he said.
“It is time to help those who want peace and harmony among Somalis and the teachings of the commands of Allah and the words of the Prophet,” Ollow said. “We will not be governed by a few warlords financed by the enemy of Islam.”
A second cleric affiliated with the courts, Sheikh Mohamed Ibrahim Sulley, echoed those comments and went further, informing the crowd that battling the warlords was a religious obligation.
“As it says in the Qur’an, the fight against those who are promoting hostility and fighting against Islam is a holy war,” he said. “Any war against the warlords is a holy war and a sacrifice in the name of Allah.
“Let us eliminate these warlords and set up a peaceful administration supported by the vast majority of people in Mogadishu,” Sulley said, prompting the crowd to chant angry slogans denouncing the warlords.
“Down with the agents of America and down with agents promoting Satanic teaching,” they yelled, according to an Agence France-Presse correspondent on the scene.
The bellicose comments were clearly directed at the ARPCT, which was founded in February by Mogadishu warlords opposed to the growing influence of the courts that they accuse of hosting Islamic extremists and training terrorists.
An official in the alliance, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the crowd that cheered the imams’ call for holy war was “misguided” and unaware of his group’s policies, which he claimed had huge backing.
“They are misguided and misinformed,” the official said. “The alliance is supported by most people in Mogadishu.”
Ah. More misunderstanders of Islam. Of course. Yet it is they who are invoking the Qur’an and placing the conflict in starkly religious terms.