Somalia Jihad Update. “Site of Somali Government Is Put Under Islamic Law,” by Mohamed Ibrahim for the New York Times, January 27:
MOGADISHU, Somalia “” The radical Islamist insurgents who have seized the provisional capital moved Tuesday to consolidate their control of the town and announced that they were imposing Islamic law there.
The Shabab, one of the most militant Islamist militias fighting for control of the country, captured the town, Baidoa, on Monday, hours after the withdrawal of the Ethiopian troops who had been protecting it.
Speaking to thousands of spectators at a soccer stadium in the northeastern part of town, the Shabab spokesman, Sheik Muktar Robow, urged calm and ordered an end to the looting that took place on Monday.
“I want you to be calm,” said Sheik Muktar, also known as Abu Monsur. “From today on, Islamic Shariah law will be the rule of this town. If anyone opposes the Shariah, appropriate steps will be taken.”
This is not likely to involve a PowerPoint presentation or series of informative pamphlets.
In addition to Baidoa, a market town that has served as the seat of Somalia’s transitional government, the Shabab controls most of Mogadishu, the main city and official capital, and much of the southern part of the country. The Shabab, listed by the United States as a terrorist organization, seeks to turn Somalia into an Islamic state under its particularly strict brand of Islamic law.
Sheik Muktar, whose speech on Tuesday was broadcast on the radio in Mogadishu, also ordered Baidoa residents to turn over any looted property to the Shabab or face unspecified consequences. The offices of the transitional government were looted and ransacked Monday after the Ethiopian troops left, a witness said.
The weak transitional government had been defended by Ethiopian troops since 2006 and supported by other countries in an effort to prop up an effective central government in a country that had not had one in 18 years.
But by the time the Shabab arrived in Baidoa, there was little government left. The president resigned last month. Most members of Parliament departed over the weekend for Djibouti, where they are taking part in United Nations-brokered peace talks and what now amounts to a shadow Somali government.
Once the Ethiopian military abandoned the town on Monday, the insurgents were able to take it without firing a shot….