Somali "Taliban" behind stoning of 13-year-old girl gets funding from Britain

Somalis living in Britain are channeling cash to al Qaeda-linked Islamist groups committing human rights atrocities in their war-torn homeland, a community leader has claimed.

Sums thought to be totalling tens of thousands of pounds a week are being sent to the Shabaab militia, a fundamentalist Islamic group blamed for sentencing a 13-year-old girl to be stoned to death in the southern city of Kismayo.

The execution, details of which were revealed last week by Amnesty International, was imposed on the girl, Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow, after she complained to a Shabaab-run Sharia court that she had been gang-raped.

Instead of sentencing her alleged attackers, the court found her guilty of adultery and sent her a local stadium, where she was buried up to her neck in sand and then stoned in front of a 1,000 strong crowd.

The brutal punishment was part of the Taliban-style Islamic regime imposed on the city by the Shabaab, who are designed as a terrorist group by the United States and whose leadership was the target of American missile strikes earlier this year,

A London-based Somali community leader has claimed that much of their funding is coming from the Somali diaspora in Britain, many of whom support the groups' fierce guerrilla war against Somalia's long-time enemy Ethiopia, which invaded in January 2007.

"People are sending money over to back the Shabaab because they want to see the Ethiopians kicked out, even if they don't have much sympathy with the Islamist agenda," said Mohamed Abdullahi, director of the UK Somali Community Initiative.

"But over here in Britain, they are not seeing the violence that they are fuelling, or realising that al-Shabaab has some very hardline policies. Many people here were shocked to hear about the stoning incident, and said that it was not Islamic. In that case, they should think twice about sending money."

Ethiopia sent troops into Somalia as part of a US and British-backed bid to topple the Shabaab's more moderate allies, the Islamic Courts Union, and replace them with internationally-backed transitional federal government. Although the courts union had managed to impose order on the lawless nation, which has been without a functioning government since 1994, it was suspected by Washington of harbouring foreign al-Qaeda fighters. Since the invasion, however, the country has reverted into all-out anarchy and clan warfare, with the increasingly brutal anti-Ethiopian insurgency costing thousand of lives and sparking a refugee crisis that has spilled into neighbouring Kenya.

"Many Somalis are funding the Shabaab now because they remember the peace that the Islamic Courts Union brought when they were in power," added Mr Abdullahi. "Even if it meant a hardline Islam, they were prepared to put up with it because it was better than the complete chaos before,"

Mr Abdullahi said that most of the money being channeled to the Shabaab came via the traditional hawala money transfer system, an informal wire service arrangement which is hard for the authorities to monitor. Post-September 11, hawala agents in Britain agreed to abide by money laundering rules, but in practice there is little real restriction on which inviduals they send money to in Somalia.

SOURCE

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