MOGADISHU, 23 September 2009 (Somalilandpress) – In an interview with Australian radio a religious scholar says young Somali-Australians who have gone to Somalia to fight with the terrorist group Al-Shabab have returned and are living in Australia. The terrorism raids in Melbourne last month focused attention on the issue of radicalization in the Somali community.
Islamic scholar Dr Hersi Hilole says Somali community leaders are worried about the situation and their children. National security correspondent Matt Brown reports.
[Brown] When the federal government added the Somali Islamist group Al-Shabab to its list of banned terrorist organizations last month, it cited a string of bombings in East Africa and alleged links to Al-Qa’idah. Usamah Bin-Ladin has even called on Muslims from around the world to join Al-Shabab’s fight against Somalia’s Western-backed government.
[Hilole] Al-Shabab is well known terrorist organization. Anyone who joins them can’t get out from them and whoever tries to get out from them will be killed.
[Brown] Somali-born Islamic scholar Hersi Hilole has been monitoring perceptions of Al-Shabab in the Australian Somali community. He says he has spoken to the parents of young men who have gone to fight in Somalia and who have come home to live in Australia.
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[Hilole] Some of the parents told me that some young people came back from Somalia.
[Brown] Dr Hilole says these parents don’t know what to do about their ongoing concerns about their own offspring.
[Hilole] Some of them are worried because they think if the government knows this they will be persecuted, maybe. And some others think well they may also still be associated with these extremist groups.
[Brown] So even their parents aren’t sure?
[Hilole] Yes, even their parents aren’t sure the future of these young people.
[Brown] Hersi Hilole first raised the alarm about the radicalization of young Somali Australians back in 2007 when he was head of the Somali Community Council of Australia.
[Hilole] Because these young people dropped from the school, they are not working, so these religious people or religious teachers encourage them to go to war, rather than spending their time here.
[Brown] There are even suspicions these preachers are actually facilitators who smooth the path to jihad.
[Hilole] Sometimes they encourage them and provide them money and some other facilities that helps them to travel from here and there and so on.
[Brown] The claims against the alleged Melbourne terror cell are yet to be tested in court, but the episode has focused attention on broader concern in the Somali community that a small number of young men, brought up in families fractured by conflict, have lost their way.
[Hilole] They are worried about their sons because these young people are free now. Parents, especially mothers, do not have any control on them. Australian law provides freedom [for] these young people.
[Brown] Federal Police agents have had background contacts with the community and ASIO [Australian Security Intelligence Organization] has a close eye on several mosques. But the government didn’t comment about concerns that young men who may still be allied to Al-Shabab have returned from Somalia to Australia.
By Abdinasir Mohamed