Given the seriousness of the terrorist threat to the US, Canada and
France and their oft-stated anti-terrorist policies, the title of this
editorial may seem counterintuitive, even provocative, but before we
answer the question, let us first congratulate Somaliland police and
security forces for uncovering the terrorist plot in the city of Burco
and moving against the terrorists before they did damage to the people
and the country. We send our condolences to the family of the police
officer who died in the line of duty and wish quick recovery for those
who were injured. Our appreciation also goes to the people of Burco who
have shown exemplary citizenship by reporting to the security forces the
suspicious activities of the terrorists.
Now back to the question we posed as the title of this editorial. The
answer to this question is yes, the US, Canada and France are to blame.
We are using the word blame here not in the sense that these countries
are behind the terrorism in Somaliland or that they approve of it, but
in the sense that their actions or inaction are contributing to it.
Let us take the case of France. To the best of our knowledge, this
country does not provide Somaliland with any direct or worthwhile
assistance in the field of security. On the contrary, it is Somaliland
that contributes to the security of the French military and civilians in
Djibouti by preventing terrorists from slipping into Djibouti through
the Somaliland-Djibouti border. And what does Somaliland get in return?
Well, if reports about what transpired on President Dahir Rayale Kahin’s
last visit to France are to be believed, what Somaliland gets in return
is that the French government puts pressure on Somaliland to release
some of the terrorists in its jails in exchange for the French official
who is being held hostage by al-Shabaab in Mogadishu.
Americans are very likely to point to the French offer as just one more
proof of French cynicism and lack of principle. But before they jump on
their high horse of moral superiority, let us look at what the US is
doing. Earlier this week, two suspected terrorists (Mohamed Mahmood
Alessa and Carlos Eduardo Almonte) were arrested in JFK International
Airport in New York as they were trying to fly out of the United States
so they would engage in violence and terrorism outside the United
States. A statement by the United States Attorney's Office, District of
New Jersey, said that the “Two New Jersey men have been arrested and
charged in a federal Criminal Complaint with conspiring to kill, maim,
and kidnap persons outside the United States”. From the statement of the
US Attorney’s Office, it seems clear that not only is it a criminal
offense for US citizens to kill, maim and kidnap abroad, but even to
show an intention to engage in such horrendous activities is a crime.
Now compare this with the case of the American citizen Suleiman I. Ahmed
who not only made his intention to wage war in Somaliland very clear
before he left the United States but has finally managed to slip into
Somaliland and is now carrying out a violent campaign in eastern
Somaliland. Oddly enough, it was the Kenyan government, and not the US
government, that moved against this US citizen and arrested him for
terrorism. Just as the US gave free rein to Suleiman I. Ahmed to leave
the US, to use the US to raise funds for his violent campaign, and to
wreak havoc in Somaliland, the Canadian government did pretty much the
same with his partner in crime, the Canadian citizen Col. Ali Saberey.
Again, here too, it was not the Canadian government that moved against
its citizen, but it was the Kenyan government that moved against Col.
Ali Saberey and arrested him for terrorism.
To sum up, although neither France, nor the US nor Canada support or
condone terrorism in Somaliland, the net effect of their actions or
inactions are contributing to terrorism in Somaliland, and it is in this
sense that they are to blame.