Nairobi, Kenya, October 9, 2010 –
militants are paying foreign fighters a few dollars to boost them in
fighting the fragile Somali government and the peacekeeping troops in
About 7,500 Ugandan and Burundi soldiers make up the African Union
peacekeeping force supporting the Somali transitional government.
Comprising mostly young men, the recruits leave the comfort in Canada,
US and Sweden to join the militia linked to Al-Qaeda sustaining the
violence in the Horn of Africa country. But many of them have been
killed in the recent fighting.
“We have been told we could be given $250 (sh565,000) per month as
foreign recruits, which is a lot of money in Somalia,” Abikar Mohammed
told Fatuma Noor, a reporter of The Star, a Kenyan newspaper.
“We all make more than that back home (US). Even those of us who don’t
have jobs get that as pocket money, so it’s not about the money. It’s
about what we believe in.”
Mohammed, from US, was among the nine recruits interviewed by Noor in
Nairobi last month. It seems as the case for increasing the strength of
the AU force in Somalia to stop the reign of terror authored by the
Al-Shabaab militants is under consideration, foreign fighters like him
are flying in to bolster the insurgents’ campaign.
Ironically, some of the foreign recruits were evacuated from the
war-torn country to the West for safety years ago, but are returning to
support the violence that uprooted them.
Nairobi, Kenya was their first stopover before flying to Hargesia from
where they travelled to Mogadishu.
Mohammed, now 23, left Mogadishu when he was seven years old.
In Nairobi, he and other recruits lived with relatives in Eastleigh, a
suburb dominated by Somali, before they headed to Mogadishu.
In Hargeysa, an Al-Shabaab contact gave them tips of encouragement as
they waited to be transported to Mogadishu, the world’s most dangerous
“Mujahideen should not care much about this life, but the life after,”
the Al-Shabaab agent told them.
At least two dozen Americans have gone to Somalia to fight in its civil
war in recent years, FBI director Robert Muller said last week.
Foreign fighters from Afghanistan and Iraq have also joined the Somali
militants and young men from the East African region are enlisted. Two
Ugandan suspects of the July 11, bomb attacks in Kampala are said to
have been trained by Al-Shabaab and also fought in Somalia.
One of them, Issa Luyima, 33, confessed at a press conference in August
that he was a foot solider of the militants and had been to the war-torn
The other, Mohammed Mugisha said: “I joined Al-Shabaab in 2008 while
they were coordinating with Al-Qaeda. I was sent here to rent a house
in which the bomb attacks were to be planned. I got a house in Nakulabye
(a Kampala suburb).
Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the July 11 bombing in which 81
people were killed. The insurgent said the attack was retaliation to
Uganda’s deployment of troops in Mogadishu.