Saturday, November 04, 2006

BBC Somalia Update

Earlier today I blogged that there had been accusations of pro-Islamist bias made against the BBC’s Somali service. Ed at Biased BBC linked here, adding this observation:
I have been deeply suspicious of the BBC's Somalia output for a while now: lots of spin about how the Islamic Courts were bringing the smack of firm Government.
Ed, you don’t know how right you are!

Many thanks to Max in the comments for finding this 2001 letter from the Somali Historical Society of North America (SHSNA) to the BBC:
… the hardworking men and women of the BBC Somali Section can no longer do a decent job. Mr. Yusuf-Garaad Omar, the man in-charge who originally came in under dubious terms through the influence and under the behest of the late murderous General Aideed of Mogadishu, is himself trying to achieve a dubious task. A task that the late General Aideed failed to achieve, but Mr. Yusuf-Garaad Omar continues to wage. A battle he also continues to wage on HornAfrik Radio in Mogadishu. This HornAfrik Radio project investment was originally sponsored by the European Union and the BBC World Service in cooperation with the BBC Somali Section, but subsequently, it sadly has become a 50% owned investment by Mr. Yusuf-Garaad Omar. By how we don't know, but would the BBC World Service leadership come clean? The ownership of this HornAfrik Radio project is a clear cut case of CONFLICT OF INTEREST that neither the BBC World Service nor the BBC Somali Section has confronted. This HornAfrik Radio project has consumed almost all EU $1,500,000 donated investment funds originally intended for all regions of Somalia. Not a bad rate of return on investment! And Mr. Omar continues his battle on the BBC airwaves and his cohorts on HornAfrik Radio to support certain political faction and alienate others. This is a continuing losing battle engaged by Mr. Omar that a majority of Somalis recognized on day one. We hope the BBC Somali Section Leadership quickly recognizes the conflicts and problems created by Mr. Omar's efforts with HornAfrik Radio. We would also advise the BBC World Service to distribute future EU donated development funds and its own aid wisely and equitably across all Somali regions.

Today, the BBC Somali Section airwaves in combination with HornAfrik Radio are used to pit one innocent Somali group against another. It has prolonged the Somali civil war. We are convinced that the grant from Her Majesty's Foreign Office was not intended to be used to harm innocent Somalis and prolong third world civil wars. Likewise, we doubt that the Broadcast Standards Commission would, if informed, permit Mr. Omar to continue his efforts to implement his decaying clannish agenda.
So, a warning about the head of the BBC's Somali section from five years ago, with EU money involved for extra spice. Did the BBC listen? Here's a report from June 6 this year:
The Islamist militia that now controls Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, has emerged out of a judicial system funded by the powerful business community to try and bring some law and order to a country without a government.

But over the past two years, the Union of Islamic Courts has emerged into Somalia's strongest fighting force - forcing the warlords who have controlled the capital for the past 15 years into retreat.

BBC Somali Service editor Yusuf Garaad Omar says they are the most popular political force in the country

There are 11 autonomous courts in Mogadishu, some of which have periodically tried to clamp down on robbery, drugs and what they say are pornographic films being shown in local video houses.

At first they concentrated on petty crime but by the mid 1990s they had progressed to dealing with major crimes in north Mogadishu.

Thieves had their limbs amputated and murderers were executed.

Mr Garaad says that despite protests from human rights bodies, north Mogadishu residents were pleased to enjoy law and order - in stark contrast to south Mogadishu, where crime was rampant.
Sharia is great! And just to hammer the point home, here's Garaad writing about the wonders of Islamist Somalia for the BBC earlier this week (and he's still the BBC Somali Service editor):
Most are astounded by the changes - restaurants are opening, business is booming - and people are proud to show off to visitors their new-found security...

Dissenters argue that this authoritarian attitude is eating away at Somali culture and traditions, from dulling their dress code to muting their music.

But for most this is an argument for another day.

For now, Somalis are basking in the novelty of moving about freely, the novelty of seeing a woman behind the wheel, the novelty of militiamen greeting them politely at checkpoints, the novelty of leaving their guns at home.
Not to mention the candyfloss clouds and gentle streams of sweet nectar. With this guy in charge at the BBC office, little wonder that the hospital massacre perpetrated by followers of the Islamic Courts went unreported.

How much influence has the BBC's Yusuf Garaad Omar had in the promotion of the Islamist cause throughout the Horn of Africa?

Serious questions need answering.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I’m curious if this same man is also responsible for the BBC totally ignoring the story of the murder of the Somalian Farah Noor in Dublin, by the so called Scissor Sisters.

It struck me as strange that this cannot be found anywhere on the BBC News web site and yet this has appeared in the Independent and elsewhere:

Murder, mutilation and dismemberment: Ireland transfixed by 'Scissor Sisters' case

3:33 pm  
Blogger ed thomas said...

It's a very good point (that last one especially), which is difficult to ascertain!

I've done a lot of googling and slightly detrimental to the argument is he fact that Aideed (who helped install Yusuf Garaad Omar) was not renowned for Islamism- I think he fought one strand of them. His son, Hussein, is one of the official Gvt's senior ministers (and a former US soldier, btw)- in opposition, one might think in essence, to the Islamic Courts. Tres complicated, and we have to be wary of the role of clanship in this business.

However, one interesting fact: the spiritual leader of the currect IC movement, one sheik Daweys, was a leading officer of Gen Aideed until he betrayed him and switched to the Islamists.

Evidently this Yusuf Garaad Omar is a local bigwig, but whether he's in league with the Islamic Courts like his old comrade Daweys, or just sucking up to the new powers in town is open to question I think.

Either way I think the BBC's behaviour is questionable, and the fishiness deserves to be followed up.

I will come back to it ( I'm tired now!). On the face of it (and maybe I should just take it that way) the article is dynamite, but it's difficult to secure it with other data. Tough work, sifting the MSM silt for some little specks of gold.

Great info though. Great work by you and Max.

9:44 pm  
Blogger ed thomas said...

Actually I think it's Aweys, not Daweys. You've probably heard of him. The fact that he broke away from Aideed and probably knows Garaad Omar well is what's interesting.

Wiki here:

9:58 pm  
Blogger John Sobieski said...

al BBC, al Jazeera, one's in English, the other Arabic. Both are supported by the government, which of course means you the taxpapyer.

4:42 am  
Blogger DFH said...

Ed: "Evidently this Yusuf Garaad Omar is a local bigwig, but whether he's in league with the Islamic Courts like his old comrade Daweys, or just sucking up to the new powers in town is open to question I think.

Either way I think the BBC's behaviour is questionable, and the fishiness deserves to be followed up."


9:32 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing.
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7:29 pm  

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