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Young football players face prosecution by Al-Shabaab militia.

http://hiranstate.com/news.php?readmore=1831Monday 27,December 2010 (HSOL)The town of Garowe which is the capital of Puntland State of Somalia is currently hosting afootball tournament between 15 regions of the war ravanged nation of Somalia. Among the participating teams, is the team from Hiran State which is part of the vast territory in southern Somalia currently under the control of the Al-Shabaab militia.
Al- Shabaab leaders in Belet Wein which is the regional capital of Hiiraan State issued a serious warning to the young players and their coaches ordering them not to leave the town or face a prosecution should they participate in the football competition arranged by the country's Football Federation in Garowe,Puntland State.The Somali Football Federation chose Pntland as the venue for the soccer tournament because of it'srelative stability compared to the country's capital, Mogdishu, and other cities in south.

The boy's defiantce of the Al- Shabaab order

Despite the warning by the Al-Shabaab militia, the Hiiraan football team chose to travel to Puntland in order to take part in the compation there. in fact, the young boys had to sneak out of town without the knowledge amd the oermission of the Al-Shabaab. The trainers say they took thay decision after aseriou deliberation with the boys.According to the coaches, the team could choose to adide the orders of Al Shabaab for it's ownsafety and remain absent from the football competition, but they say doing so would have disapponted thousands of their supporters in the state which they represent.Absent from the games would have also been a great disappointment for young football players them selves as they have been looking forward to this event for quite some time.


The Al- Shabaab hate for the football


Al Shabaab is known to have out carried out terror attacks inside and outside Somalia. The feared militia has a history of being at odd with the football game which proocupies many of the youth of Somalia who are unfortunately deprived of basic need's of life, like education and employment, due to protracted civil war in their country.
Al shabaab's hostility towards football emanates from the fact that football deprives this notoriuos organization the supply of young militia men. The organization seeks to draw the attention of the young men to itself and induce them to join its rinks. One of the tricks applied by it is to prohibit and deprive the youth of all posible sources of entertainment including football, making it's violent culture of gun-tooting the only option and the way of life available to the young men.
It is not surprising the organization's choice of its first terror attack outside Somalia in a football arena in Kampala in Uganda. the terrorist organization carried out twin suiside-blasts in a bar in Kampala where many football enthusiastic young poeple were watching on a big TV-screen the final match of FIFA world cup 2010 in Syoth Africa.

While Al Shabaab claimed the responsibility of carrying out the terror attack in Kampala in order to revenge on Ugandan govenment for sending its forces to Mogdishu in Somalia to support the internationally recognized weak and fragile central government there.For the Al- Shabaab, the choice of this soft target was an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone, meaning revenging on both the Ugandan government and the football game.

Focus on the game despite the fear.

One can imagine the toil and the presure on their concentration on the matches as a result of the risk of prosecution hanging over thier heads and as well as not knowing where to go after the matches are wrapped up in few days, the team has qualified itself to the quart-final, becoming the second team to qualify from Group A after the Puntland team of Nugaal which hosts the tournament. In the past things were the opposite, before the civil war Hiiraan Region was the dominant in the game in Central Somalia and all the other teams in its group would have to contend for grabbing the second position.

So far, the weak performance in ongoing compatition by the teams from the unstable southern regions testifies how a war vavages a society and veverses its progress, whereas the advancement made by the Puntland teams signifies the dividend of peace and stability.

The coaches and players are gradeful to the people of Puntland for their hospitality and for also affording them the opportunity of playing football in peacful and harmonic atmosphere.The boys hope to win the tournament and bring the cup home, but question is: can the return to their home region as long as the threat to their lives labeled against them by Al -Shabaab remains in force?

Al- shabaab repeats its prosecution threat

Meanwhile, the local Al-Shabaab militia leaders who are furious of the playersí defiance of the order which prohibited the teamís participation in the games have repeated and reinforced the threat of prosecuting the players once they return to the region. So far, such a threat still remains in place and there has been no utterance from the senior leaders in the organization revoking that cruel decision. Itís not known why the Al-Shabaab has singled out the Hiiraan Team, while some of the other teams participating in the same tournament are from regions under the control of the militia. Al-Shabaab is believed to have almost no local support in Hiiraan region and has to heavily rely on armed militiamen from the Bay region where one of its senior leaders, Mukhtar Robow, known as Abu Mansur comes from. The organization carried out its first high profile assassination of government member in the same region when it killed in a suicide car-bomb the countryís former security minister Omar Hashi Aden who hailed from the Hiiraan Region whose capital city Belet Wein is just 30KM from the Somaliaís border with Ethiopia. The same attack left behind dozens of others dead and many more injured. The minister was in his home region in order to prepare armed resistance against the Al-Shabaab and evict it from its southern strongholds. Meanwhile the African Union forces AMISOM in Somalia boosts the number of its troops and is planning to expand its operations outside Mogadishu. The region is one of the few places outside Mogadishu where the Al-Shabaab militia faces continuous armed resistance from the local population and is aware of its vulnerability in the same region.

Cry for help

The Football Federation of the impoverished and the war-torn nation is aware of the plight of Hiiraan Team and the risk to their lives by eventual Al-Shabaab prosecution, but it has almost nothing to offer to the young players who have no place to return once the football competition is over. No nation in the world, whether giant or small, ignores today a threat directed to it or to its citizens by Al-Shabaab as this Al-Qaida affiliated organization which some call the African Taliban, is known for making its threats real. It will totally be a fatal mistake to ignore the serious danger faced by these young soccer players. Thus, the foreign embassies and the NGOs accredited to Somalia as well as the international community as a whole have all a moral duty to come to the rescue of the boys who face prosecution by Al-Shabaab even though all they have done is just to love the football game. The players cannot go back to their home where they risk unfair and unjust prosecution. All they need at the moment is a temporary place to stay until their faith is clear and a final solution is found, so they can continue to train in peace and prepare for next tournament.

report is prepared by
Hiiraan Diaspora in North America
E-mail: HiiraanDiaspora@gmail.com

Hiiraan State News Agency
webmaster@hiranstate.com
admin@hiranstate.net

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