Somali Islamists carry out public execution
Sahal Abdulle | Mogadishu, Somalia
An Islamist militia firing squad shot a young man convicted of murder on Friday in the first public execution the movement has carried out in Mogadishu since taking the Somali capital in June.
Hundreds of Somalis watched as the Islamists shaved Abduqadir Diriye — who killed his victim during the theft of a mobile phone — and made him say prayers, a Reuters witness saw.
They then shot him as he knelt blindfolded.
The Islamists, who took control of Mogadishu from United States-backed warlords, have brought some semblance of order to the lawless capital by providing justice under sharia law, which states that if someone murders, they should also die.
But critics say they plan a Taliban-style rule.
“I am happy that the Islamic Courts are carrying out the execution of the killers of my brother,” Saida Barre, the sister of the murdered man, said at the scene.
“I hope they will do the same in future.”
Omar Iman, a senior Islamist official, told the crowd gathered at a public square that the execution was a deterrent.
“We have started fulfilling the sharia [law]. Let this be a warning to future criminals,” he said.
The execution followed the high-profile murder on Sunday of an Italian nun
working at a children’s hospital in northern Mogadishu. Islamist officials have vowed to bring those responsible for her death to justice.
Diriye was one of two men found guilty of the murder over a mobile phone by an Islamic court. Officials said the other would be executed at an unspecified later date.
As militiamen struggled to control the crowd, the eight executioners, with their faces covered, stepped out to form a firing squad, according to witnesses.
“I felt so scared. To see a person being killed will scare anyone,” said Fadumo Ali, a 20-year old neighbour of Diriye.
The Islamists’ rise has dented the aspirations of a Western-backed interim government — based in the provincial town of Baidoa — to re-impose central rule for the first time since the 1991 ousting of a military dictator.
Amid accusations they harbour al Qaeda-linked militants, the Islamists’ rise has also worried Washington and others in the West. They deny planning to copy Afghanistan’s Taliban model, saying they simply want to promote the norms and cultures of Islam in their almost entirely Muslim nation.
In May, a local sharia court ordered a 16-year-old boy to stab to death the killer of his father. But Friday’s execution was the first formally organised by the Islamists since they took Mogadishu on June 5 and re-organised their movement.
The Islamists also planned demonstrations after prayers on Friday to mark world peace day and rally support against the proposed deployment of foreign peacekeepers in Somalia.
The interim government and the African Union want peacekeepers to be sent to the Horn of Africa country, but the Islamists oppose that and al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has said such a move would justify jihad.
On Thursday, hundreds of government supporters marched in the interim administration’s base of Baidoa, to call for foreign peacekeepers, citing a suicide bomber’s assassination attempt on President Abdullahi Yusuf this week. — Reuters