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Cablegate: Somalia - Continued Expressions of Outrage Over December 3

VZCZCXRO9287
RR RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHNR #2505/01 3511519
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 171519Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0155
INFO SOMALIA COLLECTIVE
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/CDR USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RHMFIUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEILB/NCTC WASHINGTON DC
RUEPADJ/CJTF-HOA J2X CAMP LEMONIER DJ

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 NAIROBI 002505

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS
STATE FOR AF/E, AF/RSA AND A/S CARSON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV SO PTER
SUBJECT: SOMALIA - CONTINUED EXPRESSIONS OF OUTRAGE OVER DECEMBER 3
BOMBING

REF: NAIROBI 2444

Summary

-------

1. (SBU) The December 3 suicide bombing that killed government
ministers, medical students, and teachers sparked protests across
Somalia's regions and around the globe. Somalis and their diaspora
brethren have publicly condemned the attack at conferences, in
marches, and on live national and international media. While
al-Shabaab has denied involvement, it is generally believed to have
been behind the attack, and it has borne the brunt of the public
criticism. At least one Shabaab commander publicly regretted the
death of students, possibly reflecting the sentiment of Shabaab's
rank and file. Whether the TFG can capitalize on the public's
outrage remains to be seen. End Summary.

cid:image006.png@01CA7F45.581C96A0

Figure 1: A TFG Minister, a victim of the December 3 bombing, is
laid to rest in Mogadishu.

Somalis React Angrily

---------------------

2. (U) On December 3, a suicide bomber detonated himself in a
medical school graduation ceremony in Mogadishu. The blast killed
22 people, including three TFG ministers, students, teachers and
journalists (reftel). Scores were wounded. The world has reacted
to the blast with outrage. Islamist group al-Shabaab is widely
credited with the attack.

3. (U) Our contacts say al-Shabaab may have underestimated the
bombing's carnage and the public's indignation at the murders of
particularly apolitical students and doctors. A Shabaab spokesman
has subsequently denied responsibility for the attack, though
observers say it clearly bears their hallmarks. At least one
self-proclaimed senior Shabaab commander, Sheikh Abdifatah, likely
sensing the public backlash, qualified the attack in the media,
saying "We did not target the students - our target was the TFG."

4. (U) Just hours after the blast, the Somali government and
international community reacted with outrage. Ordinary Somalis at
home and abroad,stunned and in mourning, began venting their anger
several days later. On December 7 and 8, Mogadishu residents and
those in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps outside Mogadishu
staged street protests against al- Shabaab, burning the Islamic
group's black flags and decrying the attack. According to Salat Ali
Jelle, a TFG MP, the protests in the IDP camps, which are
al-Shabaab strongholds, were a particularly bold public show of
defiance.

cid:image008.png@01CA7F45.581C96A0

Figure 2: Somalis burn al-Shabaab's black flags to protest the
December 3 suicide bombing.

5. (U) Abdi Mahad, a civil society activist who organized the
Mogadishu demonstration on December 7 was quoted in media vowing to
organize more demonstrations against al-Shabaab. Mahad termed the
December 3 attack a "wake up call for all." He said al-Shabaab's
oft-repeated claim to be fighting foreigners is bankrupt. "They are
killing our best and brightest. They are the enemy, " he said.

cid:image009.png@01CA7F45.581C96A0

NAIROBI 00002505 002 OF 003


Figure 3: Mogadishu residents march in protest over the December 3
suicide attack.

6. (U) Citizens of Ahlu Sunna Wal Jamaa-controled towns in the
Galgaduud region also protested. On December 4, hundreds of
demonstrators marched in Dhusamareb and Guriel to protest Shabaab's
violence and express solidarity with those affected by the blast.

Diaspora and Civil

Society Expresses Shock

-----------------------

7. (U) Somalis in the Diaspora also expressed shock over the
suicide attack. In Washington D.C., Minneapolis, Denmark,
Switzerland and Kenya, Somalis expressed sympathy for the victims
and condemned al-Shabaab, according to media reports. Somali
students in Minneapolis organized a well attended demonstration.
Hundreds braved the freezing cold to march and hear speakers,
including Somali clerics, condemn the attack offer prayers for the
victims.

8. (U) On December 13 Somalis in Washington, D.C. also protested
the bombing. They noted the attack claimed the lives of current and
future doctors, further devastating Mogadishu's already
overburdened medical community. Silver Spring, Maryland mosque Imam
Mohamed Abdulle declared the December 3 incident a national
disaster. He said suicide killings have no basis in Somali or
Islamic culture. Successive speakers eulogized TFG Minister of
Higher Education Ibrahim Adow, a U.S. citizen and former professor
at Washington's American University, who was killed in the blast.

9. (U) Participants of a Somali civil society conference held in
Mombasa, Kenya on December 10 bemoaned the tragic loss of lives in
the suicide attack. They released a communiquC) at the end of the
conference that read in part "...the participants condemn the
December 3 tragic incident in which high-profile Somalis, including
government ministers, university professors, journalists,
graduating students and their parents were massacred." Conference
participants termed such attacks as alien to Somali culture and
called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.

Condemnation in the Media

-------------------------

10. (U) Callers into Somali-language radio programs expressed
outrage at the attacks. One international radio program hosted
Prime MinisterOmar Sharmarke, Kenyan Deputy Speaker of Parliament
Farah Maalim and Prof. Abdi Ismail Samatar of the University of
Minnesota. PM Sharmarke describedthe deaths of the ministers,
doctors, and students as a loss to the entire Somali nation. Maalim
described the suicide incident as an "unprecedented act of horror."
Professor Samatar described the attack as shocking and unexpected,
and praised the courage of Mogadishu's students who routinely brave
violence to further their education. He challenged the TFG to draw
up a comprehensive security plan to address violence in the
country.

11. (U) Other callers to the radio program included Somali
medical doctors and Somali student leaders. Mohamed Abdirahman, a

NAIROBI 00002505 003 OF 003


doctor at Mogadishu's Madina Hospital, expressed sadness at the
loss of the three ministers, whom he knew and respected. He
lamented that their dedication and selfless service to the
community was rewarded with a suicide attack. Elders from the
Hawiye, Biyamal and Rahanweyne clans also called to publicly
condemned the bombing.

Comment

-------

12. (SBU) Comment: Somalis at home and abroad have reacted with
shock and fury to the December 3 suicide attack. Despite belated
denials, it is generally accepted that al-Shabaab conducted this
particularly gruesome bombing. Given the aforementioned Shabaab
commander's misgivings about the murdered students, Shabaab's rank
and file may also be questioning the attack. Certainly the bombing
has further damaged Shabaab's already battered public image among
the Somalis, though it is unclear how this will manifest itself and
whether the TFG has the strength and strategic capability to
capitalize on it. End Comment.
RANNEBERGER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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