ABC6 – COLUMBUS (Lisa Ranta) — In court, prosecutors revealed new information against a suspected terrorist who’s accused of laundering more than $1,000 to terrorists and providing them electronic devices.
Abdirahman Mohamud, 23, pleaded not guilty to two counts of terror Wednesday afternoon in a rare case filed by the state.
Franklin County prosecutor Ron O’Brien told ABC 6/FOX28 that federal investigators called him last week requesting that he file his first ever terror case on a state level. He says they had yet to obtain a federal arrest warrant, but wanted Mohamud off the street after their year and a half investigation.
During the investigation they’d subpoenaed his bank records and searched his home.
In the indictment, Mohamud is accused of traveling to the Middle East to support terror and providing them with materials and funds.
His attorney says the Somali born man came to central Ohio when he was eight and has been living with his mother and other relatives here. The judge set bond at $1,000,000.
Columbus — A new mosque on the West Side features ornate chandeliers, plush carpeting, moldings etched with verses from the Quran and spacious washrooms.
The new space for the Abubakar Asiddiq Islamic Center is a far cry from the storefront that the congregation has been leasing, with open ductwork, exposed PVC pipes and a leaking ceiling covered by a tarp.
But when founding member Abukar Arman is asked what makes the new building so special, he turns not to physical amenities but to faith.
“The special thing about it is the spirit of Islam that we teach, which is the foundation of the religion,” he said, “… a religion of middle ground.”
The congregation celebrates its grand opening beginning at 3:30 p.m. today with an open house at the 591 Industrial Mile Rd. site.
It is raising about $2.8 million to pay for the first phase of the project, which includes the 1,200-capacity prayer area and washrooms. It expects to raise about $1.5 million more to add a rooftop dome and minarets, and to finish the second floor with classrooms, offices and a kitchen.
The new space comes in response to the needs of a burgeoning immigrant and Islamic population that also has a number of other mosques in central Ohio bursting at the seams.
“There has been a growing number of immigrants and Muslims moving into the southwest side of Columbus, so it created a great need to have a place, not only a place of worship, but a place of ownership and belonging for our growing community,” said project director Abdoul-Latif Shmohamed.
Likewise, on the North Side, Masjid Ibnu Taymiyah has seen a need for more services as the area’s Somali Muslim population grows. So that congregation purchased property in Clinton Township this month with plans to add a second worship site.
And in Hilliard — about 10 miles from the West Side’s Abubakar Asiddiq — leaders at Noor Islamic Cultural Center are eyeing their own expansion as holiday services this year strained the 2,000-person capacity prayer area, with some worshippers observing from outdoors.
Mouhamed Tarazi, president of the Abubakar Asiddiq board, said his group started in 2004 with a handful of families in a leased storefront on Sullivant Avenue. Ten years later, more than 600 people come to prayers each Friday, and 250 children attend afterschool and weekend Quran classes.
Masjid Ibnu Taymiyah on the North Side serves more than 500 families, compared with the 40 or 50 it served in 2003 when it bought the building it currently uses at 2334 Mock Rd., said director Ahmed Sh Ahmed.
Over in Hilliard, Noor draws about 5,000 people each Friday, said Imran Malik, president of the board that oversees the center. Weekend classes are attended by 900 children, with 300 to 400 turned away each year due to space restrictions.
With its purchase of a former Value City Department Store property at 2035 Innis Rd. for $500,000, Masjid Ibnu Taymiyah seeks to serve Muslims and non-Muslims alike on the city’s North and East sides, Ahmed said.
He said the more-than-350,000-square-foot building will be renovated, with development plans to be finalized after meetings with community members to determine needs.
Hassan Omar, director of the Somali Community Association of Ohio, said the group “couldn’t have found a better building in a better location.”
The association was not involved in the purchase but is giving advice on programs, Omar said. The building will be renovated in phases and likely will feature businesses, conference rooms, classrooms and a sports and indoor recreation area, he said.
Napoleon Bell, executive director of the Columbus Community Relations Commission, said his office has received requests from the growing immigrant and refugee community for gathering spaces.
“Anytime a group purchases a space to be used productively, it is good for the entire city — and not just that specific population,” he said.
In Hilliard, leaders at Noor are pleased to welcome Abubakar Asiddiq to the West Side and hope that it helps meet the demand for Muslim worship and education, Malik said.
“This will be great because we’ll have more channels,” he said. “We are hopeful that more synergy and collaboration can be done not only between Muslim institutions but also non-Muslim and Muslim institutions at large.”
Noor worshippers hail from more than 40 ethnic backgrounds, with Arab nations, Somalia, India and Pakistan largely represented.
Its current 17,400 square feet at 5001 Wilcox Rd. includes a mosque and was opened in 2006. Its expansion plan calls for social-activity space, including a multipurpose/banquet room, gymnasium and classrooms, Malik said.
Although members still must vote on the plan, it’s expected to be built on the current 8-acre site and cost $3 million to $5 million, he said.
The new Abubakar Asiddiq space on about 10 acres on the West Side eventually will offer about 30,000 square feet for prayer services, Quran study, study circles, seminars, social services and youth activities, including soccer. Plans are to open up the space to gatherings by inter-religious and other community groups.
The congregation serves many Somalis but also other immigrants, with increasing numbers from Iraq and Palestine, and Tarazi said the new mosque is drawing Muslims from out of state to the Columbus area.
It features a prayer area separated by one-way windows that allow women to pray privately behind men while still seeing the prayer leader. Calligraphy at the entrance offers a testament of faith in Arabic, translating to “There is no God but God, and Muhammad is his messenger.”
Columbus –When Abdi Muhammad Ali fled Somalia to a refugee camp in eastern Kenya in 1991, he remembered one important piece of paper.
His college diploma.
But his degrees in English and history from Lafole University, a college in Somalia, aren’t accepted here the way a U.S. or European degree would be. He said he had published two novels in Somalia and was working as a director at the state insurance agency there before he left for his family’s safety.
“I’m happy with the degree I have, but when I came, I had the pressure of taking care of my family,” said the Gahanna resident, who worked as a taxi driver with Orange Cab until last winter, when he injured his hip.
Ali is one of many refugees who came to the United States with a wish for security and a degree they cannot use.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services does not keep track of an immigrant’s education status unless it is a requirement for a certain type of visa, said Mary Lou Cabrera, an agency spokeswoman. But Angie Plummer, the director of Community Refugee & Immigration Services, said she sees this problem most among Iraqi, Ethiopian, Somali and Bhutanese refugees.
Hassan Omar, the director of the Somali Community Association of Ohio, said many Somalis who have degrees they can’t use in the U.S. are in their 40s and came to this country 20 years ago when civil war broke out in Somalia in the 1990s.
“I can think of 10 people off the top of my head,” he said.
Plummer and Charis Steffel, communities specialist at the World Relief Columbus refugee-resettlement program, said the refugees who come to the United States with degrees are in the minority, and some nationalities are affected more than others.
“Within the refugee community, it’s the biggest challenge for the Iraqi community,” Plummer said. “We’ve had many Iraqis that have taken a huge economic step backward, but they have traded it all for the security. It’s a tough pill to swallow.”
One of those Iraqi refugees is Sinan, who came to Columbus in May. After five years of dental school, Sinan, who asked that only his first name be published because he fears that being identified could endanger his relatives in Iraq, started two years of rotations at Iraq’s Ministry of Health. The 36-year-old refugee fled because government corruption drained the ministry of its funds, equipment and medication.
“At one point, I was buying anesthesia for my patients,” he said through a translator. “There were murders in the street every day. There was no future anymore.”
Like many other refugees, Sinan has an American friend who sponsored his relocation. Refugee-resettlement agencies help them find housing, get a Social Security number, enroll in school and adjust to cultural differences.
Tadd Wamester, who works with job seekers at the refugee and immigrant recertification program Upwardly Global, said there are barriers to refugees in licensed professions such as engineering, medicine and accounting because they require documents, tests and degree evaluations to prove a person’s skills.
He said dentistry is one of the most time-consuming and costly professions for recertification because each state has a different professional organization that influences the standards. Immigrants and refugees have to take multiple tests and training sessions that can cost more than $100,000 over at least four years.
“It’s like starting from scratch,” Wamester said. “There are fewer pathways for dentists than there are for physicians.”
Sinan, who is at the beginning of recertification, is now enrolled in English and employability classes. He knows it will take years to get reestablished as a professional here.
“It’s stressful and difficult because you come here and have to accept any job to provide for yourself,” he said. “It’s a drawn-out process, but I have to depend on work that is available to me and take it day to day.”
Hamdi Yusuf was sitting in her second-floor bedroom at the Capital Park Apartments when a bullet blasted through her window and smashed into her right cheekbone.
Her father, Abdi Burale, was downstairs.
“It was a shock,” Burale said through an interpreter last week at a North Side office for a Somali organization.
Burale said his 15-year-old daughter spent 16 days at OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital last month. She continues to heal, but the bullet remains in her skull.
“I really still don’t remember much,” said Yusuf, who will be a sophomore at Columbus Alternative High School.
Burale’s sons, ages 13 and 11, have trouble sleeping at night.
For Somalis who live near the Northern Lights shopping center on the city’s North Side, the June 13 shooting sparked new concerns about safety in an area where gunfire, robberies and break-ins are not uncommon.
“We need security, and we need a safe neighborhood,” said Burale, 44.
Community members have met twice with law enforcement since the shooting, airing general complaints and citing specific incidents at Capital Park, 2144 Agler Rd., and the Carriage House apartments, off Innis Road east of Cleveland Avenue, said Hassan Omar, president of the Somali Community Association of Ohio.
The neighborhood is part of the largest concentration of Somalis in Columbus, on the city’s North Side.
“Crime is prevalent in that neighborhood,” Omar said, adding that some residents are moving out.
Others can’t afford to.
Mohamed Jama, 73, lives at Capital Park. He said people are afraid to walk to the grocery.
“We are living in fear,” he said through an interpreter.
Another resident, Elmi Nur, 65, was attacked and beaten by four men steps from his home about two months ago. He still wears a brace on his right arm.
But Napoleon Bell, executive director of the Columbus Community Relations Commission, said he hasn’t heard of an unusual crime spike in the area.
“We just continue to work with all the refugee immigrant communities,” he said.
Abdi Soofe, an outreach coordinator with the relations commission, said he heard that the community was tense. Some women say their purses have been snatched.
“The issue with the Somali community, they think the troublemakers are from outside the community,” Soofe said.
Somali elders initially reached out last month to Franklin County Sheriff Zach Scott’s office and expressed fear that they were being targeted by non-Somali criminals, said Chief Deputy Jim Gilbert.
“We asked them, ‘Why do you believe you’re being targeted?’” Gilbert said. “They said, ‘They see us as prey. We’re hard workers,’ and are perceived as having money.”
Columbus Police Cmdr. Christopher Bowling said Somalis broached a wide range of concerns at the meeting he attended.
Many of those concerns were not crime-related but instead were complaints about living conditions at the apartment complexes, he said. Police are reviewing reports to determine whether there has been an increase in crimes, he said.
“We’re looking at the safety situation up there, and the things that aren’t police issues” will be referred to the proper agency, such as the relations commission or code-enforcement office, Bowling said.
Police explained jurisdictional boundaries and urged residents to report crime promptly, he said.
Some incidents aren’t being reported to police, Bowling said.
For instance, police learned only after Yusuf was shot that the violence had capped a day of neighborhood unrest and sporadic fights among young people. The shooting remains under investigation.
In 2003, after a number of confrontations between African-Americans and the growing Somali population at Capital Park, an effort called Project Brotherhood was started by the Columbus Urban League and the Somali Women’s Association to improve relations. The program no longer exists.
Melissa Rapp, public information officer for Mifflin Township, said Chief William Price has advised his officers to keep an eye out for problems such as those cited by the community leaders.
Price “thought it was important to be part of the communication,” she said. “That way we’re kept in the loop.”
COLUMBUS, Ohio – A family pleads for help finding their loved one’s killer.
Someone fatally shot 31-year-old Abdul-Fatah Yussuf at a north Columbus apartment complex on November 9.
“Every night when I put the kids to sleep, I cry myself,” said Fatima Ahmed.
“You don’t know how painful or how hard it is until it hits home,” said Yusuf Mohamed.
“Nobody’s around except my mom and my uncles,” said Jabro Mohamed.
Four months and the pain is still fresh for a wife, a cousin and three young children. Abdul-fatah Yusuf was abruptly ripped from their lives last fall.
From what Ahmed and Mohamed have pieced together, they’re not sure why he was there, but say Yussuf had pulled in and was approached by three men. They think the men were strangers.
“As soon as he turned around, they shot him through his chest. Then, he tried to get away, but then they started shooting randomly,” said Ahmed.
They say he was at the apartment door, trying to get help when he was shot in the back.
“What kind of human being does that? Don’t they have a heart?” said Ahmed.
Ahmed and Yussuf were married for ten years and have three children.
“It’s been extremely hard,” said Ahmed.
“He wasn’t a bad person. He was a very good person, a clean heart,” said Mohamed.
The Somali community helped to raise $6,000 for a reward. The family says police won’t get back to them about the investigation and they just need someone to come forward.
“We want justice. Whoever is responsible for this murder, shouldn’t be on the streets,” said Mohamed. “We came here to this country to better our lives, to be able to run away from war, to run away from guns.”
10TV News tried to contact the lead detective in this case. We were told he is on vacation and no one else can comment on it.
Anyone with information about the murder can call Crime Stoppers.
Shadia Muse is 28 now and has been on the run for nearly a decade.
Muse was 18 and a student at Mifflin High School when she gave birth to a baby girl in secret on Sept. 3, 2004. She wrapped the newborn in a blanket and a plastic bag and put her in a car trunk outside her North Side apartment.
She hoped nobody in her Somali family would discover her pregnancy.
But her body couldn’t hide it. That night, she went to Mount Carmel St. Ann’s hospital with stomach cramps and delivered a full-term placenta. Muse eventually admitted she had been pregnant and told Columbus police where to find the baby.
An autopsy determined that the newborn, whose umbilical cord wasn’t clamped, died from asphyxia and blood loss.
Whether out of fear of prosecution or shame from her community, she fled after she was discharged from the hospital on Sept. 5. She was charged two days later with murder.
Police and prosecutors have been looking for her ever since. In October 2004, she was indicted on charges of murder, felonious assault and endangering children. A federal arrest warrant was issued on Nov. 3 that year after she was charged with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.
More recently, the FBI drafted a wanted poster, atwww.fbi.gov/wanted/murders/shadia-mahamed-muse.
“We’re just trying to generate more publicity to generate more tips,” said Todd Lindgren, an FBI spokesman.
The agent on the case recorded a short podcast about the crime on the FBI website.
“I have concerns about the rest of her life, if there are any other children involved … so we need to know where she is, because there is no statute of limitation on murder,” agent Kristin Cadieux says in the recording.
Premarital sex is considered so sinful among Somalis that those who give birth out of wedlock — and their children — are often shunned by their families and the greater community.
Columbus Police Sgt. Christ Holzhauser, of the homicide squad, worked on the case when the baby was found. He said there have been bits of information about it over the years, but nothing developed from them.
He speculated that she might have left the country, and “when they are able to get out of the country, it’s hard to get them back.”
Investigators also speculated that Muse might have fled to another Somali community, perhaps in Boston or Atlanta where she had relatives. Other large Somali communities are in Minneapolis, Seattle, Dallas, San Diego and Washington, D.C.
Anyone with information on Muse’s whereabouts is asked to contact the FBI or Crime Stoppers at 614-645-TIPS (8477).
COLUMBUS (Camille Doty) — A $6,000 reward is being offered for information involving a homicide in Northeast Columbus. 31-year-old Abdulfatah Yussuf was fatally shot on the 2100 block of Lantern Drive on November 9.
Police said his body was found outside. Witnesses heard several shots fired and offered police a brief description. They said two males were near Yussuf prior to the shooting. One had on a black hooded sweatshirt, the other wore tan.
Central Ohio Crime Stoppers and the victim’s loved ones are asking witnesses to come forward. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 614-461-TIPS (8477) or go to www.stopcrime.org. Tips can also be sent via text to “CRIMES” (274637), keyword CMH.
A former Somali military colonel who left the U.S. while facing civil allegations that he tortured a human rights advocate is being ordered to pay $15 million in damages.
A federal judge in Ohio awarded the compensation Tuesday to a man who said he endured months of torture in the 1980s during interrogations in Somalia. The judge had previously ruled that the former colonel, Abdi Aden Magan (AHB’-dee AH’-den MAY’-gehn), was responsible for the torture.
During court proceedings, the accuser, Abukar Hassan Ahmed (AB’-oo-kahr hah-SAHN’ AHK’-mehd), said the torture made it painful for him to sit and left him incontinent.
Magan lived for years in Ohio. He initially fought the 2010 lawsuit brought by the San Francisco-based Center for Justice and Accountability but stopped participating last year and now lives in Kenya.
Ra’iisul Wasaaraha Xukuumadda Federaalka Soomaaliya Mudane Cabdi Faarax Shirdoon (Saacid) ayaa saaka xafiiskiisa ku qaabilay wafti uu hogaaminayo wakiilka midowga Africa ee Soomaaliya Amb. Maxamed Saalax Anaadif iyo xubno ka tirsan saraakiisha sar sare ee Amisom.
Kulanka Ra’iisul Wasaaruhu la yeeshay wakiilka ayaa waxaa diirada lagu saarayey arrimaha amniga iyo horumarada ay ka sameeyeen ciidanka Amisom iyo kuwa dowladda dagaalka ay kula jiraan kooxda xag-jirka ah ee Alshabab.
Markii uu soo idlaaday kulanku waxaa saxafada si wada jir ah ula hadlay Ra’iisul Wasaaraha iyo wakiil Midowga Africa u qaabilsan Soomaaliya.
“Soomaaliya waxay xubin muhiim ah ka tahay midowga Africa oo maalmo ka dib u dabaal dagaya 50 guuradii ka soo wareegtay markii dhidibada loo asaasay midowga Africa, Soomaaliya waxay hormuud ka ahayd wadamadii asaasay Midowga Africa. Waxaan leeyahay hambalyo waxaan ururka ka rajaynayaa inuu sii xoojiyo sidii loo heli lahaa Africa oo gaarta horumar dhab ah” ayuu yiri Ra’iisul Wasaare Saacid oo dhanka kale xusay inuu u mahadcelinayo wadamada Africa ee ciidamadu ka joogaa Soomaaliya.
Wakiil Midoga Africa u qaabilsan Soomaaliya ayaa dhankiisa sheegay sida ay uga go’antahay Midowga Africa sidii uu qayb libaax uga qaadan lahaa sidii nabad loogu soo dabaali lahaa Soomaaliya.
“Midowga Africa waxay u dabaal dagayaan 50 guuradii ka soo wareegtay asaaskii midowga Africa, waxaana muqdisho u imid inaan dadka Soomaaliya kala qayb qaato dabaal daga Ururka, waxaana muqdisho barito lagu qabanayaa xaflad balaaran” ayuu yiri wakiil midowga Africa oo dhanka kale sheegay in ay Ra’iisul Wasaaraha ka wada hadleen horumarada ay sameeyeen mudooyinkii danbe ciidanka Soomaaliya iyo kuwo AMISOM.
Magalada Addis Ababa ee dalka Ethiopia waxaa 25 bishaan ku kulmaya madxweynayaasha wadamada afirca iyagoona u dabaal dagaya 50 guuradii ka soo wareegtay markii la asaasay midowga Africa, waxaana lagu wadaa in madaxweynayaasha Afirca shirkooda ay diirada ku saraan arrimaha Soomaaliya.
A Somali immigrant who federal prosecutors say plotted to attack an Ohio shopping mall has been deported to Somalia.
Nuradin Abdi completed his prison sentence in August and was in federal custody in Louisiana while final preparations were made to return him to Somalia.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Monday confirmed the deportation.
Abdi’s sister, Kaltun Karani, says the family is happy that Abdi is a free man.
The Justice Department accused Abdi of suggesting a plan to shoot up an unidentified Columbus shopping mall during an August 2002 meeting at a coffee shop with two friends, both of whom were later convicted of terrorism charges.
Early reports indicated the threat might also have included bombing a mall.
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The FBI has added a new name to its list of Most Wanted Terrorists. They are also warning the local Somali community to be on alert.
Omar Shafik Hammami is a US citizen, a native of Alabama. He was placed on the FBI’s “Most Wanted” list.
According to the FBI, Hammami left the US for Somalia in 2006, and took a leadership position in al-Shabaab, a group the United States designated a terrorist organization four years ago. He has since been indicted in the US on charges of providing material support to terrorists.
WBNS-10TV found numerous videos of him online, including one where he discusses an ambush intended to kill Ethiopians.
The YouTube video shows Hammami saying “We’re going to set up the ambush” and “we’ll kill them all.”
Columbus has one of the largest Somali populations in the U.S. In an alert to law enforcement and local Somali leaders, the FBI said, “Hammami remains a threat, especially for his ability to recruit English speaking young men and women for the purposes of fighting in Somalia.”
“There have been indictments in Minnesota for American youth who travel overseas to fight with al-Shabaab and certainly that’s something we want to make sure doesn’t happen in Columbus or anywhere else,” Todd Lindgren, of FBI Cincinnati said.
The Bureau would not comment as to whether there have been any such cases of local Somalis recruited by terror groups, but said that it continues to partner with Columbus’s Somali Community to protect its young people from such tactics.
A week before election day in the United States, all eyes are on swing states and on Ohio in particular. The state is split between Democrats and Republicans but also has many undecided voters. The state capital, Columbus, is home to the country’s second-largest Somali community, mostly refugees.
Sarah, a young woman wearing a black headscarf with rhinestones is one of them. Until she cast an early ballot on Monday, she was not sure whom she would vote for.
“I was undecided, between Obama, the Democrat, versus the Republicans,” she explains. “I voted Republican the first time that I voted but this time I voted the Democrat.”
That first time was in 2008, the first time she ever voted in the United States. She says she voted for Republican John McCain for president then because she did not agree with Obama and the Democrats’ stance on gay marriage.
But this time she does not like Republican candidate Mitt Romney. She is particularly angry about his comments in a secretly recorded fundraising speech where he dismissed the 47 per cent of Americans who pay no federal income tax, saying they are dependent on the government.
That upset Sarah so much that that she has persuaded her friends and co-workers to vote against Romney. She came to the early voting centre with five other women – friends and neighbours – and vows to bring more later.
Two thousand people have been showing up at the early voting centre in Columbus each day since it opened on 2 October. People are casting absentee ballots in person.
Among the voters are many Somalis. Only Minneapolis has a larger Somali population than Columbus’s 55,000.
Mussa Farah, the president of the Columbus-based Horn of Africa Rescue Committee, says most, like him, came to the US after the civil war in their country of origin.
“We came here as refugees, and a good number became US citizens,” he says. He estimates between 18,000 and 20,000 Somalis have become citizens, which makes them eligible to vote.
“I don’t know whether all of them vote,” he adds. “But a good number of us vote.”
During elections his group helps people register to vote and get to the polls. He says there is motivation in the community.
“We come from a country where democracy was not practised, so we are very excited in this process,” he says. “We educate people on how one vote can make a difference.”
This is particularly true in Ohio, where the election will be decided on a very slim margin.
For several weeks members of Farah’s group have been spending time in Somali neighbourhoods, like the Providence Glen housing development, encouraging people to register to vote.
Now, a week before election day, they are encouraging people to go vote early to avoid lines on 6 November.
Abdul, a tall man wearing a fedora and leather gloves against the cold and wind, knocks on doors, looking for people on a list of registered voters provided by the board of elections.
People open their doors cautiously, though once they hear him speak thier language, they open them further.
Several people promise him they will go to vote later. One elderly woman is in the verge of accepting his offer to drive her to the early voting centre but her son insists it is too cold.
Another woman was convinced she had voted when she registered.
“I told her that’s not a vote; you have to go in person to vote,” Abdul says after a prolonged conversation in Arabic. “Now she understands and she said she’ll go vote.”
Back at the early voting centre, 25-year-old Amaal and her mother have just voted. Her mother smiles broadly. Speaking in a combination of English and Arabic, she says this is her first time voting.
“I’m happy because I’m American, I have choice,” she says.
Amaal says she and her mother had been leaning towards voting for Obama but they had watched the debate to make sure, “to hear the other side”.
And the debate divided the family.
“We are voting for Obama,” says Amaal but her brothers are voting Romney.
It’s this division, in the Somali community and all over Ohio, that explains why this state has become the most closely watched in this election. So far Obama has kept his narrow lead, but with a week to go before election day, anything can happen.
Nadia Mohamed was too young to remember the unsanitary living conditions and lack of medical care in the places she and her family stayed while trying to flee Somalia during its civil war.
But she got a glimpse of that life when her family returned to Africa seven years ago.
She saw patients sharing beds with only one doctor to serve them at a rural hospital in Kenya. She visited an orphanage that did not have enough medicine to treat all the sick children.
That’s when she knew she was going to be a nurse.
“It’s so sad, the quality of life they live in,” said Mohamed, 21, who plans to graduate from Mount Carmel College of Nursing in May. “When I came back, I knew I wanted to help.”
Somali youths are attracted to medical careers in part because of such personal experiences, said Hassan Omar, leader of the Somali Community Association of Ohio.
“They saw in their own eyes the shortage of doctors and nurses and other medical issues in refugee camps,” Omar said. “There may have been 50,000 or 100,000 people who were not able to get to a doctor.”
Several Somali college and high-school students say they want to return home to help other families in need, but they also recognize the need to help those living in Columbus.
“We have so many taboo subjects that we don’t cover in our culture, like vaccinations and STD prevention,” said Farhia Ibrahim, a nurse at Mount Carmel West.
She said many Somali families don’t seek medical attention for health and mental-illness issues, preferring to deal with them on their own.
“There is so much parents don’t understand,” said Ibrahim, who graduated from Mount Carmel College of Nursing in 2009. “So many of our traditions hurt us, not help us.”
At Columbus State Community College, about one-third of the 161 Somali students enrolled this fall signed up for health-related studies.
Sandra Arrighi, director of the college’s medical lab technology program, said she’s had Somali students who wanted to use their personal loss as a means to help others.
“One student saw his brother die because of a blood transfusion,” Arrighi recalled. “He said, ‘I want to know how to do that better and not have that happen again.’ ”
But there are cultural differences that come with the job they don’t expect.
In some areas of Somalia, female nurses cared for only women, and they didn’t handle urine or blood. Muslim Somali nurses could tend to single men only if the patients were comatose.
“There are a lot of different nuances and an idea of what nursing is in Somalia,” said Kathy Espy, director of community involvement and minority affairs for Mount Carmel College of Nursing. “ In the U.S., when you’re a nurse, you take care of men, women and children. You get thrown up on. You get blood on you, and you get dirty. (Somali students) have to reconcile with that.”
Younger generations of local Somali students who didn’t experience life in the camps say they’ve been encouraged to pursue careers in the health-care field in hopes of getting a job directly after college.
But several high-school students say they’ve been inspired by family members and friends who are nurses, doctors and dental assistants.
Asha Basha, a sophomore at Hilliard Davidson High School, has an aunt and cousin who are nurses, and her mother is attending Otterbein University to become a nurse.
“Since my mom, my aunt and my cousin are trying to help people, I wanted to do that, too,” said Basha, who wants to study to become a pediatrician.
The Somali Student Association at Ohio State organized its first-ever5k/one-mile run Sunday on the Oval in an effort to raise money for the victims of the famine in Somalia.
Project Run for Life: Horn of Africa, was developed over the summer by SSA board members and OSU Undergraduate Student Government senate member BilalBajwa.
Since then, Run for Life has raised $11,000 in donations from various businesses across Columbus, sponsorships from USG, student organizations and from several OSU departments, according to Zakaria Farah, SSA treasurer and a second-year in environmental engineering
All proceeds from the event will be presented to Helping Hand for Relief and Development, a non-profit organization based in Detroit,Mich., which provides humanitarian aid in emergency situations, according to its website.
SSA president and third-year international relations and diplomacy major, SimonaNoor said Helping Hand was the perfect choice given that members from Helping Hand are on the ground in Somalia and in neighboring refugee camps in Dadaab, Kenya.
“We wanted (Helping Hand) because they were on site. We could’ve sent it to the U.N., we could’ve sent it to all these other organizations, but we thought this was the best choice for us for now,” Noor said.
The United Nations agricultural agency said in a press release in September that famine conditions had spread to a sixth area in Somalia, putting approximately 750,000 people in the country at risk of starvation this year.
Despite the overwhelming humanitarian response to the drought and famine crisis in the Horn of Africa, the demand for food and health relief remains high, according to the U.N.
Farah said the purpose of the fundraiser was not only to raise money, but to also help spread awareness around campus of the ongoing issues in Somalia.
“We wanted our project, our 5K and our experience to get others motivated to do something and be aware of what’s going on in the world,” Farah said.
Approximately 200 participants gathered at the Oval and each was given the option to either run the 5K or walk a mile.
Both groups took different routes. Those that opted for the 5K started at the Oval then went past the Ohio Stadium, over to Lane Avenue and all the way to River Watch tower before heading back to the Oval.
Participants that opted for the one-mile, walked to 17th Avenue and then headed back to the Oval.
Bajwa said hosting the event at the Oval was no easy task.
“The main reason we fought to have it in the Oval (is) because of the idea we’re promoting here, (which is) OSU is giving back to the community,” she said.
Ryan Terek, a third-year in accounting, expressed his outlook on the event and the cause at hand.
“It’s always good to give back, especially when it’s such a drastic cause,” he said. “This is a prevalent issue but not a lot of people organize runs. Maybe it’s because it’s Africa and people don’t know how to give back to something like this.”
Noor said that as the president of SSA and as a Somali, she felt it was her job to give back to the people of Somalia.
“My focus in life is to help people out,” she said, “I want the people (of Somalia) to know even if you’re suffering, there is someone else in the world that cares about you and thinks about you and wants to help you out.”
SSA plans on making Run for Life an annual event, but the focus of the event would change. Instead of SSA deciding on a cause, OSU students will get to vote on the cause and the location of the run, according to Farah.
SSA will also be hosting a banquet Nov. 21 at the Performance Hall, located in the Ohio Union. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased by visiting projectrunforlife.org.
James C. Swan, the new U.S. special representative for Somalia, wanted to hear from Columbus Somalis about U.S. policy in their homeland.
For some in the Somali diaspora, Swan’s appointment indicates to them that the United States is willing to take a lead in helping to resolve the many problems that have fractured the war-torn country for 21 years.
Abdi Issa was direct when he spoke to Swan.
“You have an opportunity to make it or break it,” Issa told Swan. He wants the United States to provide more humanitarian support to help stabilize the country.
“We need an American action immediately,” said Issa, who is a village council member in Urbancrest. “You have all of our support.”
Swan was appointed in August and is based in Nairobi. He came to Columbus to speak with about 60 Somalis at Monaco’s Palace in the Northland area.
The Obama administration has pursued a “dual-track” policy of supporting the weak transitional government while talking to leaders in regions such as Somaliland and Puntland — anyone who isn’t supporting the extremist al-Shabab group that is linked to al-Qaida.
Al-Shabab has been battling transitional government and African Union peacekeeping forces while thwarting relief aid from reaching the people who need it.
The United States has provided $750 million in humanitarian aid to drought-stricken regions in the Horn of Africa, reaching 4.6 million people. That includes $175 million to Somalia.
Swan said the transition period for the government must end if the many needs of the Somali people are to be properly addressed. He hopes the transition will conclude with the election of a new president next August.
Jibril Mohamed, president of the Somali Community Action Network in Columbus, said the U.S. government can’t dictate to Somalia what the new government will be. But he said he’s glad the government appointed Swan to help lead American efforts to find a solution.
Before he spoke to the community yesterday, Swan met with Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, Somali’s former prime minister who served less than a year and is back home in Buffalo after he was ousted this summer.
After meeting with the Somali community, Swan spoke at Ohio State University’s Mershon Center for International Security Studies.
A clash last month between black and Bhutanese Nepali residents of a North Side apartment complex started when two men tried to rob one of the refugees, witnesses said.
Now, the city of Columbus is trying to set up a meeting between the Bhutanese Nepali community and other residents to try to discuss cultural differences and other simmering issues.
Abdi Soofe of the city’s Community Relations Commission called it an “educational forum” for residents of the Breckenridge Apartments. About 100 Bhutanese Nepali refugees live in the complex, which is south of the former Northland Mall site.
A Columbus police officer shot and killed Francis Owens, 21, as he scuffled with another officer during the fight among about two dozen people in a courtyard. Police said Owens had a gun.
Soofe described the incident as a “couple of gangsters robbing people” and said he doesn’t think race was a factor.
Further details or what role might have been played by Owens, who was black, were unavailable. Witnesses said he fired a gun into the air to try to stop the fight and was not involved in a robbery.
By the time police arrived after an onlooker called 911, the melee had grown. One woman who saw the fight said that as many as 20 Bhutanese Nepali refugees were beating four black men.
She said cultural differences between the two groups have been causing tension in the complex. She did not want to be named for fear of retaliation.
Among complaints: Bhutanese Nepali children play in the carports seemingly without regard for traffic, and drivers have to shoo them out of the way. People are occasionally awakened in the early morning by drumming from what they believe to be religious ceremonies.
On the other hand, some Bhutanese Nepali residents said they have seen or heard of black residents hitting or harassing members of the immigrant group.
Not everyone at the complex feels the tension. The refugees are “cool people who don’t bother nobody,” said Kenneth Hawkins, 21, who has lived there for five years. “They live like regular people.”
The refugees began arriving in Columbus in 2008. Originally from Nepal, they had moved to the nearby kingdom of Bhutan, where the growing ethnic minority was considered a threat and expelled. Those coming to America are among 100,000 Bhutanese Nepalis who have lived in refugee camps in Nepal for nearly two decades.
The first group of more than two dozen families was placed at the Breckenridge and another complex by the refugee agency US Together. By 2009, the immigrant community had grown to about 120. Since then, the community has grown to at least 500, most of whom live in the same North Side area.
Community Refugee and Immigration Services-Ohio has helped find housing for the Bhutanese Nepalis. Angie Plummer, the group’s executive director, said members of the community keep to themselves. She had not heard of culture clashes at Breckenridge.
“I don’t think this was a racial-tension issue,” she said. “This was a bunch of criminal … ne’e r-do-wells looking for people to prey on.”
But, Plummer said, she worries about the safety of refugees, and her agency is taking a closer look at Breckenridge to determine whether it’s an appropriate place.
The challenge is finding complexes that rent to people with no income and no credit history, she said. And even if she were to discourage refugees from living in certain places, many would find their way there anyway because they want to be close to friends and family.
Gryphon Asset Management of Columbus took over Breckenridge on March 1 after the owners defaulted on a loan, said Rich Kruse, Gryphon’s president. About 70 percent of the 604 units are occupied.
Private security officers were hired to patrol the complex the weekend after the fight and again this past weekend, Kruse said.
Soofe hopes that whatever tension remains at Breckenridge can be resolved.
“Everybody faces challenges, from the Italians to Irish to Mexicans to Somalis,” he said. “ Everybody went through these challenges.
“It’s not black or white or Asian. It’s a human-being problem.”
Two days after a Somali man was arrested in Columbus on terrorism charges, Somalis gathered to protest the ouster of Somalia’s popular prime minister.
They fear that more political instability in the war-ravaged country could give Islamic extremists a leg up in their fight against Somalia’s shaky government.
That in turn could increase the risk that al-Shabab, the al-Qaida-linked terrorist group, will step up recruitment of young men in the United States and elsewhere to join their cause.
“Al-Shabab wants these guys to leave because they’re taking steps to eliminate al-Shabab,” said Jibril Mohamed, who leads the Somali Community Access Network in Columbus.
At least 200 Somalis gathered in the parking lot of the closed Value City department store at Innis and Westerville roads, waving blue Somali flags and giving speeches protesting the removal of Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed.
Mohamed is an American citizen and was an official for the housing authority in Buffalo, N.Y.
But the prime minister must resign in 30 days because of an agreement by Somalia’s president and parliamentary speaker to extend the transitional government for one year, sacrificing Mohamed’s job in the process.
With even more instability overseas, Jibril Mohamed fears that “al-Shabab will continue to recruit young people in Somalia, young people in America, young people in Europe.”
On Thursday, the FBI arrested Ahmed Hussein Mahamud at his Northeast Side apartment after he was indicted in Minnesota and accused of providing support, including money and people, to al-Shabab in Somalia.
The 26-year-old had moved from the Minneapolis area four months ago.
“If that man was not caught in time,” said Khadra Mohamed, 42, a local community organizer, “we don’t know what would have happened.”
Somalis yesterday said they want the U.S. government to support the prime minister.
A member of the prime minister’s cabinet is a Westerville man, Abdinur Mohamud, who left his job as a language consultant for the Ohio Department of Education to become minister of education, culture and higher education.