Friday, March 27, 2015

Diaspora

Commissioner Ibrahim Mohamed

Commissioner Ibrahim Mohamed

MinnPost – Last month’s appointment of the first Somali-American, Ibrahim Mohamed, to the Metropolitan Airports Commission has attracted volumes of plaudits and media attention across Minnesota — and other parts of the world.

But on Tuesday night, it brought Gov. Mark Dayton, local officials and community leaders to Minneapolis’ Brian Coyle Center, where more than 80 people assembled to celebrate and honor the historic appointment of the commissioner, who drives a cart at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport for minimum wage.

Appointed in February by Dayton, Mohamed joined 13 other commissioners who operate the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport and six smaller airports in the metro area. Dayton said he appointed Mohamed because his employment experience at the airport can be a voice for hundreds of other airport workers in the decision-making process.

“I made appointments to the Metropolitan Airports Commission previously — and this is overdue,” Dayton told the crowd, speaking about Mohamed’s appointment. “It was overdue before I arrived, and it’s overdue now that I’m in my fifth year as governor. I regret that, apologize for that.”

Overdue or not, Mohamed’s face beamed with excitement as he expressed his appreciation to the governor for the appointment during a short speech before the crowd.

After escaping the Somali civil war in 1991, Mohamed lived in Kenya as a refugee for more than a decade, longing for a better place with opportunities to work and to pursue his dreams.

“As many immigrants, I came here to change my life and get a better life,” Mohamed said. “Now I am a cart driver, which I am happy to be because I am helping a lot of people who need my help, like elderly people and disabled persons. I work five days, and every day I help more than 80 passengers.”

In 2004, Mohamed settled in the Twin Cities and immediately secured a job at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport. Over the years, Mohamed worked as an aircraft cleaner, a baggage runner and a ticket verifier.

As a full-time electric cart driver now, the 35-year-old Rosemount father of five earns $ 8 an hour — with no health benefits.

Mohamed and his colleagues have been advocating for improved working conditions for the hundreds of airport employees, many of them immigrants from Somalia and Ethiopia.

When Mohamed’s friends learned about the opening on the Metropolitan Airports Commission — the body that governs operations at MPS — they encouraged him to apply so he could represent their interests. 

As a commissioner, Mohamed said he will continue advocating for better working conditions for airport employees and for increased wages.

“It’s very hard to raise kids or family with the minimum wage,” Mohamed said. “That’s why I’m standing up to represent the airport workers and my community.”

The governor promised to stand by Mohamed in his efforts for a better wage for airport workers. “I will redouble my efforts and do whatever I can to support your efforts and the board of the airport commission to improve your working conditions, improve the wages,” he said.

Airport workers like Mohamed have indirectly “been treated badly” by the commission, Dayton later said in an interview. This is because the commissioners provide authorization to private companies that operate at the airport to pay their workers less.

“The airport couldn’t function without the hard work of commissioner Mohamed and his co-workers — and they deserve to be recognized,” Dayton said. “The fact that he was making $12.50 an hour a few years ago, according to reports, and they reduced that to minimum wage is just disgraceful.”

Mohamed, whose term ends in 2019, said he brings a unique perspective to the Commission, since the majority of commissioners come from white-collar backgrounds.

“We applaud Governor Dayton for insisting that a worker be represented on the MAC, and appointing a great candidate like Ibrahim Mohamed,” said Local 26 President Javier Morillo in a statement. “I am excited to see Ibrahim continue the work he has always done fighting to make the MSP airport the best airport it can be for both employees and passengers.” 

Ibrahim Hirsi can be reached at ihirsi@minnpost.com. Follow him on Twitter at@IHirsi.

muslim canadians

CBC News – “I’m a Muslim. I’m labelled a terrorist. I trust you, do you you trust me? Give me a hug.”

That’s what Mustafa Mawla’s handwritten signs read as he stood in Toronto’s Dundas Square on a frigid day in January. 

It was part of a social experiment he and a group of young Muslim-Canadian filmmakers undertook to explore their feelings in a country where politicians are ramping up the talk about fighting terrorism.

muslim canadiansStanding there blindfolded, arms outstretched, waiting for hugs on a busy street corner, Mawla wondered if they would ever come.

“I was thinking that most of the time I would be left standing there, that people are going to walk by and that I am going to be cold,” he says.

Mawla and fellow young Muslims know Canadians’ safety in the era of ISIS is about to become a ballot-box issue and they’re nervous, not necessarily about terrorism, but about hate and suspicion.

They have a request for Prime Minister Stephen Harper: Ease up on the rhetoric.

“I would ask him to to take it easy with the words ‘Islam’ and ‘terrorism’ and scaring people that there are jihadis or terrorists among us,” says Assma Galuta, a university student who conceived the “Give me a hug” project and hopes one day to do humanitarian work abroad.

“There are unstable citizens from any faith, any religion, but to target Islam and scare your own citizens… [Harper is] creating a barrier between a lot of people.”

Galuta doesn’t just talk theoretically. The changes she has witnessed in Canada have been swift and at times cruel.

She maintains she lost friends after the attacks on Parliament Hill in Ottawa in October, which were perpetrated by a man thought to have been sympathetic to Islamic extremism. 

 ‘Kill the terrorists’

One friend, a Canadian soldier, was so angry after the shootings that he told her it was time to “go and kill the terrorists.” 

She says she tried to talk calmly with him, but he said, “What your people are doing is wrong.”

Your people. That hurt, she says.

Galuta says she has stopped wearing her headscarf. That’s a big deal. She wore it from the age of nine, but now feels targeted because of it.

“As a woman walking home alone at night, it’s one thing to be scared about. But with the scarf on, it’s traumatizing,” she says.

These 20-something Canadians are smart, eloquent, well-read and deeply passionate, but they all agree they are now more careful about expressing their opinions, especially about Canada’s foreign policy or the way this government is handling threats of domestic terrorism. 

Parents are concerned

Maaz Khan, a university student, says his parents are particularly concerned. 

“They don’t want us to get hurt, or us to feel unsafe when we go to school or anywhere. They want us to be safe, that’s why they want us to stay away from these [topics],” he says. 

Mawla’s parents have offered similar cautions. 

“When we go out, my mom tells me, ‘Don’t go out of your way and say things, do things against the media and stuff because if it is taken out of context, then you will be in trouble. The police will say, “Oh, you said this before, so you might be doing this.”‘ Taken out of context, [any commentary] can be used any way.”

It doesn’t feel like the Canada they grew up in. Of that Galuta seems certain.

The good news, however, is that sometimes human kindness wins over fear. It did on the day of the experiment in Dundas Square. 

Mawla, who thought he’d be left standing alone, was hugged — repeatedly. 

One man even stopped his car in the intersection, ran to him, gave him a big bear hug and got back into his car. 

That’s the Canada these young Muslims love and want to defend.

ISIS

ISIS

CBC News — It is thought that another man from Edmonton has been recruited to join ISIS, CBC News has learned.

Omar Aden is in his mid-twenties. He was living in Edmonton before leaving in the summer of 2013 to study Islam in Egypt, members of the city’s Somali community told CBC News.

Several months later, he called his family from Syria.

A relative said Aden previously worked in Fort McMurray, where the family believes he may have fallen in with extremists and was radicalized. 

If confirmed, the man would be the fourth person from Edmonton’s Somali community to join ISIS overseas. Jibril Ibrahim, president of the Somali Canadian Cultural Society of Edmonton, said it shows Canada must do more to address radicalization in its borders.

“There are about 160 Canadians who have left Canada to go out and be part of this terrorizing group,” he said.

“So, we need to look, all of us, into the mirror and say ‘why did we lose those youth and see what could we have done better?’”

Earlier this year, CBC reported three cousins who had been living in Edmonton were killed while fighting for ISIS. According to the father of one of the men, the trio left for Syria in October 2013 and were killed a year later.

Last month, CBC News reported that a young woman who is believed to have joined group was radicalized by someone in Edmonton.

Rows of worshipers bowed in prayer during a recent Friday service at the new mosque inside Karmel Mall. The space is on a newly added third floor.
Rows of worshipers bowed in prayer during a recent Friday service at the new mosque inside Karmel Mall. The space is on a newly added third floor.
Rows of worshipers bowed in prayer during a recent Friday service at the new mosque inside Karmel Mall. The space is on a newly added third floor.

Star Tribune – Construction of the metro area’s newest mosque involved a shopping trip to the Middle East, some back-and-forth with the city of Minneapolis and a reported $3 million investment.

But developer Basim Sabri says setting out to build one of Minnesota’s largest mosques at his Karmel Square mall wasn’t a vanity project. Instead, the space — part of a major expansion at Karmel — was meant as a goodwill gesture to the local Somalis who rent and shop at the south Minneapolis mall.

The expansion has tested Sabri’s famously tense relationships with the city and the mall’s neighbors, who have voiced concerns over parking and traffic issues. Part of the construction collapsed in May, cutting off electricity to the neighborhood and briefly stalling the project.

Since it opened earlier this year, the mosque has gotten rave reviews from a growing cadre of worshipers, who cover the sun-filled, 5,000-square-foot prayer hall completely when they kneel at Friday prayer.

“This mosque is not about showing off,” said Sabri. “It’s about need.”

The new mosque replaces a prayer room on the second floor that could not handle the crowds; worshipers spilled out into the mall hallways and, during the holy month of Ramadan, even the mall parking lot.

The space is on the newly added third floor of the state’s oldest Somali mall, where shops sell long skirts and scarves, henna tattoos, jewelry, handbags, rugs and Somali specialties such as savory sambusa pastries.

Sabri is also building a fourth floor and a three-story parking ramp.

He claims the new mosque is the largest in Minnesota, possibly even the Midwest. But the imam of another new Twin Cities mosque, Darool-Uloom, which moved into a former Catholic church on St. Paul’s East Side last summer, says it handily surpasses Karmel’s square footage to claim that distinction.

There, Imam Sheikh Hassan says the men’s prayer hall alone covers about 15,000 square feet.

Metro Islamic centers such as Al-Farooq Youth and Family Center in Bloomington and Abubakar As-Siddique in Minneapolis are larger overall, but their prayer spaces are more modest than Karmel’s.

In any case, says Abubakar Executive Director Ismail Haji, the services offered are more important than the square footage: “We’re not in competition with each other.”

Sabri, a Palestinian immigrant, says the mosque at Karmel was a labor of love he designed and financed with his own money. Sabri’s wife traveled to Jordan, where she bought artwork with Qur’an verses from Iraqi, Syrian and Palestinian artisans. The new rugs and chandeliers are from Turkey, and the stained-glass windows were salvaged from churches in Iowa and Wisconsin.

The new mosque has spurred a 20 percent uptick in traffic to the mall, Sabri estimates; as many as 800 worshipers have filled the incense-scented space for Friday prayer service in Somali and Arabic.

Like some of Sabri’s other projects across Minneapolis, the mall expansion has drawn a measure of controversy. When newly installed trusses collapsed and knocked down a third-floor wall in May, some neighbors said they had raised concerns in vain about what they saw as shoddy construction. Nobody was hurt.

“When the accident happened, I was so angry because it could have been prevented,” said Raymond Hoffner, the outgoing president of the condo association.

Hoffner gives Sabri props for taking steps to address traffic issues, but he said problems with illegal parking in the condo lot and nearby businesses persist.

He wishes the city had called for completion of the new ramp before the rest of the project.

Sabri, who has previously tussled with the city over starting projects before officials signed off on them, lined up a permit for the expansion in February 2014. But last summer, city staff pointed out that he needed an additional assembly occupancy permit for the mosque.

“It’s fair to say there have been some concerns on both sides of the fence,” said district supervisor Bill Smith, though he and Sabri both say the process was more cooperative this time around.

Worshipers at a recent Friday prayer service said they have welcomed the new space. Abdihakim Omar, a driver, said he didn’t even try to snag a spot in the former prayer room downstairs most weeks. Instead, he went to pray at another south Minneapolis Somali mall, Village Market, right across from his apartment.

But he’s come to Karmel every Friday since the new mosque opened in late January.

“It’s beautiful; it’s huge,” Omar said. “You can’t imagine how grateful we are.”

Liban Hussein, a Somali TV host and producer, said that the old prayer room got hot and stuffy. Out in the hallways, worshipers couldn’t see the imam or hear the service well, leading to confusion about when to stand and when to kneel.

“Non-Muslims should come and visit,” he said, “and see the beauty of the place.”

Kenya's home-grown drug problem

Kenya's home-grown drug problem

Reuters – Drug use in Kenya has risen fast in the past few years, according to religious leaders, politicians and charities working to tackle the problem. They say domestic use has soared as international drug cartels have turned east Africa into a major transit route for narcotics from Afghanistan. Some of the drugs spill onto the local market, they say.

Juma Ngao, a director at Kenya’s National Authority for Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA) said the Indian Ocean port towns of Mombasa, Malindi and Lamu have been hardest hit because most drug shipments come by sea.

“There is an easy market for drugs on the coast,” said Phylis Mwema, who runs a youth rehabilitation organisation in Mombasa. “Youth are uneducated, idle and jobless, and the only thing they can do is drugs.”

The problem has become a political issue, with many Kenyans concerned it will fuel the region’s rising crime and poor security. A spate of Islamist attacks on bars, non-Muslims and other targets has already dented the coastal region’s tourism industry. The growing drug problem could further harm an area best known for sun and sand. Yet with Mombasa’s police and some politicians often accused of corruption and involvement in the drugs trade, many Kenyans are despondent about the country’s prospects of kicking its new addiction.

Walid Abubakar with College Possible coach Grace Fowler. Photo by Molly Jade Photograph
Walid Abubakar with College Possible coach Grace Fowler. Photo by Molly Jade Photograph
Walid Abubakar with College Possible coach Grace Fowler. Photo by Molly Jade Photograph

MINNPOST — When Walid Abubakar began thinking about paying for college, he budgeted for textbooks, transportation, living expenses — all of the usual stuff. And then he thought long and hard about the $300 to $400 a month he has been sending his family in Ethiopia.

Remittances — the money immigrants send from their new, more prosperous home — are life-changing to the family members who get them, but they’re not the lynchpin for a stable household budget, much less the cornerstone of a healthy national economy.

Anxious though he is to improve things in East Africa, Abubakar, who is Oromo, doesn’t think continuing to send money indefinitely is the healthiest way to help. At the same time, he can’t abandon his relatives.

His father transports potatoes from Somalia to Ethiopia along a road frequently ambushed by the militant group Al-Shabaab, a job that allows the family to subsist. Most of the money Walid sends pays for his sisters to go to school.

And so Abubakar, who is a senior at Ubah Medical Academy in Hopkins, has a plan to set his father up in a sustainable business while he, Abubakar, goes to college. He’s considering becoming either an engineer or a pharmacist — both professions that could make a critical difference in Ethiopia.

Encouraged to write about background

The plan existed only in Abubakar’s mind until recently, when a coach he works with through the St. Paul-based national nonprofit College Possible cajoled him into writing an essay about his journey from a refugee camp to academic success here. He was going to need scholarships, lots and lots of scholarships, and a “special circumstance” letter would go a long way toward securing them.

He was working on an application for the very competitive National Horatio Alger Scholarship when Grace Fowler, the coach who has worked with him for two years, glanced over his shoulder. “I was sitting in the computer lab thinking about how many students across the country were applying for this,” he recalls. “She said, ‘I know you can go deeper than that, Walid.’”

Abubakar was surprised. He had thought his background was a complicated liability: “It never occurred to me someone would hear my story and think of it as a strength.”

Right after the holidays Abubakar learned he was one of 100 students chosen for the prestigious scholarship. That means he has a minimum of $22,000 to put toward college — a sum colleges that partner with the program will match.

He has also heard back from eight of the 10 colleges he applied to that any would be happy to admit him and one, St. John’s University, has offered him a $20,000 presidential scholarship. (The two holdouts: Macalester and Carleton colleges, two of Abubakar’s top three choices.)

Intensive coaching through college

Launched 15 years ago by Jim McCorkell, who had a lot of help getting from a low-income background to first Carleton and then Harvard, College Possible recruits low-income high school sophomores with GPAs of 2.5 or higher — frequently the first in their families to even consider college — and provides intensive coaching until they have completed a degree.

Upper-income students are almost 10 times more likely to earn a degree, College Possible Twin Cities Executive Director Sara Dziuk notes: “The injustice of this gap is staggering and it’s hurting our economy. … The perseverance these students demonstrate once they see what’s possible is awe-inspiring and we are thrilled by the opportunity to reach more of them.”

The organization serves more than 15,000 students in 45 high schools and numerous colleges. This year it is working with more than 11,000 Minnesota youth. Participants are 10 times more likely than their peers to complete college, according to a study recently released by researchers at Harvard University.

At a White House summit held in December, College Possible announced plans to increase its capacity to serve 20,000 students in 10 cities by 2020. It’s not the first time the program, which used to be known as Admission Possible, has earned a shout-out from President Barack Obama.

Two hours twice a week

Coaches, all of them AmeriCorps members, meet for two hours with high school students twice a week. By the time students graduate they have received 320 hours of support.

Among other things, juniors prepare for and take the ACT and SAT to get an idea where they are versus where they want to be. They then get intensive support working to increase their scores and find the enrichment opportunities colleges also look for.

As seniors, participants apply to colleges and for financial aid. As college students, they get ongoing help navigating personal finance and the other obstacles that can get in the way of completion.

Abubakar had set himself a high bar even before he found out about College Possible, but he was unsure how to vault it. When a coach from the program visited his class two years ago, he was determined to get in.

“I felt like it was what I needed,” he says. “I wanted to go to college and I wanted to go to a college I wanted.

“The whole organization is for people who need support for college readiness and the ACT, and those are definitely the kinds of support I wouldn’t have. Considering I didn’t have much parenting, the coaches kind of take over that role.”

For the most part, Abubakar has managed his life and education without the adult support most students count on. Eleven years ago when Ethiopia was at war with Somalia his family lived in a refugee camp. The resettlement program they were eligible for could not move everyone, so the two oldest children, Abubakar and his sister, came to the United States with two aunts.

Spoke no English

Abubakar had never been to school and spoke no English when he entered Minneapolis’ Anne Sullivan. He struggled there and decided on his own — his aunts were in no better position to navigate the school system — to switch schools in fourth grade to a program with a science and technology focus.

“If you ask any African parent, over anything you [should become] an engineer or a doctor,” he explains. “Considering Africa is not a very developed continent, resources like those are what people need.”

Abubakar did well in school, but felt isolated. When high school came around he enrolled himself at Ubah, where a majority of students are African immigrants.

When he heard about College Possible he had the same reservations that haunted him when he began applying for scholarships. He works full time as a security guard — he lives in his own apartment in St. Louis Park — and would need to leave one of the two weekly sessions a few minutes early.

A disappointing score — and a strategy

Fowler didn’t blink. Nor did she try to temper his aspirations — an all-too-frequent occurrence in high school guidance offices. She did push him to take the ACT, and invited him to spend his lunch hour in her room after he learned got a 19.

“I was devastated,” says Abubakar. He had already dared dream much higher than that.

“This is not a reflection of your intelligence,” Fowler told him. “This is something else.” She outlined a strategy for getting the 25 he would eventually need: Starting with his lowest score and moving toward the highest, work on getting ahead in each subject area.

“One of the things I emphasize when I give back ACTs is I say, ‘This is you taking the test without any guidance,’” she says. “We didn’t tell you to bring a pencil. We didn’t tell you to bring a calculator. This is you at your least prepared.”

Increasing his academic qualifications wasn’t as daunting as thinking about the money. “We did a lot of sessions on how much it would cost,” Abubakar says. “I knew there would be a lot of scholarships out there, so I let myself dream big.”

He wrote essay after essay after essay — eight for the Gates Millennium Scholarship alone and an especially close to his heart one to Macalester about his dream of participating in the college’s strong campus interfaith groups. (Abubakar is Muslim, and would like to help put an end to American stereotypes of Islam.)

Abubakar was managing everything — living independently, working full time and sending money home, raising his grades and taking honors courses and applying to colleges — when his mother died. She passed suddenly and without explanation; because Ethiopia lacks health care, disease goes undiagnosed, he explains.

‘I was overwhelmed’

“I didn’t want to get out of bed,” he recalls. “I didn’t want to come to school. I was overwhelmed.”

Here, too, Fowler was a safety net: “She made it as easy as possible for me to be here and to be myself.”

Abubakar’s story is unique, but the obstacles between him and a college degree are not. By using the AmeriCorps model, College Possible is able to serve students in five cities for one-seventh the cost of similar efforts. A whopping 98 percent of participants are admitted to college, which they are overwhelmingly likely to complete.

In January the group was rewarded with one of 26 U.S. Department of Education Investing in Innovation grants for $3 million to help with the planned expansion.

When he is done with college Abubakar would like to go back to Ethiopia to help. But he’d like to make something of himself here first, so that much as he plans to turn his remittances into capital for a family business, he can help others gain the skills to build a stronger economy.

“Looking back on my background and where I come from, there are not a lot of people who are educated,” says Abubakar. “My parents, the highest education they got was the elementary level.

“There are very few who got to go to college and do something for the community one day,” he adds. “I want to do that for myself and for my generation.”

Police look for a person of interest related to a potential threat that forced the closure of the Mic Mac Mall on Tuesday.
Police look for a person of interest related to a potential threat that forced the closure of the Mic Mac Mall on Tuesday.
Police look for a person of interest related to a potential threat that forced the closure of the Mic Mac Mall on Tuesday.

AFP – OTTAWA-Police arrested two men and a woman in a raid Tuesday over a “potential threat” to a mall near Canada’s port city of Halifax, home to the navy’s Atlantic fleet.

It comes after security officials last month warned shoppers in Canada, the United States and Britain to be on guard after an Al-Qaeda-linked militant group posted a video calling for attacks on Western malls.

Halifax Police Constable Pierre Bourdages said a “heavy police presence” was dispatched to the Mic Mac Mall in the Halifax suburb of Dartmouth and the mall was closed for the day, although investigators said the threat had not been confirmed.

Officers raided a small bungalow in connection with the threat, but a suspect was absent and “no dangerous substances” or firearms were found, Bourdages told AFP.

A short time later, an apartment in another part of Halifax was raided and three people — two men and a woman — were taken into custody.
Police said they “have been actively investigating the matter to determine the validity of the threat and to this point no threat has been confirmed.”

The Al-Shabaab militant group last month specifically threatened the Mall of America in the US state of Minnesota, Canada’s massive West Edmonton Mall, London’s famous Oxford Street and two malls in France.

Also last month, an American woman and a Canadian man were arrested and charged with plotting a Valentine’s Day massacre at another mall in Halifax.

A third suspect was found dead at his parents’ home.

Heidelberg West residents Nadia Yusuf and Luul Jimale are worried about the desperate plight of their families left behind in Somalia if they are without money. Picture: David Smith.
Heidelberg West residents Nadia Yusuf and Luul Jimale are worried about the desperate plight of their families left behind in Somalia if they are without money. Picture: David Smith.

BANYULE’S Somali community is on tenterhooks with only weeks until the last remittance accounts — the only thing helping their families in Africa survive — are closed for good.

Herald Sun — The deadline comes as a report on the imminent threat to Somali remittance lifelines, Hanging by a threadwas released by Oxfam, Global Center on Co-operative Security and the African humanitarian organisation Adeso.

So far there have been no long-term solutions to come from the remittance working group or the Federal Government despite Westpac, the last of the big four banks offering the service, announcing it would close its connections to Somali transfer agencies on March 31.

The Heidelberg Leader previously reported the bank advised the remittance operators at the Bell St Mall it would close their accounts for good at the end of the month after a Federal Court hearing in December.

The banks have scrapped this service because of changing international regulations.

HAVE YOUR SAY: Should the Australian Government intervene to allow Banyule’s Somali community to send money back to struggling families? Tell us in the comment section below.

There are about 10,000 Somalis in Australia sending money to their families in Africa.

Heidelberg West residents Nadia Yusuf and Luul Jimale are worried about the desperate plight of their families left behind in Somalia if they are without money.

Mrs Yusuf came to live in Australia in 1996 and has been sending about $300 a month back to her family living in a refugee camp.

“They rely on me,” Mrs Yusuf said.

“They have nothing else to survive.”

Mrs Yusuf said the situation in the camps was dire, with limited water and a serious lack of food.

“They use the money to buy whatever they need — food, medicine, clothes.”

Mrs Jimale came to Australia alone as a refugee in 1994.

She was separated from her young children and sisters, who were left in Nairobi.

Mrs Jimale said she sent money back and was eventually able to get her children out of Africa by sponsoring them.

Now many of her brothers and sisters are dead but she supports her siblings’ children by sending them money when she can.

World of Difference

■ $1.3 billion in remittances is sent to Somalia each year (via money transfer organisations such as Dahab Shiil), accounting for between 25 and 45 per cent of the fragile country’s gross domestic product.

■ Somalia receives only $715 million in humanitarian aid annually.

■ The money provides a lifeline for many Somalis, covering the cost of food, clothing, health, shelter, education and business.

■ The lack of money flowing through to Somali families will greatly affect women who are the primary caregivers in their families.

■ Remittances are often the only money women are able to access and control, making them a vital tool for women’s economic empowerment and rights.

al franken

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) has joined eleven more Democrats in announcing that they won’t be attending Netanyahu’s speech to Congress. The total of Democrats who are not attending the speech has jumped to 53.

In a statement, Sen. Franken said, “This has unfortunately become a partisan spectacle, both because of the impending Israeli election and because it was done without consulting the Administration. I’d be uncomfortable being part of an event that I don’t believe should be happening. I’m confident that, once this episode is over, we can reaffirm our strong tradition of bipartisan support for Israel.”

al franken

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) also announced that he will be skipping the speech, “I do not plan to attend the prime minister’s speech. I’m concerned that behind it was a mischievous effort to manipulate domestic politics in both countries, which should not be the terms of engagement between friendly allies.”

Franken and Whitehouse join five other Democratic senators who are skipping the speech. Forty-six House Democrats are also skipping the speech. A few of the House Dems have other commitments, but the vast majority are not attending because of the way that Speaker Boehner and Prime Minister Netanyahu disrespected President Obama.

There are still dozens of House and Senate Democrats who have not made up their minds about attending the speech. If you member of Congress or Senators is not on the list below there is still time to contact them and express your position. Netanyahu’s speech has become a partisan affair, as the attempt to disrespect the president has backfired on both Boehner and Netanyahu as Democrats are staying away by the dozens.

Here is the fully updated list via The Hill of those who will not be attending:

HOUSE:

Rep. Karen Bass (Calif.)
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (Ore.)
Rep. Corrine Brown (Fla.)
Rep. G.K. Butterfield (N.C.)
Rep. Lois Capps (Calif.)
Rep. Andre Carson (Ind.)
Rep. Katherine Clark (Mass.)
Rep. Lacy Clay (Mo.)
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (Mo.)
Rep. James Clyburn (S.C.)
Rep. Steve Cohen (Tenn.)
Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.)
Rep. John Conyers (Mich.)
Rep. Danny Davis (Ill.)
Rep. Peter DeFazio (Ore.)
Rep. Diana DeGette (Colo.)
Rep. Lloyd Doggett (Texas)
Rep. Donna Edwards (Md.)
Rep. Keith Ellison (Minn.)
Rep. Chaka Fattah (Pa.)
Rep. Marcia Fudge (Ohio)
Rep. Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.)
Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (Ill.)
Rep. Denny Heck (Wash.)
Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (Texas)
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (Texas)
Rep. Marcy Kaptur (Ohio)
Rep. Barbara Lee (Calif.)
Rep. John Lewis (Ga.)
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (Calif.)
Rep. Betty McCollum (Minn.)
Rep. Jim McDermott (Wash.)
Reps. Jim McGovern (Mass.)
Rep. Jerry McNerney (Calif.)
Rep. Gregory Meeks (N.Y.)
Rep. Gwen Moore (Wis.)
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.)
Rep. Beto O’Rourke (Texas)
Rep. Chellie Pingree (Maine)
Rep. David Price (N.C.)
Rep. Charles Rangel (N.Y.)
Rep. Cedric Richmond (La.)
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (Ill.)
Rep. Bennie Thompson (Miss.)
Rep. Mike Thompson (Calif.)
Rep. John Yarmuth (Ky.)

SENATE:

Sen. Al Franken (Minn.)
Sen. Tim Kaine (Va.)
Sen. Patrick Leahy (Vt.)
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)
Sen. Brian Schatz (Hawaii)
Sen. Martin Heinrich (N.M.)
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.)

Malitia MaliMob don’t sympathize with those statue-smashing dickheads.
Malitia MaliMob don’t sympathize with those statue-smashing dickheads.
Malitia MaliMob don’t sympathize with those statue-smashing dickheads.

My Philosphy – Alot of people of my generation first heard of Somalia in the early 1990s, during its civil war. What I didn’t know was that Somalia is also known asthe Nation of Poets, where being slick with words and nice with language is an honored tradition, intrinsic to the people. Skilled poets hold prestigious roles within the culture, from the royal family on down.

Keeping that tradition alive in a new context is Malitia MaliMob, who I’d first heard of in early 2012 on a tip from Tendai Maraire of Shabazz Palaces/Chimurenga Renaissance. He’d come across the videos of this young crew of Seattle-based Somali rappers, clocking thousands of views, but more importantly, the comments from other young Malis, happy to have found rappers whose story they related to. I got to know that story a little better on tour with MMM, who were opening shows for Shabazz and THEESatisfaction across the US, getting unexpecting crowds rowdy off their brand of realness. You can check out MMM at their show at Barboza with Chimurenga Renaissance on Wednesday, March 4.

The main body of MMM—MCs Chino’o and Krown—met in the US after leaving behind the country, and the civil war, they’d always known. Chino’o told me they’d been rescued by men our news outlets call pirates. MMM’s first album, 2012′s Riots of the Pirates, made a big impression on me for its urgent take on gangsta rap, as seen through the latest iteration of the African diaspora. Their 2013 Idi Amin Project refined their aggressive approach with a heady trap edge and a deeper perspective—not to mention a fiercer delivery, especially in the gravelly no-love-and-no-fucks-given growl of Chino’o.

That voice anchors their newest release, which dropped back in January after a couple of years in the works—recording was complicated by the fact that Krown has been locked up in King County since 2013. Umm, the record is calledISIS. Sooo… why ISIS? No idea—but I know a certain Seattle rapper who once likened himself to Adolf Hitler, and Dipset gave a shout-out to Mohamed Atta. Also, closing track “I Am James Foley (RIP)” leads me to believe that MMM don’t sympathize with those statue-smashing dickheads, so let’s keep them and me off any lists, okay, Feds?

It is what it is, and MMM’s seven-track project is starving, unapologetic, born-to-die street-soldier rap with giant beats, fusing Chief Keef nihilism to M.I.A. globalism, plus some startling moments of clarity, adding up to what might well be the African immigrant Me Against the World. As with 2Pac, sleeping on MMM is sleeping on some of the deepest frustration in our streets. Do you sit on FB commenting on scary-ass status updates bemoaning “Somali gangbangers” on Pike Street while ignoring the fact that 300,000 of your neighbors can’t send money home anymore because of the war on terror? It’s all in the words of ISISgem “Perception”: Come ride wit’ us/Come smoke wit’ us/Come chill wit’ us/’Stead of sitting there, just judging us.

Liban Haji Mohamed

Liban Haji Mohamed

Reuters — A former Washington-area taxi driver who was on the FBI’s “Most Wanted Terrorists” list has been detained and is in the custody of the Somali government, a U.S. government source said on Monday.

The FBI in said in January it added Somali-born U.S. citizen Liban Haji Mohamed, 29, to its watch list because he allegedly provided support to the Somalia-based Islamist militant group al Shabaab.

The U.S. source said Mohamed was arrested several days ago by Somali authorities and was now in Somali custody, but it was not clear if or when he would be sent back to the United States. The Washington Post first reported on Monday that Mohamed had been detained in Somalia.

Mohamed lived in the northern Virginia suburbs near Washington and drove a taxi. He left the United States in 2012.

He was said at the time to be an associate of Zachary Chesser, an American who pleaded guilty in 2010 to threatening the writers of the television show “South Park.” (Reporting by Mark Hosenball and Emily Stephenson. Editing by Andre Grenon)

Jaamac is hosting a new television show called Somalis in Alberta which airs Sundays at 10:30 a.m. on Omni TV. Photograph by: Bruce Edwards, Edmonton Journal
Jaamac is hosting a new television show called Somalis in Alberta which airs Sundays at 10:30 a.m. on Omni TV. Photograph by: Bruce Edwards, Edmonton Journal
Jaamac is hosting a new television show called Somalis in Alberta which airs Sundays at 10:30 a.m. on Omni TV. Photograph by: Bruce Edwards, Edmonton Journal

Edmonton Journal – EDMONTON – People in Alberta’s Somali community will hear their own stories in their own voices on a Somali-language television news program airing Sundays, says the show’s host.

The half-hour Omni television show, called Somalis in Alberta, started in September. Organizers hope to expand the Somali-language program to an hour-long show, said Jaamac, 38, who does not use a last name. Somalis in Alberta is looking for a venue that could hold 60 to 80 people for a talk-show format, said Jaamac, who also hosts a radio show on CJSR called Somalis in Edmonton.

“It’s a kind of identity. Having your own radio and your own TV in the city means you live here. And it’s important for people to tell their story rather than hearing it from someone else,” Jaamac said. “The mainstream media covers (the community) mainly only when there’s a crisis, when there’s something negative happening … So telling successes and showcasing our own stories is something Somali media can do much better than the other media. Seeing ourselves talking about our own issues will be much more helpful.”

About six years ago, Edmonton’s Somali community was rocked by a string of murders that were in the news.

In January, three cousins from Edmonton’s Somali-Canadian community were reportedly killed while fighting overseas for ISIS last fall.

And a week ago, Edmonton police announced they are working with Somali-Canadians and other local Muslim groups to protect against terrorist attacks after a video from Somalia-based extremist group al-Shabaab threatened West Edmonton Mall.

Edmonton’s Somali community organized an event Sunday afternoon at the Central Lions Seniors Recreation Centre, 11113 113 St., to raise funds to support the new TV show and to celebrate the Somali radio show’s 10th anniversary.

Organizers hoped to raise about $20,000 for the Somalis in Alberta TV show, Jaamac said.

“In terms of the TV, this is the only Alberta-wide African TV, and this is the only Somali TV in Edmonton and Alberta,” Jaamac said. “And the radio, we are the only community-based show in the city.”

About 20,000 Somali Canadians live in Edmonton, and close to 35,000 in Alberta, said Jibril Ibrahim, president of the Somali Canadian Cultural Society of Edmonton. There are about 200,000 Somalis living in Canada, he said.

The society recently conducted a year-long research project and one of its findings was that Somali youth saw negative images of themselves portrayed in the media, Ibrahim.

“So one of the things we are planning to do is to showcase the good things that a lot of youth are doing, in terms of going to school and so on,” Ibrahim said. “So this kind of media could be used to increase the portrait of the successful youth and use that as a means of motivating other youth as well.”

Alberta’s Somali community has grown rapidly because of a strong economy that attracts workers, Bashir Ahmed, executive director of the Somali Canadian Education and Rural Development Organization.

Jaamac, who hosts the TV and radio shows as a volunteer, has been pushing for a long time to create a Somali TV show to connect the community, Ahmed said.

“He’s a great guy and he persisted,” Ahmed said. “We are very pleased now to have this kind of community TV.”

Somalis in Alberta airs Sundays at 10:30 a.m. on Omni TV and is rebroadcast Tuesdays at 11:30 a.m. and Thursdays at 8:30 a.m.

KENYA PARLIAMENT

KENYA PARLIAMENT

The Star – Police are on high alert following reports of a possible terror attack on Parliament.

Security has been heightened at all key government installations, said acting IG Samuel Arachi.

“We have deployed both static and mobile teams,” he said.

“The teams are backed up by more than 100 security staff attached to Parliament.”

Intelligence reports state that at least 12 terror suspects are behind the plot, Daily Nation said in an article on Monday.

Six of them are in Nairobi while the locations of the other six are unknown, the article said.

The attack was allegedly planned by Mohammed Mohamud, believed to head one of the arms of the al Shabaab militia group in Somalia.

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi confirmed that anti-terror measures have been taken.

“You see those dogs which security officers are moving around with? We brought them because of such threats. There is much more which we plan to do,” he said.

The reports come amid a request by the Embassy of Egypt for more security at all of its installations.

The request was made on February 20, the article said.

“The embassy kindly requests the relevant Kenyan authorities to take what it deems appropriate to upgrade and tighten security measures around Egyptian installations in Kenya,” the letter reportedly says.

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Screen shot 2015-03-03 at 2.54.43 AMMINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Some local immigrants say they, and their families, are being unfairly affected by an anti-terrorism effort.

Most banks that have helped east African immigrants wire money home are no longer doing that.  Some are afraid the money could end up in the hands of terrorist groups, such as al-Shabaab. But local immigrants said the hold on transfers could ruin the economy in places like Somalia.

Mustafe Abi spent Sunday going from money transfer store to money transfer store and is trying.

He’s been trying for weeks and he’ll try again.

“We try because they don’t have nothing,” Abi said.

Abi moved to the U.S. in 2006 from a refugee camp in Kenya. He goes to school and work here to support his mom and brother back home.

“Their school is not free, food is not free, they are not working, they don’t have income other places. It just depends on what I am sending them,” Abi said.

Now that most banks have stopped wring money to places like Somalia, it’s been trickier than ever.

Representative Keith Ellison said it’s a major problem among his constituents.

“I have tons of examples personally and specifically about people trying to get money to their loved ones,” Ellison said.

Ellison said he’s been trying to make that point in Washington, to encourage banks to allow the flow of small amounts of money to Somalia.

“We want to stop money from going to the terrorists but we don’t want to be so inflexible that we can’t get the money to the overwhelming majority of people,” Ellison said.

While most banks have decided to stop the transfers completely, he said a few are continuing to quietly help east Africans out. Abi said he’ll find one.

“My mom’s not getting anything for food, my brother’s not getting school, nothing. So money wire closing, I see it as death and life,” Abi said.

Ellison worries that al-Shabaab could gain momentum by stepping in and offering money to these families who aren’t getting it.  But the banks of course are backing out, afraid of fees and afraid of helping pass money to dangerous hands.

WCCO also spoke with Omar Jamal, a local Somali activist. He said he believes millions are being affected and he also thinks it could give al-Shabaab momentum.

STALEMATE CONTINUES ON HELPING SOMALI-AMERICANS WIRE MONEY

STALEMATE CONTINUES ON HELPING SOMALI-AMERICANS WIRE MONEY

Star Tribune (– It’s been exceedingly hard lately for Somali-Americans to wire cash back to families in their homeland after the main California-based bank that facilitated the bulk of the business halted Somalia transfers Feb. 7.

The bank stopped doing business in Somalia after the Treasury Department issued a cease-and-desist order last year because bank officials could not adequately prove all of the money being wired from the United States was going to legitimate sources.

Of the roughly 30,000 Twin Cities Somali-Americans, about 80 percent use money-service businesses to send money to the Horn of Africa, which is bereft of both a stable government and a banking system.

U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison and U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken are concerned that the issue is creating an even less stable environment — both at home and abroad — and that sending money is a net positive to come from America in a deeply troubled place ridden with terrorist organizations.

Trouble is, the politicians may have a hard time getting anywhere.

The senators, along with Ellison and a few other House members, fired off letters asking for meetings at the State Department so they could explain that a seemingly small banking problem has the potential of escalating into a larger diplomatic one.

“Is there any doubt that this situation is grave and getting graver?” said Ellison, a Democrat representing Minneapolis. He noted that 40 percent of Somalia’s gross domestic product comes from banking remittances from abroad. “Do we really want a situation where we have a fragile state and we pull the rug out from under them at a time like this?”

A meeting last week with eight federal agencies and departments — including State and Treasury and the Federal Deposit Insurance Commission — did not go well, according to members in the meeting. The National Security Council did not even attend the meeting.

There was little said that gave Ellison hope that the bureaucrats wanted to find a solution. “When we asked them who was in charge, nobody was,” Ellison said. “They all had a piece of it, but no one took institutional responsibility for figuring this out.”

Franken echoed the sentiment. “I was extremely frustrated,” he said in a e-mail. “Every federal agency representative told us that they are concerned, and yet no one came to the table with specific solutions to get remittances flowing again right away.”

Several agencies did not respond to requests for comment, though Bryan Hubbard, at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, said he would let the politicians talk.

“We don’t comment on our conversations with the members of Congress,” he said.

Ellison said he asked whether there were any legislative solutions, some measure they could pass, that could help solve the problem.

“They said nothing,” he said. “They literally stared back at us with blank expressions, with no proposals.”

Ellison and Franken vowed to push the Obama administration more on solving the crisis, but it’s unclear what they can do at this point.

“When Somalis in Minnesota can’t send money to their loved ones through legal, transparent channels, it strengthens terrorist groups like Al-Shabab,” Franken said. “This is a crisis and needs to be solved now.”

A group of Somali community leaders leave the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood for a solidarity lunch at Mall of America.

 

A group of Somali community leaders leave the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood for a solidarity lunch at Mall of America.
A group of Somali community leaders leave the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood for a solidarity lunch at Mall of America.

KMSP (MINNEAPOLIS) – The East African community of Minneapolis is coming together at the Brian Coyle Community Center to discuss how threats of terrorism and recruitment by al-Shabaab and ISIS are overshadowing the positive work of Somali-Americans and Muslim-Americans.
Community leaders will once again publicly condemn last weekend’s video from the al-Qaeda linked terror group al-Shabaab that called for attacks on Western shopping centers, and specifically Mall of America.

On Tuesday, a group left the Brian Coyle Center and boarded a light rail train to Mall of America, where they had lunch to prove “there is nothing to be afraid of.” Somali community leader Omar Jamal believes al-Shabaab is desperate to use scare tactics like the video to divide Muslims and Somalis in the United States.

“I’d like to tell Minnesotans, do not fall for this propaganda from the al-Shabaab machine,” Jamal said. “It is not going to work. All they’re looking for is attention.”

Statement from Somali-American leaders in Minnesota (Feb. 23)

“The safety and security of Minnesotans and of all Americans is of utmost importance to Somali-Americans. We condemn all forms of terrorism or threats of terrorism, repudiate any individual or group that would carry out such attacks or make such threats and remain committed to being at the forefront of defeating religious or political extremism. While remaining vigilant, we must not allow a terror group to achieve its goal of spreading fear or panic. We must also prevent justifiable security concerns from being used as a pretext to promote hatred, prejudice and suspicion of the whole community. As a nation, we are better prepared and more united when we all work together to keep our communities safe.”

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Insight News – The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office released a new video aimed at strengthening relationships between law enforcement and the Somali community. The video discusses the public safety responsibilities of the Sheriff’s Office, opportunities for community members to connect with the Sheriff’s Office, and describes the Sheriff’s Community Engagement Team (CET). The video is approximately six minutes long and the narration is in the Somali language.

Screen shot 2015-03-01 at 2.43.37 AM“Hennepin County is very diverse, and we recognize the need to be reflective of the multicultural communities we serve. This video allows us to share our message in a manner that is culturally specific so that we can continue to build trust and positive relationships in the Somali community,” says Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek.

The CET will utilize the video at community gatherings, roundtable discussions, citizen’s academies, and other events. In the video, Sheriff Stanek introduces the CET and explains the importance of ongoing outreach efforts in order to address public safety concerns and build trust. The Sheriff’s Office East-African Liaison, Abdi Mohammed, describes the role of law enforcement, current issues affecting the Somali community, and how residents can effectively partner with the Sheriff’s Office to reduce crime.

Hennepin County is home to nearly 100,000 Somali, and 40,000 Oromo residents.

The CET was established in 2010, and is responsible for partnering with community organizations and law enforcement agencies to improve outreach efforts within Hennepin County. The CET attends community gatherings and celebrations, they respond to citizen requests for assistance, and also promote diversity recruitment efforts for the Sheriff’s Office. Since its inception, the CET has become a model program for agencies worldwide.

minneapolis MSP 1

KMSP-TV

minneapolis MSP 1ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) – He had a one-way ticket to Somalia, but he never made it past the security checkpoint at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Zaki Mohammed Sugule was arrested at the airport on Presidents’ Day, acting suspiciously. According to airport police, the 39-year-old was traveling with a fake Somali passport — the wrong color, poorly laminated and name misspelled. Sugule told police he was trying to self-deport himself out of the United States in order to “turn his life around.”

Fox 9 has learned federal agents became concerned because in his pocket was the name and address of a contact in Syria, raising the fear Sugule may have been attempting to fly to Somalia to fight for al-Shabaab, or perhaps would attempt to reach Syria to fight for ISIS.

Another East African man — who we are not identifying — was arrested the same day for traveling with false documents, and it’s unknown if the two were traveling together.

Several people who knew Sugule say he was known as the local drunk or inebriant. They can’t imagine he would planning to fight for ISIS or al-Shabaab. They just don’t think he’s competent enough.

Sugule has been arrested more than 40 times in the last decade for assault, disorderly conduct, and terroristic threats. At the Starbucks in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood last year, he threatened to kill people with a drill bit. He has a habit of sucker punching people at random, and once used a piece of broken glass to slash someone across the face.

Airport police arrested Sugule last week on five outstanding warrants, and a few days ago, a judge sentenced him to 1.5 years in prison. Ominously, Sugule told airport police, according to the report, “after he cleared up his warrants he would be coming back again to leave the U.S.”

minneapolis MSP 1

Anwar Hared grew up playing hockey in Canada, which instantly made him the star of the rookie bandy team cobbled together among the expat Somali community in Sweden.
Anwar Hared grew up playing hockey in Canada, which instantly made him the star of the rookie bandy team cobbled together among the expat Somali community in Sweden.
Anwar Hared grew up playing hockey in Canada, which instantly made him the star of the rookie bandy team cobbled together among the expat Somali community in Sweden.

Toronto Star – In Newmarket, Anwar Hared was just another minor league hockey player: average, albeit enthusiastic. In Khabarovsk, a sprawling city in Russia’s frigid Far East, the 18-year-old solidified his position as the star of Somalia’s national bandy team.

“I’ve never had a better trip in my life,” Hared says from his parents’ Newmarket home. “Once you put the flag on your chest, it’s a fight to the death.”

Hared just returned home from the 35th Bandy World Championship in Khabarovsk, which runs through March.

Don’t know what bandy is? Think ice hockey with a ball instead of a puck, on a rink the size of a soccer field. Popular in the Nordic and former Soviet states, this fast-paced sport is dominated by Russia and Sweden.

In five games, Hared’s team scored three goals and allowed 63 on net, putting them dead last out of 17 teams. But consider that three years ago, Hared was the only member of the team who knew how to skate. All of them, Hared says, had the time of their lives in Russia.

“Most of my teammates were born in Somalia,” Hared says. “99 per cent of them have experienced the trauma of war.”

“Just to see the players participate in a world cup . . . was great,” team manager Cia Embretsen says. “The players were treated as heroes and idols.”

The unlikely story of Somalia’s national bandy team begins in late 2012 in Borlänge, Sweden, an industrial town 200 km northwest of Stockholm. Fleeing war and poverty, Somalis now number roughly 3,000 out of Borlänge’s population of over 40,000. As elsewhere in Europe, an influx of African and Middle Eastern migrants has sparked an upsurge in far-right politics in this historically liberal state.

Contemplating this, local businessman Patrik Andersson got it in his head that bandy would be the perfect way to bring Swedes and Somalis together. The Federation of International Bandy, the sport’s governing body, and Somalia’s Ministry of Youth and Sports loved the idea. Players — mostly teens and twenty-somethings who were born in Somalia — were drawn from a local Somali soccer team, and spent nearly a year training before the 34th Bandy World Championship in January 2014.All of this, however, was happening unbeknown to Hared.

Hared’s parents left their beleaguered nation for Canada five years before their son was born. Like many Canadians, Hared grew up playing hockey.

In late 2013, he got a call from a family friend in Sweden.

Soft-spoken, with a broad, easy smile, Hared laughs at the memory. “They asked me if I wanted to play bandy…I’d never even heard of the sport.”

Hared, of course, said yes. The friend contacted the team. They were thrilled: a Canadian ringer! In less than three weeks, Hared, a Grade 12 student at the time, found himself on a plane to Sweden. He spent one day practising with his new teammates and then flew to Russia for their first international tournament.

Those first games were both rough and fun. The players, still wobbly on their skates, kept wiping out as they dashed madly after the ball. But they played with heart. Hared managed to score the team’s first ever goal: a brilliant five-hole shot, right between a German goalkeeper’s legs. Somalia would go on to lose that game 22-1. The team only managed to score three goals in the 2014 tournament. Two of them were Hared’s.

“I don’t want to be cocky or anything,” Hared says sheepishly, “but they think I’m the team’s offensive weapon.”

Emretsen, one of the team’s managers, agrees.

“Anwar was the team’s star and a great asset… both on and off the ice,” she says.The team lost all of their games in 2014, finishing dead last behind a Winnipeg-based Canadian team that did not compete in 2015. This year, Hared was back in Russia for the team’s second international tournament, scoring one goal in a bout against China.

“I’d say that was my best game.”

Fans and other players were nothing but encouraging, Hared says. Spectators, he says, cheered disproportionately for the Somali underdogs, and the team even attracted a group of diehard Russian superfans who followed them wherever they’d go. They did, however, get more than a few curious looks in Khabarovsk.

“A lot of them had never seen African people before,” Hared laughs. “We had to pose for a lot of photos.”

A first-year economics student at Queen’s University, Hared says most of his peers have no idea what he’s been up to in Russia. Humble to the core, he says he’d like to keep it that way. In Somalia, however, he’s become something of a minor celebrity — the Facebook friend requests don’t stop. Hared even features prominently in a documentary about the Somali bandy team called Trevligt Folk (or “Nice People” in English) currently playing in Swedish cinemas.

Hared dreams of being able to help rebuild the country his parents fled, as a development worker, and plans to take his first trip to Somalia this summer. He’ll also be front and centre on the ice for the 36th Bandy World Championship in 2016.

“Obviously, a championship is out of the question, but we’d love to win a game next year,” he says.

“I want people to realize that despite the war, good things do happen in Somalia.”

BANDY AT A GLANCE

A bright pink ball replaces a puck in this fast-paced sport, usually played outdoors on ice the size of a soccer field (about four times the size of an NHL rink). Teams field 10 players and a stickless goalkeeper who has to use his body and gloved hands to stop balls travelling upwards of 150 km/h from entering a net 2.1 metres high and 3.5 metres wide — more than three times the size of those used by the NHL. Players use hooked sticks and usually play two halves of 45 minutes each. Rules are similar to ice hockey, though most physical contact is banned.

Bandy might seem obscure, but hundreds of thousands of amateurs play in Russia and Nordic nations. Championship games in Russian and Swedish leagues can attract tens of thousands of spectators, and players can even net six-figure salaries.

Bandy’s rules were formalized in Britain in the late 19th century. As hockey spread across North America in the same period, bandy took root in Eastern Europe. It quickly became a national sport in Russia, where it’s sometimes known as “Russian hockey” (as opposed to “Canadian hockey”). Our version of hockey only took off in Russia in the mid 20th century. Soviet athletes soon excelled at the sport, thanks to their years playing on bandy’s oversized rinks.

Bandy was a demonstration sport in the 1952 Winter Olympics in Oslo, Norway. Russia had lobbied to have it included in the 2014 Sochi Games, but their bid failed because too few nations actually play the sport.

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Screen shot 2015-02-27 at 12.19.39 AMABC6 – 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.

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