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Kenya counter-terror work creates abuses, rights group says

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Friday March 17, 2017

Kenya's General Service Unit (GSU) policemen watch over youths protesting the killing of Muslim cleric Aboud Rogo Mohammed in the Kenyan coastal city of Mombasa, August 31, 2012. REUTERS

Kenya's security agencies are violating privacy rights in counter-terrorism operations and the information acquired is used to commit human rights abuses, including targeted killings, an international human rights group says.

Information gathered from phone intercepts and other means is carried out essentially without oversight, contravening procedures required by law, the London-based Privacy International said in a report released Wednesday.

The National Intelligence Service makes phone intercepts and provides the information to police, who obtain clearance to monitor targets. Information obtained through surveillance is central to the identification, pursuit and "neutralization," or killing, of suspects, the report says.

"Telecommunications operators end up handing over their customers' data because they largely feel that they cannot decline agencies' requests, in part due to the vagueness in the law," the report says.

"Several telecommunications operators spoke of the threat, either direct or implicit, that their licenses would be revoked if they failed to comply," it says.

Kenyan authorities declined to comment.

Kenya has experienced frequent extremist attacks since it sent troops to neighboring Somalia in 2011 to help fight al-Shabab.

Privacy International said it interviewed three intelligence officers, seven military officers and 22 police officers. Of those interviewed, 17 are in active duty and 15 recently left service.

This is the latest report on alleged abuses in Kenya's counter-terrorism efforts.

Recent reports by rights groups Haki Africa, Human Rights Watch and the government's human rights commission have found that dozens of Kenyans suspected of links to extremist groups have been victims of enforced disappearances, and some have been found executed.

Kenya holds presidential elections in August, and a proposed $19 million project by the government regulator Communications Authority of Kenya to monitor radio frequencies and social media platforms and "manage devices" is viewed by some as a way to spy on Kenyans or control communications during the vote.

The government has said the project would help prevent a repeat of the violence after the 2007 election that killed more than 1,000 people.

Analysis: Al Shabab’s Resurgence

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Thursday March 16, 2017
By Joshua Meservey

Al Shabab, the al Qaeda affiliate that has bedeviled the East African country of Somalia for a decade, is currently enjoying its most successful run of attacks in years against the Somali government. Since mid-August alone, the group has killed a number of high-ranking officials, including a senior intelligence officer, a district commissioner, and a general in the national army. Its intensified assault on the government comes in the middle of an electoral process that inaugurated a new parliament in December and is scheduled to bring a new president this month.

Disrupting the electoral process is consistent with an old al Shabab strategy of discrediting any competing sources of authority and legitimacy. However, something new is afoot as well: al Shabab has escalated its attacks in the north of Somalia this year, outside its preferred southern area of operations. The group’s history and ideology suggest the campaign is likely to accelerate once the electoral process finishes. There are a number of worrisome consequences of a northward lunge by al Shabab, the worst of which would be a renewal of ties with the Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), historically the al Qaeda affiliate most focused on attacking the United States.

The change in al Shabab’s previously desultory approach to the north became clear in March 2016, when it landed as many as 600 fighters on the shores of the semiautonomous northern region of Puntland. The ultimately ill-fated campaign was an unprecedented investment of manpower outside al Shabab’s southern stronghold, where it once had dominion over nearly a third of the country. Its presence in the north had previously been mostly confined to a small militia based in the Galgala Mountains region.

The Puntland attack was just the start. In March and April, Puntland security services broke up an al Shabab cell in Garowe, and al Shabab attacked the towns of Beledweyne, Bosaso, Galkayo, and Garad—even briefly capturing the latter—all of which are outside the area in which the group usually operates. In late November, the group killed four pro-government soldiers with a roadside bomb near Bosaso, and in August it launched the deadliest terror attack ever in Puntland, when two suicide car bombs ripped into local government buildings in Galkayo, killing nearly 30 and wounding almost 90 people.

Al Shabab’s northward play makes sense for several reasons. It is being squeezed in the south by the various forces arrayed against it, and could be looking for an escape valve. Al Shabab is in no danger of being militarily defeated in the south anytime soon, but it is natural for such a canny group to hedge its bets.

There is also the matter of Abdiqadir Mumin, the senior al Shabab religious leader based in Puntland, who declared allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS) along with a small number of fighters in October 2015. Despite repeated overtures from ISIS, the rest of al Shabab has remained fiercely loyal to al Qaeda, hunting down anyone within its ranks suspected of ISIS sympathies. Mumin’s band emerged from hiding in October to seize Qandala, a port town in Puntland, for over a month. Al Shabab wants him dead, a task that will require a stronger presence in the area.


The most concerning consequence of al Shabab moving north, however, would be any renewal of its friendship with AQAP. Although the details are unclear, Al Shabab’s links with its associates across the Gulf of Aden extend back to at least 2010. In 2011, the United States captured a high-ranking al Shabab operative named Ahmed Warsame as he was leaving Yemen in a skiff. Warsame had close links with Anwar al-Awlaki, an American terrorist who was AQAP’s most senior and effective propagandist. In 2012, al Shabab reportedly sent 300 fighters to receive training and to fight with AQAP in its war against the Yemeni government. The increasing sophistication over the years of al Shabab’s explosives may be the fruit of that collaboration.

The relationship between al Shabab and AQAP appears to have weakened after both groups suffered significant military setbacks in their respective countries. However, the civil war between Iranian-backed Houthi rebels and a Saudi-led military coalition that has gripped Yemen since 2015 has been a boon for AQAP. It took advantage of the chaos to rapidly expand, at one point controlling nearly 400 miles of Yemeni coastline and the country’s third-largest port, Makalla, from which it derived as much as $2 million per day in taxes. At that time, it also freed more than 100 of its jailed members—including senior leader Khaled Batarfi—and seized huge amounts of weaponry from a government depot.

The Saudi-led coalition eventually drove AQAP from Makalla, and it has lost ground in other parts of the country as well. Yet it still controls significant chunks of Yemen, and the group’s long-term prospects are good as the stalemated civil war ensures the sort of violent instability off of which AQAP feeds. The Yemeni group is likely to remain an attractive partner for al Shabab for the foreseeable future.

A renewed relationship between al Shabab and AQAP would make it easier to move materiel and men back and forth and for each group to share its expertise with the other. This is the sort of cooperation that has strengthened terror organizations throughout the world. Boko Haram in West Africa (now an ISIS affiliate), for example, began as an unremarkable militia. Yet the training that some of its fighters received from al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and al Shabab helped it transform into one of the world’s deadliest terrorist organizations that routinely humiliated the Nigerian army and conquered chunks of Northeast Nigeria.

A longer-term possibility is that a stronger friendship between AQAP and al Shabab could influence the latter to invest some of its energies into global jihad. Al Shabab has historically shown little interest in attacking what al Qaeda dubbed the Far Enemy, apart from occasionally and unsuccessfully calling for lone-wolf attacks in the United States. It is for now preoccupied with fighting a regional war, and there is no indication it is rethinking its strategy.

Yet elements of al Shabab’s leadership have always been sympathetic to internationalist terrorist goals, and many of its founders fought in the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan. Al Shabab’s steadfast loyalty to al Qaeda signals at least tacit acceptance of the latter’s internationally focused brand of terrorism. Attacking Western targets, specifically the United States, has been a pillar of al Qaeda’s strategy since the early 1990s.

Al Qaeda generally struggles to get its affiliates to look beyond their local wars, yet AQAP has adopted al Qaeda’s internationalism with gusto. In 2009, the group just missed killing the deputy interior minister of Saudi Arabia in Jeddah using a man with explosives hidden in his body. AQAP was behind failed attacks on airlines bound for the United States in 2009 and 2010, as well as the January 2015 attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris.

It is likely no coincidence that in 2011 when al Shabab was closer to AQAP than it is now, at least several al Shabab leaders were plotting attacks against Europe. The group has extensive networks throughout East Africa, and there are many inviting Western targets there should al Shabab decide to prioritize a broader jihad. Al Shabab also once attracted the support of scores of Europeans and Americans. The longer the feckless Somali government disappoints its citizens and the longer foreign troops fighting al Shabab remain in Somalia, the more the level of appeal al Shabab holds for foreign fighters is likely to rebound. That would open up opportunities for al Shabab to directly strike Western countries, something beyond its current capacity.

AQAP and al Shabab do not appear to have yet rebuilt ties, and al Shabab is preoccupied with disrupting Somalia’s electoral process. Expect al Shabab’s northern activities to continue, however, once the distraction of the electoral process has faded, and particularly if AQAP continues to revive. Now is the best time to nip a reunion in the bud, which will require vigilance and determination in both Somalia and Yemen.
*Joshua Meservey is a Policy Analyst, Africa and the Middle East at the Heritage Foundation.

Al-Shabab Is using Somalia’s hunger crisis to win support

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Monday March 13, 2017
By Gilad Shiloach

The UN is urging the international community to take action to save people in East Africa from “starving to death”

The al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabab is taking advantage of Somalia’s hunger crisis to improve its image and bolster support, even as it has been blamed for destabilizing the African nation and neighboring countries. The UN has said the world faces its largest food shortage in decades. Al-Shabab, which has blocked access to aid and has stolen food, has released pictures allegedly showing its militants distributing food and water to thousands of families in the drought-stricken areas in south and central Somalia under its control.

Shahada News Agency, one of al-Shabab’s propaganda wings, posted last week that the terror group has “invested many efforts” to help the local population overcome the drought and boasted of supplying thousands of families with humanitarian aid.
Last week, pictures purporting to show al-Shabab militants distributing sacks of flour, sugar, rice and cooking oil to local citizens were also posted. On Saturday, other images showed the militants arriving with trucks loaded with water tanks bearing their flags, giving water to locals.

Al-Shabab, translated in Arabic into “The Youth”, is al-Qaeda’s branch in Somalia that imposes a strict version of Sharia law in areas under its control. It also aims to win hearts and minds by providing basic needs to the local population, presenting itself as an alternative to the Somali government in Mogadishu, a regime it has been fighting for over a decade.

On Friday the UN urged the international community to act to save people from “starving to death,” saying “we are facing the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the UN.” The organization’s Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien warned that “the current indicators mirror the tragic picture of 2011, when Somalia last suffered a famine.” He said more than half of Somalia’s 6.2 million population needs aid, with 2.9 million of whom require immediate assistance.

Al Shabaab top leader Hussein Mukhtar surrenders to Somali army

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Wednesday March 8, 2017

Top al Shabaab leader Hussein Mukhtar on Tuesday surrendered to the Somali National Army in Baidoa.

The African Union Mission in Somalia termed Mukhtar's decision courageous and urged other fighters in the terror group to surrender to authorities.
"Amisom hopes that other sons and daughters of Somalia who have been misled into terrorist acts will [emulate Mukhtar]," the mission said via Twitter.

"[They should] lay down their weapons and join other Somalis in rebuilding their country," it added, noting the government had offered amnesty.

The insurgency in Somalia wants to topple the government and impose its own strict interpretation of Islam.

Al Shabaab ruled most of south-central Somalia until 2011 when it was driven out of Mogadishu by African Union troops.

Despite the loss of territory, the terror group still carries out major gun and bomb attacks against nations that have contributed troops to Amisom.
On March 2, Kenya said its forces had killed 57 militants in a battle in southern Somalia but the group denied any of its fighters had died in the clash.

Kenya Defence Forces spokesman Colonel Joseph Owuoth said the ambush took place 31 kilometres northwest of Afmadow at 8.45am.

He said the troops used artillery and helicopter gunships against the militants
In January, al Shabaab fighters attacked a Kenyan military base in the southern Somali town of Kulbiyow near the border.

KDF said nine soldiers died, while al Shabaab said it killed at least 66.
Somalia has been torn apart by civil war since 1991 and now a drought threatens to tip the Horn of Africa nation into famine.

Last month parliamentarians elected a new president who vowed to stamp out al Shabaab.

How to fall in love in a failed state

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Idilay Bilan
Tuesday March 7, 2017

“These label you shove in my faces like …’Qurba-joog’, ‘ Feminist’, ‘African” “Wadani”, don’t mean fucking shit here. Here you wear only one label; the one your father wore, his father, and his father before him. No one gives a shit if you don’t believe in ‘clans’-the clan believes in you, because it made you. Every identity you flaunt before your kin is words you learned in the white man’s school books. In the classrooms of the white man you burden, who took you in, after ‘they’ chased you out. My dear, these labels are nothing but clean shirts worn over the letters embalmed in your chest. If you remove each layer of shirt, and lay bare your ungrateful flesh; You will find only four letters: SSDF. That is your bloodline and your nucleus, a bloody fucking Majerteen. You will do well to remember that, as it will be that nucleus that will save you when all other labels fail you.”
A soldier in Kismayo, November 14th 2014
Today is my first year wedding anniversary, which i only repeat because Facebook was gracious enough to remind loving friends, who woke me this morning with verbal vignettes of this event, one year ago.
I was reminded how deeply i love the commemoration of significant dates, and how friends and family in the era of oversharing observe, review, and reflect on sentimental data on their special days. Unfortunately, my husband and I both lack the sentimental gene, and will spare my social media friends parochial and tender paragraphs we only care about, as most will indulge me out of polite guilt and customary solidarity.
Instead, I’m penning the prose you find titled above. A title inspired by a close friend’s quip that I had “fallen in love in a failed state, you owe Somalia taxes now!”. I won’t overwhelm you with long-winded details of our courtship, as personal recollections of insignificant events are only interesting if Trump is tweeting it.
But I’ll start at the beginning, as I begin to piece together how our intimate love stories, promising friendships, and budding unions across geographic and clan lines are a necessary component of Somalia’s recovery. That personal relationships, irregardless of their particular make-up matter when rebuilding Somalia.
On a cool Mogadishu night, three friends, myself, and my now-husband gathered for what was to become a contender for the, ‘most awkward first date in the history of Somali love’. Somalis (ugh..forgive me, here come the generalities) dating norms usually consist of unions formed through our familial networks, and close friends. My cousin, who also served as my husband’s then neighbour, was our mutual connect, the opening sentence of our courtship.
Dates here are often in group settings, where new parochial ties are formed, and ours was no different. We met at my cousin’s restaurant, where close friends joined us for our customary weekend shenanigans-largely composed of violent debates, bashing of governments, highly inappropriate clan jokes, and the naive assembling of blueprints and treatises on how each one of us would ‘fix’ the perpetual problem-child; Somalia.
‘It’s the bloody Wahhabis, once we we drone the shit out of these cretins, Somalia will be restored to her glory days,’ declares a guest of my cousins, who I’ll call Hussein. My now-husband, visibly annoyed by this reductionist interference leans in his chair, visibly invested in the missing links and echoes of Hussein’s arguments.
‘Siyaad Barre was the last statesman this cursed land will ever see, and you negros are still suffering for it. And the treachery of Hawiye, the manipulative political aspirations of Majerteen (Hussein points at me accusingly), and the delusions of grandeur on the part of the Isaaq is why we have an enviable coastline doubled-up as training camp for half-wit Islamists, instead of being the Pearl of Africa, we once were. SNM, SSDF, and USC is why the whole world wants to push us into the sea”
He finishes with his invasive voice, now evolved into a stream of absolutist truth claims and exclamation marks. My now-husband, trying to conceal his frustration, replies, “ Hussein, it’s Hussein right? What do you mean the treachery of Hawiye? you mean USC. What’s the treachery we’re guilty of? overthrowing a megalomaniac?”

“Yup, USC, the United Sociopaths Committee. They’re guilty of widespread looting and setting us back three decades”, Hussein proudly rebutted.
“Ok now you’re throwing insults around, let’s have a civil discussion. Caadi iska dhig”, the cousin interjecting, always the perpetual fence-sitter and resident peace-maker. Normally I hate how he takes the complacent, UN Security Council route in these decisions, but today, I was thankful. Arm-chair pontificating amongst Somalis is a dangerous sport where feelings are hurt and dreams lost.
“What’s with the emotional attachment to USC, that era predates us, who cares if he insults them. It’s just banter”. I joke
“Because that’s my family he’s calling a union of psychos” he retorted, skeptical of my efforts to silence his concerns.
In our initial introductions, during the ‘let’s make sure we’re not cousins’ phase, consisting of interrogations about one’s clan, designed to prevent one from unwittingly courting one’s own cousin, I came to know he was of the Habar Gidir clan, and I, Majerteen. Two details that make little difference to our material lives, but continue to be premise of many jokes, yet nothing prepared for me the conversation that came next.
“Btw bro, Habar Gidir ya ka tahay?” my friend Awil asked.

Ahhh…..it now all made sense. “So you’re a USC sire, no wonder you were annoyed with Hussein”. I uncomfortably joked, hoping to defuse the climatic air in the room.
Hussein is now reduced to silence, awkwardly shifting in his chair, fearful his comments may have offended someone with a standing army.
“Yeah, I’ve never mentioned it, but my father is …….”.
*Everyone gasps*, deafening silence invades the room like Ethiopia given the ‘get those Somalis’ green light.
I won’t disclose my father-in-law’s name, or his family, but distinctly recall announcing to my father,
“Aabo, remember I told you about the young man who wants to marry me. Yeah, him…. remember how i told you he’s Habar
“Yes…..and……” my dad pausing for the plot twist to unveil itself.
“Well, he’s Sacaad”
“Oh. Hahahahhaa….Oh boy. Leave it to my mooryan Umar Maxamud kid to find a Sacaad boy in Xamar, the Tom & Jerry of Somalia can’t just leave each-other alone huh”, he guffaws, with a hint of relief, as if expecting I was about to reveal I was infact betrothed to the leader of Al-Shabab.
“Wait, I’m not done. UMM…..ok….Do you remember the film Black Hawk Down? well, maybe his family was kinda of a subject of those events in the film, and well, it’s that family. maybe…sort of…”.
Silence on the other side of the phone in Gaalkayco.
“Dad, are you there? say something? I thought qabil meant nothing to you?” I pleaded, hoping to advance my guilt trip before he has an opportunity to betray his true feelings about this situation.
My dad laughed.
“I know that family. you’re commitment to political drama is awe-inspiring. Honestly, this will not be easy for you, as your beloved’s family is kinda the antagonist in the story of Darood. Abo, marry him. And may Allah give you a child that inherits the political cunningness of your kin, and the bravery of his, and thats unite the two most problematic clans in Somalia. I give you my blessing. You’ll need it”. He laughs again.
My father left me with words I needed to write down that very moment, so I never forget my ancestors and sires; majestic Somali men, critical thinkers, who despite centuries-old cultural conditioning, were committed to a belief in a world where love is the silencer of competing political histories.
As my father foreshadowed, war had come to Gaalkayco. Our wedding date, yielded to the political ambitions of politicians who sent young men to die by the dozens. Our wedding plans sporadically pausing to answer the phone calls filled with feverish and urgent updates from displaced relatives.
“Wallahi Habar Gidir will never change, the perpetual shit-starters. These people are the god-damn Wildings from Game of Thrones. Galkayco looks like 1991 over again. Can’t believe you’re about force them as our in-laws. Idil you’re so fucking naive”, a distant cousin complains, rolling my eyes at his nascent effort to re-direct blame, while basked in victimhood.
“ Puntland is gonna learn today we’re not the ones to play with”, a Commander complains to my husband, as we sat in a restaurant, sipping on watermelon nectar and naive hope. A waiter overhears us discussing this, and interrupts…
“Cursed Majerteens and Habar Gidir, Somalia will never rest till we put both of you to sleep. What the hell is in Galkayco worth fighting over? Bloody Reer-mudug, the cancer of Somalia. Someone should deport you guys to Middle East, where you’ll never run out of reasons to fight”.
We both laughed. We knew he was right.
“You know this marriage won’t work if your clan annihilates my clan right?” I joked. I was half-kidding.
“I know”, he sighed. His sighs reeking of a man in love with the enemy, with little interest in reviving old wars, burdened with the load his last name carries, and overwhelmed by the men that turn to him for answers to the questions emerging in a, ‘post’-conflict Somalia.
Our pending union became the punchline for my circle of friends, who declared that our wedding should occur in the green zone in Gaalkayco city that divides our clans. Their jokes answered, when one year ago, my now-husband, met with my father, at the green-zone of Gaalkayco.
Tense soldiers, atop armoured technicals pointing at their equivalents behind the line. I was married in a green zone.
So this brings me to the events of precisely one year ago, the wedding of two people, who only represented their formed identities, but stand for labels older than our nation state. As the late night hours waited for the sun to light Mogadishu, we danced. An impromptu after-party celebration, housed all our loved ones doing every traditional dance found in the shores from Zaylac to Ras Kamboni.
I sat in an uneventful corner to let my feet recover from the afrobeat tunes, and watched my friends and beloved dance. I thought back to the comments that angered me once in Kismayo. A wounded and tired soldier, at odds with a changing Somalia in theory, but still living amongst it’s ghosts of yesteryear. I was chastised for rejecting my clan, and declaring ‘I don’t believe in tribalism”, what i now see as the equivalent of ‘All Lives Matter’ rhetoric.
He was right. I am my clan. And the real work of reconciliation isn’t palms placed heavily atop obtuse eyes, feigning political blindness, but owning the histories of our ancestors, both their pain and crimes.
To heal means doing the difficult work of confronting, listening, and unclothing on a table, all the things we burned together. To wash aside the folks who won’t let go, is to let discontent, injustice and grudges slow cook till we repeat the anniversary dates of our failures; 1969, 1988, 1991, 2006. That young man taught me the fault lines in empty denouncements of one’s clan, and the necessary work is to dissect it, inform it, critique it, heal it, educate it, engage it, rewrite it.
I wish I had some grandiose philosophical exclamation point about the healing powers of love and embracing other clans, and riding off into our polluted sunset, but I don’t because I’m from the Mudug region, where our hearts are made of glass and lion tears. But I do know that one year ago, in Mogadishu, in the early hours of a smouldering hot March morning, Some Darood heads, a few Hawiye coordinated feet,two Rahan-weyn hips, and .5 hands, danced and bobbed, and laughed in celebration of a brief and massively insignificant moment in Mogadishu’s history; Two children of war falling in love in our beloved, messy, frustrating, heart-aching, and complex and the world’s favourite failed state. 

The rise and fall of the Islamic caliphate in history

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Monday March 6, 2017

Shahzade Abdülmecid Efendi is seen on a horse as he goes to Friday prayer. (1923)

The successors of Prophet Muhammad, who was the head of the Islamic state, were called "caliphs," a term translated as "successor" in English. Starting from the 11th century, various states were established on the lands the Muslims ruled, from the Atlantic Ocean to deep inside China and the authority of the caliph became symbolic in these countries.
After that, the caliph had the same status with the emperors in the European empires, while the sultans governing these Islamic states were much like kings and princes under the rule of the emperor.
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When Baghdad was taken by the Mongols in 1258, the Abbasid Caliphate continued its existence in Cairo. In truth, the power was in the hands of the sultans nominally loyal to the caliph. The caliph became a spiritual symbol that reminded the Muslims of the golden days of Islamic unity. Upon the conquest of Egypt by the Ottoman Sultan Selim I, the title of the caliph was passed down to the Ottoman sultans and the title regained its old authority.
The office of the caliphate stated that the Ottoman sultans were also the "leaders of the Muslim World." The Shaybanids in Turkistan, the Gujarat Sultanate in India (1536), the Mughal Empire from the reign of Humayun (1548), Iran (1727), the Morocco Sultanate (1579) and the Kasghar State (1868) all announced that they recognized the Ottoman sultan as the Muslim caliph.
Muslims who traveled from Turkistan through Caucasia for hajj did not miss the chance to visit Istanbul and make their Friday prayers with the caliph.

A delicate diplomacy

The Ottoman sultans began to place sacred importance to the title of caliph in the following centuries. Starting from the 18th century, when lands heavily populated by the Muslims like Crimea were taken from the Ottomans, this aspect of the Ottoman sultan became official. To protect the religious and material interest of the Muslims living in these lands, the Ottoman sultan laid his claims to be a spiritual authority which the rest of the world had to accept.

Following the Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca (1774), which was signed after the Ottoman defeat in the Russo-Turkish War, the spiritual power of the sultan over the Muslims living in the former Ottoman lands were established. Hence, the Ottoman sultans who previously held material power over their subjects had assumed a spiritual role powered by the caliph similar to Pope's power over the Catholics.
Sultan Abdülhamid II in particular laid weight on this status, believing that it helped the political unity of Islam. He sent books, scholars and built madrasahs in Muslim regions that were under occupation. Hence, the Muslims who were in captivity turned their faces to Istanbul. The caliph in Istanbul maintained the Muslim desire for unity and independence alive, even with his political power restricted.

Britain in state of fear

Muftis and qadis (Muslim judges) assigned from Istanbul continued services in former Ottoman lands, such as Crimea, Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Greece.
These officials tried to uphold the sharia law over Muslims with the power they received from the caliph. They protected waqfs, or Muslim schools, and religious publications in these regions. Until this day, muftis are still dealing with the religious and judicial affairs of Muslims living in Greece thanks to this tradition.
This policy also bore its fruits in the early 20th century. Colonial Muslims, especially from Turkistan and India, offered unbelievable material and spiritual support following the occupation of Anatolia during the Great War. Ruling over one fourth of the entire world, Britain had a serious number of Muslims under its rule and sought to guard against the power of the caliph. Britain therefore focused its foreign policy of removing the caliph, starting from the second half of the 19th century.
The British achieved their goal following the Young Turks revolution in 1908 and then further cemented their gains in World War I. The Young Turks who seized power in the Ottoman State chopped the earthly powers of the caliphate.

Istanbul was occupied in 1918 by the Allies. The last Ottoman sultan, Mehmed Vahideddin, distracted the attention of the British as he organized the national resistance in Anatolia in secret. Mustafa Kemal Pasha, whom Sultan Vahideddin assigned to organize the resistance movement, established a parallel government in Ankara and turned away from Istanbul after his victory against the Greek. With a tactic that was supported by the British, the sultanate was abolished on Nov. 1, 1922 and the last sultan of the Ottoman Empire was accused of treason.
Afterward, crown Shahzade Abdülmecid Efendi was appointed caliph, breaking the autonomy of the caliphate and the sultanate for the second time in history, establishing a symbolic caliphate with no executive powers. Sultan Vahideddin, who had to leave the country, released a declaration that announced the constitutional amendment could not come into force without the approval of the sultan, and, hence, that it was against the constitution to separate the sultanate from the caliphate. He also condemned his cousin for accepting the office of caliphate under these circumstances.

Pressure produces results

Mustafa Kemal preserved the office of the caliph and it continued to play an important role in international politics. He even thought of declaring himself as the caliph, hence, he paid great attention to portray himself as a religious person. However, under pressure from the British, who ruled over millions of Muslims in their colonies, the government in Ankara abolished the caliphate on March 3, 1924. All men, women and children belonging to the Ottoman dynasty, one of the oldest dynasties in the world, were exiled. The last caliph, Sultan Abdülmecid, lived in France for 20 years.
This incident drew astonishment from across the Islamic world and some figures like King of Egypt Fuad and King of Hejaz Sharif Hussein wanted to assume the caliphate status. However, neither were the Muslims in favor of this nor was Britain. No fruitful results came up from the Caliphate Council, which included Muslims all around the world, either. This is how one of the oldest institutions in the history of Islam sank into oblivion.
The Ottoman dynasty was not as lucky as its European counterparts, as the empire went through difficult times while establishing a state and sustaining a society with different nationalities. Members of the Ottoman dynasty, who did not have any relatives abroad and whose wealth was seized, were in serious difficulty when they were exiled.
The dynasty's women were not allowed to enter Turkey for 28 years, while the duration was 50 years for men. Their fortune was never handed back. In recent times, there are certain signs of an Anglo-American project to establish a caliphate without material power to control the Islamic world from one center and avoid terrorism.

Media in east Africa Must stop sensationalizing jihadi brides

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News Deeply
Sunday March 5, 2017
By Fredrick Ogenga

Women taking part in a protest organized by al-Shabab against the African Union peacekeeping force, in Mogadishu, Somalia. The author says the way media reports on women who join militant groups adds to a widespread sense of antipathy and insecurity. Photo by AP/Mohamed Sheikh Nor

The phenomenon of women willingly joining extremist movements is not a new one, but the media often present the issue as a shocking novelty. Security expert Fredrick Ogenga says journalists need to learn how to report on terrorism without breeding prejudice and fear.

If you read Kenyan media reports about jihadi brides signing up to marry militant fighters in Somalia, you would be forgiven for thinking this is a new development in East Africa.

Yet it is a trend that can be traced back to the 1990s, when Osama bin Laden established a regional base for al-Qaida in Mombasa. He was operating from Sudan at the time and he sent some of his people to set up a cell in Kenya. These men married Swahili women, starting a phenomenon that has seemingly been hidden from the public consciousness until now.

More recently, we have seen an increasing number of reports in the Kenyan media about women who marry fighters or are radicalized into carrying out or planning attacks. Yet, a lot of what we read is sensationalized and quite limited in its reach, which can have a dangerous effect on the way people perceive this phenomenon, breeding prejudice and fear.
I have been working on a research project, funded by the Wilson Center, to better understand the relationship between the media and female jihadism in East Africa. And what I have learned so far is that much more can be done to deal with this issue in a responsible and intelligent way.

Most of what we know about women joining al-Shabab, the Islamic terrorist organization originating from Somalia, is gleaned from scattered reports of women caught trying to cross the border into Somalia or to carry out an attack in Kenya. Any real information on how these women are becoming radicalized is often missing.

But the picture is a lot more complex than the idea – peddled in the popular press – of a jihadi bride, forced or coerced to join a radical group out of poverty or ignorance or both. Unlike in parts of West Africa, where extremist groups like Boko Haram recruit women by kidnapping them or otherwise forcing them to join, women in Kenya appear to be joining al-Shabab under their own will. We have few examples in Kenya of women being kidnapped or forced to marry a jihadi husband.

To the contrary, the profile emerging of the kind of women signing up to fight with al-Shabab is young, educated and relatively well-off. Far from being vulnerable and disempowered, they are often independent thinkers, sometimes university students or graduates, and even women who are prominent in their communities.

It is increasingly clear that a lot of work has gone into training these women, into building a very strong person-to-person relationship with them over time, convincing them, radicalizing them and luring them into accepting an extremist and violent ideology.

My research suggests drivers for these women include a heavy religious element. Many of them access material on social media or online that pushes them towards adopting a more hardline ideology. There is also an element of romanticism in the way these women view their journey to fight for a better cause. They often share a sense of injustice or anger at their situation at home, where they see their rights and opportunities curtailed by a male-dominated society.

That raises questions about how the government can counter the problem and about how well we have covered the issue in newspaper and television reports up until now.

If programs designed to counter radicalization or to de-radicalize people are entirely focused on material interventions – such as providing work opportunities or training and livelihood skills – then they may not have any impact. The government needs to adopt a similar approach to the jihadist recruiters, building the confidence and trust of women and starting a dialogue that can address some of the grievances they have.

Through an initiative at Rongo University in Kenya called the Center for Media, Democracy, Peace and Security, we have been building a curriculum to train young journalism students on how to report on the issue using African traditions. The philosophy behind the program stems from Hybrid Peace Journalism (HPJ), an idea borrowed from Peace Journalism, the reform movement of reporters and activists aiming to solve conflict through peacebuilding and development. HPJ takes an Africanized approach, using the Swahili concepts of Umoja (unity), Harambee (national cohesion) and Utu (humanity) as news values.

This year, we are running a training workshop for journalists in East Africa and trying to work with them to understand the impact their terrorism reporting can have on the wider public. For example, journalists very rarely mention the word “peace” in their reporting, only talking about winners and losers, which adds to people’s feeling of antipathy and insecurity.

We have heard of fake news becoming part and parcel of the mainstream media and it’s high time we stop distorting the truth. We need some prudent intervention at the journalistic level and the audience’s level to help people understand the issue of jihadi brides in a balanced way, and to build a sense of humanity in the way we look at the problem.