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  1. Apologies for the downtime. We've been experiencing sporadic forum outages in the last 3 days. We think we've fixed the issue. We are currently working on tweaking few things. Asalamu Alaykum, Admin
  2. Nomads, please respect the rules of the website and stop the clan insults and the personal attacks against one another. There is no need for insults. If you can't present your argument without insults and name-calling, dib isugu noqo. Waxbaa khaldan! Admin
  3. It looks fine. You just had a link that wasn't a proper youtube link. I took your link and opened it in a browser and copied the right address again.
  4. (CNN) - The explosive device built into a laptop computer that detonated last week on a Somali passenger jet was "sophisticated" and got past X-ray machines at the Mogadishu airport, a source close to the investigation told CNN, raising concerns about security measures at airports across Africa and internationally. The device blew a hole in the skin of the Daallo Airlines plane on February 2 but did not down the aircraft, because it detonated 20 minutes into the flight, before it reached cruising altitude. The suspected bomber was blown out of the plane, and his body was recovered on the ground near Mogadishu. The plane returned to the airport. Two people aboard were injured. Investigators suspect Abdullahi Abdisalam Borleh, a Somali national, carried the laptop computer with a bomb in it onto Daallo Airlines Flight 159, the source said. The bomber knew precisely where to sit and how to place the device to maximize damage, the source told CNN. Given the placement, the blast likely would have set off a catastrophic secondary explosion in the fuel tank if the aircraft had reached cruising altitude, the source said. But an hour delay in the departure of the flight may have saved everybody on board, the source said. The source said two airport workers, who became suspects in the plot, put the laptop on an X-ray belt and then handed the device to the suspected bomber in the departure lounge. Authorities released surveillance video showing the handover. A military grade of the explosive TNT caused the explosion on the Somali airliner, two other sources with knowledge of the investigation told CNN, citing an initial analysis of residue recovered from the aircraft. Experts told CNN it was unlikely a forensic examination of the airplane would so quickly have provided clues about the sophistication of the device because the laptop was blown into many pieces. They said the most likely explanation for such a quick assessment was that investigators were able to look at a saved copy of the X-ray scan. A Somali official told CNN that a piece of the keyboard from the laptop and the laptop bag, although burned, survived the explosion. The airport worker wearing a white shirt in the surveillance footage died in mysterious circumstances three days after the attack when a vehicle he was in exploded, a Somali official close to the investigation told CNN. Just before the explosion, the person to whom the vehicle belonged -- the man in a yellow vest in the surveillance video -- had gotten out of the car so he could buy something at a shop. He was taken into custody, according to the official. The same official backtracked from his earlier assertion that both airport workers were arrested. Lax standards in security 'elephant in the room' It was not clear what kind of X-ray machine failed to detect the explosive device nor whether the laptop was subject to other explosive detection systems. Most airports in the developed world use the latest generation of multiview X-ray machines, but some airports in less developed parts of the world still use single-view X-ray machines significantly less reliable in detecting explosives. Many airports in Africa and across the developing world also lag behind in the deployment of explosive trace detection technology, or ETD. In a practice familiar to many air travelers, security staff take swabs that are placed into a machine and can detect minute quantities of explosive residue. The latest generation of X-ray machines and ETD, when used in combination, are generally good at detecting TNT and should catch the explosive, even if it were concealed in the electronics of a laptop, because ETD swabs can detect minute amounts of residue, according to William McGann, an explosive detection expert at Implant Sciences, a U.S. company that manufactures explosive detection systems. McGann told CNN that when modern multiview X-ray systems are used alone there is a chance the clutter in the X-ray image caused by the laptop could lead operators to overlook anomalies flagged by the technology. "Single view X-rays, on the other hand, would be totally reliant on a very vigilant screener at best -- and TNT concealed in a laptop could be easily missed," he added. Lax standards in airport security across Africa and in many developing nations across the world has been the "elephant in the room for a long, long time," an explosives expert with experience in Somalia told CNN on condition of anonymity. "When terrorists start changing their methods to the point where their explosive devices are no longer just a bag of bolts or a steel pipe, then the rest of the world needs to be worried. These sorts of disguised devices are disturbing. A perpetrator may not fool the world-trained expert looking at the device on an X-ray, but a half-bored official without the same training might let something slip by. They are starting to defeat visual technology. It's only as good as the operator," the expert said. Robert Liscouski, a former senior official at the Department of Homeland Security and president of Implant Sciences, said there's an urgent need for better training of airport workers. "In developing countries where there are significant challenges to training and maintaining an effective security workforce, it is almost impossible to have a security system that won't have process vulnerabilities," Liscouski said. One avenue of inquiry for investigators will be whether the laptop received less scrutiny by staff manning the X-ray machine because airport workers brought it in. Somali investigation called open The Somali government has been open and cooperative with its international partners in the investigation so far, a Western official in Mogadishu said. Jangali, the Somali transport minister, told CNN the investigation was progressing well. "Hopefully when we conclude the investigation, we can share this information we have gathered with other intelligence agencies," he said by phone. "It's too early to speculate on the exact nature of this attack. We first want to find out exactly what happened, the sequence of events and all the people involved to get the complete picture." Laptop used in earlier attack If the Somali terrorist group Al-Shabaab built the explosive device in the plane bombing, it would represent a significant elevation in its bomb-making capabilities, according to analysts. Given the sophistication of the device, one possibility is that al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen -- al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula -- shared technology with the group. AQAP bomb-maker Ibrahim al Asiri has been developing a new generation of explosive devices concealed in electronics, according to Western intelligence officials, and there are indications the group has shared this technology with al Qaeda affiliates in Syria. Last week's explosion in the air above Somalia wasn't the first case of a laptop bomb being used to try to target civilians in the Somali capital. A laptop explosive device was used in a 2013 attack on a Mogadishu hotel. In November 2013, Al-Shabaab deployed a laptop bomb at the city's Hotel Maka. A confidential source close to that investigation at the time provided photos of the device, saying they show that the bomb was faulty. The incomplete detonation, however, led people in the hotel to run outside the building, and when first responders arrived, a suicide bomber drove a car bomb into the group, killing six and injuring more than a dozen. More than 40 arrests so far, official says Al Qaeda affiliate believed to be behind laptop bomb 01:57 No group has claimed responsibility for the Daallo plane attack. U.S. officials said Al-Shabaab is the most likely culprit. The terror group attacked a restaurant and hotel last month on Mogadishu's Lido Beach, killing dozens of Somalis. A Somali official close to the investigation told CNN that three field tests for explosives were conducted at the explosion site on the plane. All tested positive for explosive residue. Now those tests have been sent to labs in the United States. According to the official, Borleh, the suspected bomber, was seated in 16 F on the plane. Investigators found parts of the laptop -- a piece of keypad -- and the laptop bag burned. The explosive device was hidden inside the laptop. The plane was at 12,000 feet when the explosion occurred. Borleh's right leg and right hand were blown off -- leading investigators to believe the bag was somewhere on his right side. The source said Borleh's injuries were consistent with those suffered in an explosion, and he had explosive residue on him when his body was recovered. Borleh was heading to Turkey, ostensibly for medical reasons. He ended up taking the Daallo Airlines flight to Djibouti after a Turkish Airlines flight he had booked was canceled. There have been 45 arrests made so far in the case, and those are some people who were directly and indirectly involved, the Somali official said. Somalia's criminal intelligence division and explosive ordinance disposal team are leading the investigation. People are being interrogated, surveillance footage is being combed through from the 92 closed-circuit TV cameras at the airport, the official said. "We have minute-by-minute footage of the event," the official told CNN. New security standards at Mogadishu airport Somalia has begun using new search and security methods at the Aden Adde International Airport in Mogadishu, including bomb-sniffing dogs, says Ali Ahmed Jama Jangali, the Somali transport minister. Passengers said sniffer dogs were now searching their luggage at the airport. These dogs are not new; they are part of the Somalia National Police's explosive ordinance disposal teams. Until now these canines and their Somali handlers have been deployed at big events or during VIP visits -- but Jangali said they would become a regular feature at the Mogadishu airport. Source:
  5. Ayaan Farah has no criminal record. For eight years, she was a customer service agent for US Airways at Pearson airport with the highest security clearance, undergoing background checks in 2006 and 2012. And then a brief and vague police report — possibly based on information obtained through carding — got her clearance revoked. On Jan. 9, 2014, Transport Canada received two pieces of information from Toronto police, via the RCMP: Farah, 31, was seen once in 2011 with a Dixon Crew gang member who “admitted at the time being a very close associate to (Farah).” And in September 2012, a car registered to her was seen leaving the funeral of a gang member. Farah was not in the car, but two people with criminal records were. Farah told Transport Canada that she did not know who these people could be — none are named — and that she recalled no interaction with police and the gang member identified only as Subject A. It was likely her father driving the car to the funeral, she said, as he attends many funerals as a leader in the Somali community. Farah’s clearance was placed under review for nine months and then restored in full in October 2014. It was revoked two months later. She has been suspended without pay since. On Monday, Farah is challenging the decision in Federal Court, arguing that she was not given a fair chance to defend herself and that her Charter rights were violated because her associations were scrutinized with no reasonable grounds. “I don’t have a criminal record, I’ve never committed a crime, I’ve always followed the law,” Farah said in an interview. She grew up in the Dixon Rd. area and Rexdale — both areas with serious crime problems — and volunteers as a community youth worker. “How do you know if someone has a criminal record? If you grew up in Dixon and John Garland, you went to school with these people, in the same community. Can you remember who you said hi to in 2011?” She has been denied further information about the incidents due to privacy laws — she does not know who the subjects are, the exact dates the incidents occurred or where, or how the information was obtained. The police report states they had a “direct interaction” with Farah and Subject A, who has been convicted of several charges, including drug trafficking and is involved in firearms trafficking. The report notes the current status of their association is not known and the exact nature of the association is never specified. It is not mentioned in the information provided if Farah herself ever spoke to the police during the incident or confirmed an association with Subject A. Subject B, one of the two people with criminal records in the car at the funeral, was listed as having several convictions, including robbery and assault with a weapon. Subject C had a single conviction for theft under $5000. Transport Canada’s director-general of aviation security found it unlikely Farah would not recall an interaction with police and, due to her “close association” with Subject A, “either knew or was wilfully blind to Subject A’s activities.” In her decision she noted Subject B has a withdrawn charge for second-degree murder. Farah’s association with three individuals with criminal records (including the two found leaving the gang member’s funeral) raised “concerns about judgment, reliability and trustworthiness,” the decision states, concluding Farah may be induced to commit or help in an act that would impede civil aviation. At Monday’s hearing, Farah’s lawyer Mitchell Worsoff says he will argue that Farah’s Charter right to “life, liberty and security” has been violated because her personal associations have been examined for no reason. “She gets chastised and loses her job, suffering humiliation and essentially impecunity at this point, all because the state has chosen to look at who she has been associating with. What is happening here is a very dangerous thing,” Worsoff said in an interview. If she is not successful in this proceeding, he said, “every member of our community and by extension, our country, and I don’t say this in a dramatic way, will face danger without having ever committed a criminal act.” The factum he submitted to court argues “it is evident that an individual could objectively suffer serious psychological stress where that person cannot ever dispute or escape the shadow of criminal accusations that were never proven in court or substantiated.” Transport Canada could not comment on the case as it is before the courts, a spokesperson said. Its factum filed with the court states that “access to a restricted area of an airport is a privilege, not a right” and that the decision “was both reasonably made and procedurally fair.” It also says there is no basis for a Charter argument because there is no evidence Farah has undergone “significant psychological stress” due to her clearance being cancelled. “What really frustrates me is how your clearance could be taken away from you for something you have not done,” Farah says. She questions why, if there were genuine concerns about her being a risk, it took so long for the information to come to Transport Canada and for her clearance to be revoked. “Maybe they think working at US airways is just a job. But I came from humble beginnings. It was making ends meet. It was really important to me. For them to come to a decision so easily with no proof, no evidence…it’s very disappointing.” Farah believes that the information given to Transport Canada was obtained through carding. While she has no recollection of being carded, her father did give his name and the car’s registration details to police once when leaving a funeral, according to an affidavit he filed with the court. Farah’s younger sister, Naiima, has seen the ramifications of carding in her work in youth development — students unable to land jobs or volunteer positions because a police interaction shows up on a background check — but this is the first time it has struck so close to home. “Targeting people from certain communities, this is something everyone needs to step against,” she says. “We are not collateral damage, we are not scraps of metal, we are human beings.” Farah wonders how far the information has spread. Shortly before Farah’s security clearance was revoked, her aunt, an American citizen, was crossing the border from Canada to the U.S. She was taken aside, searched and finally asked if she knew Ayaan Farah and where she was. Farah, a Canadian citizen, is now worried about what will happen should she travel to the U.S. “No matter where I lived, it didn’t matter. I could make sure our situation improved by getting a job, going to school. I always believed in that,” says Farah who is currently attending Seneca college. Now she is not so sure. “You teach these kids follow the rules, obey the law, don’t take any shortcuts, go to school…but when the kids see that you’ve been following the law and you haven taken any shortcuts and your clearance is revoked and you don’t have a job even though you did everything right, why should they listen to me? My character is damaged. I don’t have answers for these kids.” By: Alyshah Hasham Staff Reporter, Source:
  6. Ayan Ali arrived at the Rideau Centre mall in an expensive car with friends posing as bodyguards, fans, paparazzi and assistants, and it worked.
  7. New Portland police officer makes history for Maine’s Somali community Zahra Abu, who was born in a Kenyan refugee camp and went on to graduate from Deering High and USM, is sworn in as the state's first Somali police officer. When she played as a child, Zahra Abu always imagined herself the sheriff, arresting bad guys. The fact that she was born to Somali parents in a Kenyan refugee camp, then raised in Portland, didn’t dampen her enthusiasm – but it may have contributed to her drive. After years of hard work, including earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern Maine in three years while working two jobs, Abu became a first: She was sworn in Friday as a Portland police officer. A large segment of Maine’s Somali community and other immigrants, still uncertain how they fit in their new home, are celebrating the appointment of the state’s first Somali police officer. “This is history for us,” said Fatuma Hussein, executive director of United Somali Women of Maine, who could barely contain her enthusiasm. Abu is “young, energetic. She stands for a lot of youth, who really deserve the opportunities such as that and I think she’s going to pave the way for many girls, women, boys and men in our community.” Maine’s police departments are becoming more diverse. The most recent Maine Criminal Justice Academy class included three graduates – from Portland police, Auburn police and the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office – for whom English is not their first language. The police department in Lewiston, which also has a large Somali community, has been recruiting heavily to attract officer candidates from that group, though none has yet been hired. ‘WE WILL ONLY HIRE THE BEST’ Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck said Abu has a different background from many in the department, but she went through the same process as everyone else to become an officer. “There’s no question that we want to be as diverse as our communities, but we will only hire the best, and I do believe she is one of them,” he said. “I hire good human beings and then we make police officers from them.” Sauschuck welcomed five new officers, including Abu, to the department during a ceremony Friday at City Hall. All five had to pass a rigorous series of physical and psychological exams representing a variety of life experiences. “I’m very excited, a little nervous,” Abu said Friday before the ceremony. “I feel very grateful for this opportunity. … I like helping people.” Also sworn in was Darrel Gibson, who is from Ohio. He studied to be a firefighter and emergency medical technician and is now getting his bachelor’s degree in religion and theology from Liberty University. He also competes in mixed martial arts. Concetta Puleo is from Long Island, New York, and worked as an insurance agent in Manhattan before moving to Maine and becoming a police officer. David Moore was raised in Newport, where he was home-schooled through 12th grade and later became an emergency medical technician and studied justice at the University of Maine at Augusta. Ben Savage is from South Portland and graduated magna cum laude from Thomas College in Waterville. He is a former member of the Scarborough Police Explorers, a group for youths who are interested in law enforcement. He was a Portland police cadet for two summers. FAMILY EMPHASIZED EDUCATION Abu, 22, the youngest of nine children, moved to Portland when she was 2. She earned a Girl Scout Gold Award, the equivalent of the Boy Scouts’ Eagle Scout award. She graduated from Deering High School in 2011. While studying criminal justice and women-and-gender studies at USM, she worked in loss prevention for Kohl’s department store in Westbrook and was a full-time case manager for Catholic Charities Maine. She considered studying law, but her brother, Ilyas Munye Abu, a police officer in Worcester, Massachusetts, talked her into pursuing an internship with the Maine State Police instead. “I told her it’s very rewarding when you go home to your family and can say you helped people,” he said. Her father, Munye Munye, said he is proud of his daughter, because her path may have been difficult but she followed her ambition. Abu is athletic, as well as calm, reserved and respectful, said her oldest brother, Mohamed Abu, 49, a computer engineer. He said the family is proud of his sister, who they say is the nation’s second Somali police officer. Abu still has work to do before she can wear the badge that was presented to her Friday. She and other recruits from around the state must complete an 18-week training program before they can become full-time municipal police officers. Abu’s sister Samira, 29, a social worker, said her family always has emphasized education, and all the children have attended college. “One of the things our parents kind of nailed into our brains was, ‘You’re here for a reason. You need to take advantage of the education that is provided for you,’” she said. Abu wore a hijab to her swearing-in, but won’t wear one when she’s patrolling the city’s streets. “I don’t plan on wearing the hijab every shift just because it can become a hazard,” she said. “If you get in a scuffle, someone can decide to choke you with it. … I don’t need my hijab for everyone to know I’m Muslim and I’m Somali. That’s always going to be in my heart.” ROLE MODEL Abu’s appointment gives immigrants a sense of belonging and a sense of ambition, said Hussein, of the United Somali Women of Maine. Abu will be a role model and an important liaison with law enforcement, she said, someone who speaks Somali and understands the culture. “She is the symbol of creating a trust relationship, bringing our community closer to law enforcement. I think she is the symbol of building bridges and forging relationships,” Hussein said. “She will be getting a lot of phone calls. She needs to be ready for that. She’ll be getting knocks on her door.” Reza Jalali, multicultural student affairs coordinator for USM, said Abu’s accomplishment resonates on a number of levels. “It’s wonderful for the entire new Mainers community because they need role models. They need to feel that they belong and are included, and that this is their country as well and their community as well,” he said. Abu also is breaking down barriers for other women. “She’s shattering some kind of ceiling and stereotypes and barriers that her own community has,” Jalali said, referring to how some traditionalists don’t approve of women pursuing roles that are seen as more appropriate for men. “Now maybe some girl wants to be chief of police, attorney general,” he said. “That’s how it starts.” Hussein concedes that it is unfair to put such a burden on one person, carrying the aspirations of so many people. But it is the inescapable price of being a leader. “You will have many immigrants graduating from college that will look into law enforcement because she made that bold move for them. She laid the foundation,” Hussein said. “She has made history. Nobody can take that away.” Source:
  8. National Consultation Forum (NCF) The Federal Government of Somalia, Regional Governments and Federal Parliament recently launched the National Consultative process to give an opportunity for Somalis to think collectively and to arrive at common decisions on how the electoral transition will be conducted. The process is designed to be inclusive, and incorporate viewpoints of a cross-section of Somali society. In line with the New Deal and Vision 2016, which encourage participation, the inclusion of women, youth and minorities is essential to the process. The process is also designed to incorporate national, regional and local perspectives. The resulting recommendations will reflect the interests and concerns of a broad-range of Somali opinion with regard to inclusive political participation and building a more peaceful society.
  9. One Team: The Story of The Lewiston High School Blue Devils from LHSOneTeamFilm on Vimeo. The Lewiston High School boys soccer team is comprised of players from six different countries, with a majority being African Immigrants that fled refugee camps in hopes for a better life. The story looks at how soccer has shaped the immigrant population as well as how the immigrant population has shaped a Coach and a community. Produced by Ian Clough, Tom Fournier and Brad Bosse Directed by Ian Clough Director of Photography John Mowat
  10. More than 240,000 people in Somaliland do not have enough food because of acute droughts caused by poor rains. Save the Children, which is building wells and reservoirs and providing chlorination, warns that malnutrition rates – especially for children under five – are alarming and likely to increase Photographs by Felicity McCabe/Save the Children Source:
  11. Soccer is big-time in the former mill town of Lewiston, Maine. Last month the high school boys team took the state championship, capping a 17-0 season. A few details: the day was warm, the stands were packed, and the team included seven players who'd lived together in a Somali refugee camp before coming to the U.S. Since 2007, I've been writing about Lewiston and the 5,000 Somali refugees who have made it their home. In Lewiston, the news is mostly good. The magazine and newspaper pieces I've done are stories of adaptation and progress because that's what I see happening here. Message to political leaders across the nation who don't want Syrian refugees in their states: If Lewiston can do it, then so can other U.S. cities and towns. In Lewiston, there are Somali city leaders and police force recruits. One in four schoolchildren is of African descent, and Somali kids are heading off to college in ever-rising numbers. Stores that had been shuttered have reopened under Somali ownership. Somalis work in health care, financial services and industry. They sell vegetables at farmers markets, and the triple-deckers that fan out from downtown Kennedy Park once again are filled with families. What's happening in this city of 36,000 people is isbedal, the Somali word for transformation. "We are making it here," says Fatuma Hussein, who moved with her family to Lewiston in 2001 and serves as executive director of United Somali Women of Maine. "We've come a long way in fifteen years. People see Lewiston as their home." Two weeks after the soccer championship, a party was held at the local Ramada Inn to mark the victory. Hussein was there. "It was so diverse," she says. "I looked at the crowd and thought, 'This is who we are.' The whites and the blacks, the young, old, women, children, men - all of us were there to celebrate our boys." Last spring I spent time at a Lewiston youth center that primarily serves Somali kids. At the center, girls raced down the hallway, their hijabs flying, to get first dibs on supplies in the art room. Teenagers sandwiched into a music studio sang Beyonce and Stevie Wonder to the accompaniment of a self-taught pianist, while outdoors bystanders cheered and a dog barked as goals accrued in a pick-up soccer game. The Somalis are finding their way alongside Lewistonians who've lived here for decades or generations. It's not utopia. Unemployment among the refugees remains high, and even after a decade many still speak limited English. For some, PTSD and other effects of trauma hinder acculturation. Social services are strained. And among some Lewistonians, racial and religious bias lingers. But there's vibrancy to the place, especially to downtown, that didn't exist a decade ago -- and very little conflict. I grew up an hour from Lewiston and, as a journalist, often wrote about western Maine. The arrival of hundreds of African Muslim families in a city that was almost wholly white and Christian interested me from the start. But I had to work to sell the Lewiston Somali story to my editors because, in spite of occasional news briefs to the contrary, things in Lewiston were mostly going well. What's happened with the Somali refugees is likely what would happen with the Syrians and other refugees, especially those relocated to smaller, former industrial cities with population drain -- places in need of revitalization. For decades, Lewiston was an urban hub for nearby towns and villages. In the 70s, my family drove there to shop and visit relatives several times a year. The city's glory days of textile manufacturing were fading, but the downtown sidewalks were still filled with people. It wasn't until the '80s that it became clear how much things had changed. One by one, storefronts grew vacant and dark until the downtown was all but deserted. Lewiston was in the same predicament as other industrial cities--mills closed, jobs gone and the young leaving. Such was the situation in February 2001 when the first Somali refugees came northfrom Portland, where relocation housing was short. A handful of families soon became a hundred; at the height of the influx several dozen Somalis were showing up by Greyhound bus each week. The climate grew strained. In 2002, then-mayor Laurier Raymond wrote: "The large number of new arrivals cannot continue without negative results for all... [W]e need breathing room." Raymond's letter triggered a chain of reactions, including a poorly attended white supremacist rally and a sizeable counter-demonstration. Relations steadily improved from there. When a man tossed a pig's head through the doorway of a downtown mosque while people inside were praying, the reaction -- at least publicly -- was unanimous. The deed was denounced, the offender criminally charged. New arrivals kept coming. Most recently there's been an influx of asylum-seekers from Chad, Djibouti, and Congo. Month by month the neighborhoods and schools of the city are growing and adapting. Lewiston's workforce is ever more diverse, and the overall economy is robust. To be sure, there remains a divide between the newcomers and some longtime Lewistonians -- cultural and religious differences that preclude anything but a civil intersection. But civility is a start. The first Somali-American children born in Lewiston are now in their freshman year of high school. They are Mainers, kids who grew up with snow and ice and the piercing blue of a winter sky. They wear wool hats over their hijabs and go to sleep at night with the nearby Androscoggin River a vast, unseen presence in the dark. They, and Lewiston, are part of change. They are isbedal. Source:
  12. Somalia-born and Canadian-raised rapper K'naan will team with Zero Dark Thirty director Kathryn Bigelow on a new HBO drama series that will focus on Jihadi recruitment in the United States. The series, titled The Recruiters, "will draw open an iron curtain behind which viewers will see the highly impenetrable world of Jihadi recruitment," HBO said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. The Recruiters will be set in Minnesota with K'naan on board to write and direct the pilot; Bigelow will serve in an executive producer role. The Hurt Locker director previously partnered with HBO for The Most Miraculous Year, a drama series that wasn't picked up after the pilot was filmed. On K'naan's Twitter, the rapper-songwriter has posted multiple audition announcements for Toronto and Minnesota, with the series seeking a "young Somali man" for the lead role. In K'naan's childhood in Somalia, he witnessed three of his young friends get gunned down during the African nation's bloody civil war, an incident he wrote about for the New York Times in 2011 While K'naan has released four albums, most recently 2012's Country, God or the Girl, The Recruiters would mark his first television project. Source:
  13. SAHRA HALGAN, a musician, fled Hargeisa in northern Somalia in 1991. The city she left was a smoking ruin; most of the population was scattered. But in 2013, after 22 years living in France and working as a cleaner, she felt the urge to return. “I love France, but my country is called Somaliland,” she says. And so she set up a restaurant. At weekends, it fills up with Coca-Cola-sipping young men in smart shirts and women in bright silk head-dresses. Musicians strum the lute-like oud and sing folk songs, as plates of camel meat and spiced rice circulate and the audience hold up their iPhones to take selfies. Stories such as Ms Halgan’s abound in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, a breakaway region which declared independence from the rest of Somalia in 1991. Unlike Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia proper, Hargeisa is broadly safe, and undergoing a remarkable economic boom. On its dusty streets, goats compete for space with Land Cruisers; new businesses such as “the English Beauty Salon” and “the Scandinavian hotel” are everywhere. In cafés Somalis with accents from London, Minnesota and Amsterdam sip frappuccinos. The boom is an indicator of how successful other parts of Somalia could be if the fighting could be stopped. But it also comes with tensions that could undermine the fragile peace. Almost every building in Hargeisa has been constructed in the past two decades. In the city centre a Russian-built MiG is mounted on a crudely painted plinth: a relic from the Somali civil war, which ran from the late 1980s until 1991, when the city was comprehensively destroyed by Siad Barre, Somalia’s last military dictator. The war convinced many that they wanted nothing to do with any government in Mogadishu. On the plinth is the date “26th June”, the day on which, in 1960, Somaliland gained its independence from Britain, five days before it formally joined Somalia, newly independent from Italy. Most Somalilanders think the union was a mistake. Recovery began with refugees sending money home through the hawala system (see related article). It accelerated dramatically in 2009, when Saudi Arabia lifted a nine-year ban on imports of livestock from Somalia. Last year some 5m animals were exported, more than for 20 years. The animal trade generates money which can be spent on consumer goods: shops are full of Vietnamese clothes and Chinese electronics. That in turn creates opportunities for investment, and so diaspora Somalis who had previously mostly sent money home began to set up businesses. They have helped to build a world-class mobile-phone network, a fibre-optic broadband link to Djibouti and a mobile-money system which is one of the most widely used in Africa. Mahdi Abdi moved to Hargeisa in 2013 from the suburbs of Washington, DC; he had left Mogadishu in the 1970s as a teenager. In his American twang, he jokes about his mid-life crisis. “I had the house in the ’burbs, the dog, the business, everything.” But Hargeisa seemed more exciting. In his dental clinic he proudly shows off imported equipment with which he can build proper crowns and dentures—unknown until now in Somaliland. Those who have lived abroad have plenty of advantages. Those with foreign passports can travel to business meetings. In a country where the local currency is traded in brick-sized bundles, they have greater access to foreign money (almost all large transactions are dollarised). Most of all they have education, which, 20 years after the civil war, is sorely lacking. More than a dozen universities have opened in Hargeisa over the past decade or so, hawking degrees to hopeful youngsters (the median age in Somalia is around 17). But few trust their quality. But not all members of the diaspora are welcome. Newcomers are buying up land, pushing up property prices—which, in a country with a creaking legal system, can lead to bloody disputes. Their teenage children, whom Somalilanders often send home for the summer, are accused of flashing money around, flirting and generally making a nuisance of themselves. And tension simmers between two different diaspora groups: Westerners, and those from Saudi Arabia, Yemen and the other Gulf states. Like Mr Abdi and Ms Halgan, Westerners tend to get busy setting up businesses such as cafés, restaurants and clinics. Those back from the Gulf, by contrast, are more involved in the import and export trades, livestock and the construction industry—through which they can exert a worrying political influence. “This society used to be half-African, half-Muslim, not too deeply religious,” says one well-connected Somalilander. “Now the Wahhabis are everywhere.” The country’s early democracy has faltered: an election in Somaliland planned for this year has been delayed, ostensibly because of problems organising it. Corruption is endemic, and the media is seldom critical. Dissent is increasingly dangerous, particularly on the fraught issue of national identity. On September 27th, four musicians were arrested on their return to Somaliland: they had apparently waved a Somalian flag at a gig in Mogadishu. They were released only after widespread protests. Still, life remains much better than in Mogadishu, where car-bombs and shootings continue to punctuate the night. The question is what happens next. Independence, most think, is a pipe-dream: politicians in Mogadishu are unlikely to want to lose a substantial chunk of the country. African neighbours such as Ethiopia, whose troops guarantee security in much of the rest of Somalia, will not approve either; nor, for that matter, will the West. No country has yet recognised Somaliland’s self-declared independence. But for a million or so Somalis living abroad, Hargeisa offers a model for how they might return to their homeland and to try to rebuild. If only the rest of Somalia could catch up. Source:
  14. When Sahro Hassan stepped into the halls of Lewiston Regional Technical Center as a freshman in 2010, she was already designing her future along with trendy clothes for young Muslim women. “The fashion industry in the US doesn’t do justice to modest women, especially when it comes to young females like me, and that frustrated me,” explains Hassan. “I decided to create fashions appropriate to my culture and to my beliefs,” she adds, “but also unique and sophisticated so that both Muslim and non-Muslim women would want to wear it.” “I love being able to express so much with just a piece of garment,” says Hassan, who at age 19 already has three fashion shows and both local and state awards to her name. One of her goals, she emphasizes, is to use her fashions to create cross-cultural conversation. “The more people who come to this country as immigrants,” she explains, “the more we need to share and embrace each other’s cultures. We need to understand each other’s stories. I want to do that through fashion.” For a promotional video shoot in Lewiston, Maine, designs by 19-year-old Sahro Hassan are modeled by (clockwise from top-left) Heather Pollock, Reyni Bernabel, Cristal Martin, Kenzi Langley and Maryam Abdirahman.Hassan’s own story began before she was born, when her family emigrated in the early 1990’s from Somalia.“I remember my mother telling me that she and my father walked for days and days before they ended up in Kenya,” she recalls. Desperate to leave famine and civil war behind, Sahro’s parents spent several years at a refugee camp named Dadaab, some 100 kilometers across the border, where Sahro was born. After relocating to the Kakuma camp in northeastern Kenya, the family was accepted for refugee resettlement in Indianapolis, Indiana when Sahro was 10. After four months there, Somali friends in Lewiston suggested the Hassans join them in Maine. “I feel humbled because of the experience I had at such a young age,” says Hassan. “Looking back, no one would choose to grow up in hardship, but I believe that if I can overcome my past, I can overcome anything.”There was indeed much to overcome. When Hassan, her parents and seven younger siblings arrived in Lewiston in 2007, none of them spoke English. Her father needed work. Despite the obstacles, Sahro Hassan flourished. At home in Lewiston, Sahro Hassan stands at top left with her mother and siblings around her. Of the family's journey from Somalia to Kenya to Maine, Hassan says, “No one would choose to grow up in hardship, but I believe that if I can overcome my past, I can overcome anything.” “Sahro always stood out,” says Barbara Benjamin-McManus, Hassan’s middle-school teacher and mentor. “I remember that when she first came to school, most of the other Muslim girls wore long skirts with pants underneath. But she wore vibrant colors and was always dressed a little bit different, and she was never self-conscious.” She adds that Hassan often expressed her desire to become a fashion designer. “I think she’s going to make it because she’s breaking a mold, and she is driven to excel. She is the first Muslim girl I know who’s gone into fashion design, and I told her to hold onto that dream!” Hassan learned to sew at the Tree Street Youth after-school program, and as a freshman at Mount Ida College in Newton, Massachusetts, she honed skills in apparel construction under Jeanne McDavitt. Hassan learned to sew at Tree Street Youth, an after-school and summer program for at-risk youth in downtown Lewiston. With its support, which included a donated sewing machine and fabric, she held her first fashion show in 2013, and Somali friends modelled her designs. Last year she graduated from Lewiston High School with honors, and she calls herself an “Islamanista”—her own moniker as a Muslim “fashionista.”Hassan laughs when she recalls how unprepared she was for her fashion launch. “I had no clue what I was doing, so I just threw stuff together,” she says. “Some of the garments were even hard to walk in since I was still teaching myself how to sew.”Fatuma Ali, her 18-year-old cousin and one of her models, recalls her own disbelief when Hassan told her she wanted to be a fashion designer. “I never really thought she was going to do it because in our culture we don’t do fashion or anything outside of the box. She was the first girl in our community to do something different.” Hassan has tried to find a good cultural mix, adds Ali. “We still keep our hijabs on, but she’s changing the designs. I think that’s really cool.” Wearing Hassan’s designs, models prep for the runway. “I decided to create fashions appropriate to my culture and to my beliefs,” Hassan says, “but also unique and sophisticated‚ so that both Muslim and non-Muslim women would want to wear it.”With each show, Hassan’s sewing and production skills have improved. In 2013 and 2014, she held two at an outdoor plaza during the city’s summer Artwalk festivals. Local Lewiston residents filled the seats at her last show, Benjamin-McManus recalls. “Most of the spectators were white. Afterwards they came up to Sahro and wished her well. They were so supportive it blew me away,” she says. Among those who were impressed was Lewiston photographer Jim Walker, who offered to photograph her fashions and created her first professional portfolio—for free.“The mere fact that Sahro Hassan is a known name in Lewiston demonstrates the impact she has on both the Somali and local community,” says Julia Sleeper, founder and director of Tree Street Youth. “I think she sees herself as someone working toward unifying populations by helping people to understand cultural differences using something she’s passionate about.“She knows that what she is doing goes beyond making fashions and dresses for some of her friends and customers. It’s a much greater statement that affects the young Muslim women of her community as well as the community at large.” Lewiston, Maine: The Accidental Melting PotTake an economically struggling Maine mill town of 36,600 and add to it nearly 5,000 Somalis seeking haven in a new country. On the surface, it hardly looks like a formula for success.When the first substantial numbers of Somalis began arriving in 2001 in Lewiston, they were not welcomed with open arms. Unemployment was high, and locals feared that new arrivals would overburden social services and increase competition for the few jobs left after the closure of once-thriving textile mills.Despite Lewiston’s economic slump, it was one of the US cities that Somali refugees themselves found attractive—through websites and word of mouth: good schools, affordable housing and, most important of all, a safe place to raise a family. Many brought a strong sense of community and entrepreneurship; they enrolled their children in the local public schools, signed up for English courses and found—or created—jobs.Today, per-capita income in Lewiston is rising. The crime rate has dropped. The center of town, once called “The Combat Zone,” has new, family-owned grocery stores offering halal meats (prepared following the Islamic method of slaughter), and there are storefront mosques in between new organic-food cafes as well as other more conventional businesses.“Challenges still exist,” comments Julia Sleeper, founder of Lewiston’s Tree Street Youth Center. “Acculturation is messy.” But relations, she says, continue to improve. This, she says, is “testimony to the strength of both communities.”“Sahro is an amazing success story,” says Sleeper, “and an important peer role model for our other students at Tree Street.” Both Sleeper and her colleague Kim Sullivan continue to mentor Hassan as she pursues fashion design at Mount Ida College in Newton, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston.Sullivan maintains that Hassan’s ability to bridge cultures stems in part from her parents’ steadfast backing. “They are incredible,” she comments. They have always been supportive of Sahro in what she wants to do, even when it has not always seemed culturally appropriate to them.”Hassan admits that her parents were at first confused. “My mother even told me that in our culture we have people who sew or tailor clothes—but not designers,” she explains. “My parents didn’t understand what a designer does, or how it could become a career.” Hassan’s desire to launch her own business got a boost during her junior year at Lewiston when she joined the Youth Entrepreneurs Academy (yea) program sponsored by the Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce. Chip Morrison, then president of the chamber and director of yea, interviewed Hassan when she applied. He wondered how this soft-spoken, small young woman was going to be able to promote her business idea. “But she had this incredible drive. You could feel it even though she didn’t articulate it very well in the beginning,” says Morrison, who observed her transformation over the 30-week after-school program. Hassan keeps focus during the shoot.In the end, she wowed the local investors, and they gave her the grant she needed to launch her business under the name Fashionuji. “Sahro is magnetic,” exclaims Morrison. “This young woman will not be denied. She is driven to succeed, and I would never be surprised if she later founded a Fortune 500 company. I have that much confidence in her.”Today, it’s hard to find anyone in Lewiston who hasn’t heard of “Fashion Girl,” as Hassan is affectionately known. Young Muslim women inspired by her designs are sporting brighter colors and trendier patterns, and some local stores showcase her fashions. She has a growing fan club among non-Muslim girls in town.Morrison’s confidence was well founded. As a result of the yea, in 2013 Hassan received first prize in Maine’s “Future Business Leaders of America” competition. Later that same year she represented Maine in the national Future Business Leaders of America competition. In 2014 she won the “Girls Rock Award” for entrepreneurship from Hardy Girls, Healthy Women, a Maine-based non-profit. That’s quite a list of accomplishments for a young woman who didn’t speak a word of English when she arrived in Lewiston eight years ago, let alone a word of fashion lingo.The conversation, it appears, is just beginning. Source:
  15. Ben Chin, center, at a campaign event last week in Lewiston, Me. Mr. Chin is a candidate in a runoff election for mayor that will be held Tuesday. CreditTristan Spinski for The New York Times LEWISTON, Me. — This city’s high school teams have won state championships in football, hockey and basketball, but never for soccer. Then last month, the undefeated Blue Devils, made up largely of refugees from Somalia, Congo, Kenya and elsewhere, eked out a 1-0 win to claim the state crown. Just as remarkable as that story was the prequel: eight of the players grew up together in a Somali refugee camp in Kenya before immigrating to the United States. Their triumph gave this hardscrabble town something to cheer about, especially in the midst of a vituperative political season in which anti-immigrant fervor has flared both on the national stage and here in Maine, the whitest state in the country, where Lewiston is preparing to vote on Tuesday in a runoff election for mayor. The election comes as Lewiston, Maine’s second largest city, seeks to define its future against a backdrop of roiling demographic change. Because of an influx of Somali refugees starting 15 years ago — drawn here by abundant affordable housing, after unhappy relocations to other American cities — Lewiston is on the leading edge of otherwise glacial shifts in Maine’s demographics. Photo Abdi Shariff, 17, is the captain of the soccer team at Lewiston High School, which recently won the state championship.CreditTristan Spinski for The New York Times In addition to being the whitest state, Maine is also the oldest. But Lewiston’s population of 36,300 has become younger and more racially diverse. The median age here is 40, about four years younger than the state median, though still older than the national median of 37.7. The city is 86 percent white, while Maine as a whole is 93.8 percent white; the national average is 62 percent. “We’ve been through this transformation now for 15-plus years, but things continue to change,” said Phil Nadeau, the deputy city administrator in Lewiston. “More new asylum seekers are coming in than new refugees. And most asylum seekers are college-educated and have working skills. The question over time will be whether they stay. Will we lose the talent?” The nonpartisan mayoral election, which offers a sharp generational and ideological contrast, could help answer that question. It pits a two-term incumbent, Robert E. Macdonald, 68, a former Marine, Vietnam veteran, retired police detective and virulent opponent of welfare, against Ben Chin, 30, a political activist with the liberal Maine People’s Alliance and an Episcopalian lay minister; in the past he has advocated for allowing noncitizens to vote. Mayor Macdonald has cast the race as a referendum on his tenure. “People know what I’ve done,” he said in his closing remarks at a recent debate, during which he referred to his attempts to limit welfare, rehabilitate downtown Lewiston and bring in new jobs. “I can look in the mirror,” he said. Mr. Chin, a third-generation American who has been subject to some race-baiting, framed the election as a choice between uniting and dividing. “We have two roads we can go down,” he told reporters here. “Pull together, do big things, or just stay stuck and fight with each other, immigrant pitted against native-born, seniors against children, working class against the poor.” Lewiston, a former mill town along the Androscoggin River in south-central Maine, has struggled to redefine itself since its once-thriving textile mills began closing in the 1970s. Most jobs now are in health care, education and the financial sector and light industry. The latest wave of immigrants, after the Irish and French Canadians in the 1800s, began in 2001, when refugees from war-torn Somalia began relocating here. Photo Fatuma Hussein, 36, who left Somalia in 1991, arrived in Lewiston in 2001 via Georgia and is now executive director of United Somali Women of Maine.CreditTristan Spinski for The New York Times Today, 5,000 or 6,000 call Lewiston home. They have been joined by hundreds of asylum seekers from Africa. It was not an easy adjustment. In 2002, Mayor Laurier T. Raymond Jr. wrote an open letter to Somalis urging them to keep out. “This large number of new arrivals cannot continue without negative results for all,” he wrote. This prompted out-of-state white supremacists to rally here against what they called the Somali invasion. Such overt hostility is long gone. “We have moved on in ways we didn’t foresee 15 years ago,” said Fatuma Hussein, 36, who left Somalia in 1991, arrived here in 2001 via Georgia and is now executive director of United Somali Women of Maine. “People don’t ask me anymore at the grocery store, who are you and why are you here?” she said. “I’m a Lewistonian. I have seven children; five were born here. My daughter goes to Georgetown University. I am the person who grows the population of Maine.” Somali businesses have helped revitalize Lisbon Street, the main commercial thoroughfare. Tucked between the street’s historic brick and granite buildings are so many Somali shops that part of downtown is now called Little Mogadishu. Somalis have even been elected to the school board. “Lewiston hasn’t always had the best reputation,” said Abdi Shariff, 17, captain of the winning soccer team. He arrived here in 2008 from Somalia via Louisville, Ky., and is now mulling scholarship offers. “But we see now that everyone supports everyone in the city and the school.” Photo Said Mohamud, owner of the Mogadishu Store, a market he runs with his wife in Lewiston.CreditTristan Spinski for The New York Times This includes Mayor Macdonald, who has celebrated the team and been supportive of the refugees. But his strict attitude toward those on welfare is sometimes perceived as anti-immigrant, especially because of initial fears that refugees would overwhelm the welfare system. The mayor declined to be interviewed for this article. In 2009, refugees accounted for 16 percent of Lewiston’s welfare costs, according to the Lewiston Social Services Department. But in 2010, the city began seeing a steady increase in asylum seekers, and welfare costs started climbing. This year, asylum seekers accounted for 37 percent of the city’s welfare costs, while other refugees accounted for 11 percent. Mayor Macdonald, who in 2012 told the BBC that immigrants should “leave your culture at the door,” has sought to ban welfare payments to asylum seekers, saying they unfairly burden Lewiston. He has also called for the public disclosure of the names of “every individual on the dole.” At the same time, the mayor has distanced himself from racially tinged campaign episodes. This included a sign put up by a local landlord urging voters to “vote for more jobs and not more welfare.” It featured a drawing of Ho Chi Minh, the communist revolutionary in Vietnam, and said: “Don’t vote for Ho Chi Chin.” The Maine Republican Party created a blog on Tumblr with Mr. Chin’s picture in front of a city in flames. In addition, a state representative, Lawrence Lockman, a Republican from a town about 130 miles away, strung together various quotations from a lengthy sermon delivered by Mr. Chin and, in a post on Facebook, called him an anti-Christian bigot. “Chin hates America, hates Americans, and hates Christians, and he wants to allow noncitizens to vote,” he wrote. Lance Dutson, a Republican political consultant who is trying to combat what he views as extremist elements in the party, said such “xenophobic and bigoted undertones” would backfire. Mr. Macdonald has run what might be called a stealth campaign, with no events, has no campaign headquarters and no website. He has accumulated $5,800, compared with Mr. Chin’s haul of $87,800, a record for a mayor’s race in Lewiston. Mr. Chin is spending the money on an aggressive get-out-the-vote effort. While Mr. Macdonald is not running a traditional campaign, his supporters do not count him out. “He’s an incumbent, he has a longtime following, and a lot of longtime citizens like him,” said Steve Morgan, a prominent real estate broker and losing candidate in the Nov. 3 mayoral election that led to Tuesday’s runoff. “And they like that he screams about welfare.” But Mr. Chin’s supporters are just as determined. Inside the Mogadishu Store, where the aroma of warm sambusa wafts across the entryway and freezers are packed with camel meat, Said Mohamud, 56, the proprietor, who had been a chemical engineer in Somalia and even ran for president of that country, said he supported the new generation. “Macdonald is the past,” he said. “Chin is the future.” Correction: December 7, 2015 An earlier version of this article referred incorrectly to fund-raising in the Lewiston mayoral race. The $87,800 raised by Mr. Chin was a record for a mayoral race in Lewiston, not in all of Maine Source: