October 9, 2008

Somalia: Al-Shabab Ready for Talks Over Closure of Mogadishu Airport

Text of report by Somalia's private commercial Radio Shabeelle on 9 October

[Presenter] Al-Shabab has said they are ready to hold talks regarding the closure of Mogadishu airport in which they have banned all flights from landing at the airport. The group also distanced itself from threats issued against Hawiye clan elders. Abdullahi Yasin Jama has more details.

[Jama] Speaking to radio stations in Mogadishu via the telephone, Al-Shabab's spokesman Shaykh Muqtar Robow Abu Mansur has said it is possible for them to allow the Mogadishu airport resume its normal operations if talks are held to that effect.

[Abu Mansur] The decision we made about the closure of the airport is not like a Koranic revelation [which cannot be altered]. It is possible that we amend it, if the public sits down together as we are working towards the common good of all.

[Jama] The spokesman also said one of the airline companies has offered to bribe them in order to lift the ban on the airport and said they refused to accept it as he civilian population funds their group. Abu Mansur also praised the spokesman for Hawiye Cultural and Unity Council, Ahmad Diriye Ali, whom who he said has suffered because of them. Abu Mansur also denied Al-Shabab has threatened the clan elder.

[Abu Mansur] Some of their tactics [words indistinct] among them lies being published on the internet the last of which was published in some websites alleging that Al-Shabab have called Ahmad Diriye an apostate. Al-Shabab has not said anything against Ahmad Diriye. His claim regarding the statements made against him the other day was not done by an Al-Shabab member, we did not plan it. Frankly speaking, we have respect for the clan elders who have defended the Jihad and the Mujahidin and were as a result arrested and their homes raided. Those spreading the rumours intend to foster blood between us. Another rumour being spread by the websites is that I have said we will fight Shaykh Sharif, that too was a lie. The public should therefore understand some of these rumours that are being spread by some of the same apostates who have created them.

[Jama] He also said there are men who are pretending to belong to their group and are robbing public vehicles and that they will take stern measures against them. The spokesman added they have apprehended individuals who have killed and robbed people in Mogadishu and will sentence them as per the Islamic Law.

Originally published by Radio Shabeelle, Mogadishu in Somali 0500 9 Oct 08.

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