DEEQA CEO Condemns Somalia Monitoring Group Report as Politically Motivated
NEW YORK, March 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — DEEQA CEO Abdulkadir Nur today condemned a report of the United Nations Security Council Somalia Monitoring Group as factually wrong, highly politicized and damaging to the well-being of the Somali people and UN peace efforts in the region.
“I do not believe the report satisfies the most basic requirements of a usable, professional investigation,” Mr. Nur wrote to the Somalia Sanctions Committee, which oversees the Somalia Monitoring Group (SMG). “Instead, the report appears to be more an act in pursuit of a political goal which I cannot comprehend and which I cannot imagine to be in interests of the people of Somalia or the member states of the United Nations Security Council.”
The SMG report on Somalia first came to light March 9 through a leak to the New York Times producing a front-page story that observers speculated was intended as a pre-emptive measure to validate the now-much-criticized report prior to its official submission to the Sanctions Committee. An earlier leak to the Wall Street Journal in conjunction with the SMG’s investigation of emergency food relief efforts, among other broader issues, in Somalia became a subject of an internal enquiry at the UN, which explicitly prohibits its employees from engaging in such acts, UN sources said.
Mr. Nur, whose company has provided logistical services to international relief agencies in civil-war-torn Somalia continuously for 20 years, refuted claims specifically against DEEQA in a three-month intensive, formal exchange with the SMG mediated by international legal experts prior to the report’s publication. Mr. Nur dismissed the SMG’s inclusion nonetheless of the claims in the report as “an inexplicable and gross abuse of the ability to publish under the UN label” and as “a result of the complete absence of accountability on the part of any member in the Monitoring Group for his actions.” (The SMG was comprised of five members, two of whom apparently resigned during the investigation, one immediately after being given responsibility for the DEEQA examination, which was then turned over to an external consultant to the SMG whose credentials the company has not yet been able to establish.)
The attached statement by Mr. Nur, followed by a factual rebuttal of the SMG claims, was submitted yesterday as the Sanctions Committee gathered Security Council representatives at UN Headquarters to hear presentations by two key official critics of the report: the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia and the UN World Food Program (WFP), which is delivering humanitarian aid to help contain widespread starvation throughout the country.
In a written statement read out at the closed-door session of the Sanctions Committee, a TFG representative, characterizing some of the report’s allegations as “based recklessly on unverifiable sources,” said the government was forced to “question the report’s underlying motivations.” One allegation was described as “exaggerated to such a degree that it calls into question the motives inspiring the SMG.”
The government representative, responding to a growing view that the SMG report needs to be put aside in favor of a new, more professional examination of the situation in Somalia, said: “We strongly embrace the call for an objective inquiry to be based upon specific, credible witnesses with sufficient corroboration and upon dedication to a level of due process commensurate with the seriousness of the issues and scope of human suffering at hand.” (The full text of the statement has appeared on various Web sites, including www.hiiraan.com.)
No statement by the WFP was immediately released following yesterday’s Sanctions Committee session. However, the emergency food relief agency has posted on its Web site a 9-page letter dated March 15 firmly refuting allegations made against it by the SMG.
The letter noted gross factual errors committed by the SMG in the report and criticized the group for systematic failure to substantiate in any degree the report’s main allegations. The WFP indicated that the SMG needed to immediately address its long-standing failure to provide evidence of the allegations contained in its reports.
“In order to investigate, and if necessary correct, the allegations stated in the report, WFP requests that the evidence be produced in a complete fashion, and notes that a failure to do so could compromise the effectiveness” of anticipated new investigations. “WFP believes that such disclosure can occur with measures in place to protect the safety of witnesses in the dangerous context of Somalia.”
In the letter, the WFP also explicitly clears Mr. Nur of the principal claims made against him in the SMG report, which concerned DEEQA food deliveries conducted under contract to the WFP. “My own successful rebuttal, the WFP’s dismissal of the claims made against me by the Monitoring Group and the Somali government’s denunciation of the report as disingenuous effectively clear our company of the suspicion that the SMG sought, for some reason, to sow against us,” Mr. Nur said. “We shall now actively engage with the investigation or investigations that will be launched to repair the damage wrought by the Monitoring Group and that will hopefully call its so-called experts to account for the abomination they have created.”
March 24, 2010
TO THE HONORABLE CHAIR AND MEMBERS OF THE SECURITY COUNCIL COMMITTEE ESTABLISHED PURSUANT TO RESOLUTION 751 (1992) CONCERNING SOMALIA:
Thank you for your continued consideration regarding my concerns about the initiative of the Somalia Monitoring Group (created by UN Security Council Resolution 1853) and its highly publicized report, which we understand is the topic of discussion at today’s meeting of the Sanctions Committee. I regret that a provision for my attendance could not be made but accept the decision as consistent with existing practices. Please find attached my refutation of the several allegations in my direction contained in the report, all of which deviated from the readily accessible facts and many simply from plain reason. I respectfully request that my submission, including this cover, be annexed to the written record of today’s session so that concerned parties seeking to make an independent assessment of the Monitoring Group’s efforts may in the future consult it. In advance, I humbly beg your indulgence for the very direct and unvarnished rendering which I provide herein, as I am, indeed, heavily burdened with indignation and a sense of injustice that has been perpetrated without true purpose by the Somalia Monitoring Group.
The attached rebuttal was, in large part, already made directly to the Monitoring Group, prior to its submission of the report, with the mediation of an international law firm during an intensive formal exchange that spanned more than three months. The claims made by the Monitoring Group against both me and my wife, who is a former Minister of State under an earlier government, in the now-published report were knowingly included as false, undermining the integrity and credibility of the sanctions process and the effectiveness of the Security Council peace efforts. Though the accusations made against me were not tantamount to acts sanctionable by the UN, as I am an American citizen the specific acts attributed to me do make me potentially subject to punishment under a more immediate jurisdiction. They seriously damage my international reputation, after twenty years of consistently effective service to a wide range of global humanitarian aid agencies in Somalia besides the World Food Program, as well as create a threat to my personal security in the dangerous environment of my troubled homeland.
Because inexcusably gross factual errors, quickly pointed out by the World Food Program and the Government of Somalia, were also permitted into the storyline of the Monitoring Group’s work product, I do not believe the report satisfies the most basic requirements of a usable, professional investigation. Instead, the report appears to be more an act in pursuit of a political goal which I cannot comprehend and which I cannot imagine to be in interests of the people of Somalia or the member states of the United Nations Security Council. Thus, as a named party in the report, I fully endorse the immediate constitution of a panel of professional investigators capable of performing an objective analysis of the truly systemic threats to peace in Somalia. Moreover, I propose that an international figure of significant social stature and unassailable moral credentials be appointed to coordinate this panel. Given the risks to global security, and the increasing intransigence of Somalia’s humanitarian crisis, the era of cobbling together unsubstantiated rumor with self-serving interpretation of events into a grave tome upon which the world community is supposed to make life-and-death decisions about a long-suffering nation’s future must come to an end now. Excellency, only aggressively honest inquiry, proud truth-seeking and unwavering dedication to a fully transparent process of presenting proof is the right and commensurate reaction to the challenge of producing findings that will genuinely enable successful peace efforts in Somalia.
Both I and my wife are strongly committed to seeing this process through to the end and will not cease our efforts until we have done everything humanly possible to ensure a just outcome for ourselves and our family, the thousands of Somalis who labor in my company’s food aid transportation efforts and the millions of helpless and guiltless Somalis that we help preserve from starvation in our deeply conflicted nation. We will energetically align ourselves will all others of good will and good conscience who are seeking a resolution to Somalia’s longstanding problems. And we will confront with the full courage of our convictions all those who would transgress the code of fairness that will be the only salvation from the civil strife that wracks our country.
Excellency, we honor your efforts in the very tall tasks that confront you and pledge ourselves to the success of your labors.
FACTUAL REBUTTAL OF ALLEGATIONS RAISED IN 10 MARCH 2010 REPORT OF THE MONITORING GROUP ON SOMALIA (S/2010/91) PURSUANT TO SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION 1853 (2008)
SUBMITTED BY: Abdulkadir M. Nur and DEEQA Construction & Water Well Drilling Co. Ltd. (“DEEQA”)
The following represents a summary response to the most significant allegations made against Mr. Nur and/or DEEQA in the March 10 report of the Somalia Monitoring Group (the “Report”), Additional documentary evidence is available for review upon request. Much of this information and supporting documentation was provided to the Somalia Monitoring Group (“SMG”) by Mr. Nur and legal counsel over a period of several months prior to the publication of the Report. For unknown reasons, the SMG has not only disregarded this objective evidence in its analysis but has completely failed to even acknowledge receiving the documentation and information that rebuts the allegations made in the Report.
(1) Allegations of a “de facto cartel” are false, as is the suggestion that Mr. Nur’s professional and personal success is solely attributable to DEEQA’s WFP contracts.
(Report, Paragraphs 238-239)
- DEEQA and the other WFP contractors are independent competitors on bids for WFP contracts; DEEQA has not been awarded all contracts it has bid for since 1997.
- Mr. Nur and DEEQA have worked for decades in Somalia with multiple agencies including ADRA, ICRC, CARE and UNICEF. Mr. Nur was the first contractor to work with WFP and helped devise the current bond system that permits the WFP to operate successfully in Somalia.
- Public statements by the WFP refute the SMG’s claims that the 3 contractors received 80% of contracts awarded, placing it closer to 60%. The dangerous environment in Somalia limits the number of companies willing or able to carry out the WFP’s important work.
- Until now, DEEQA has an unblemished record with respect to food deliveries. The risk to Mr. Nur and DEEQA’s employees was greatly increased by the September 2009 and March 2010 leaks to the media about the SMG investigation. By example, in January 2010, some of DEEQA’s employees in Mogadishu were kidnapped and one was murdered, demonstrating that DEEQA is certainly not aligned with insurgent groups.
- Mr. Nur has not dominated the WFP contracting system. Humanitarian aid delivery is only one portion of the work in which Mr. Nur has been involved in, which includes construction, water well drilling, shipping, irrigation systems and other work.
(2) References to arms purchases and money printing allegations contained in prior
Monitoring Group reports are misleading. (Report Paragraph 239 and fn. 121)
Inexplicably, the Report references earlier reports by prior manifestations of the SMG. These references to earlier SMG reports mentioning Mr. Nur and Ms. Ali are misleading, exceed the scope of the current mandate, and appear to be designed to unfairly implicate them in alleged prior misconduct:
- The April 2008 SMG report stated an unsourced allegation that Mr. Nur was believed to have provided arms “wish lists” to arms traders on December 20 and 25, 2007 and to have purchased arms on or about December 28, 2007. Mr. Nur has passport stamps and a flight itinerary showing that he was not in Somalia on the dates in question.
- Mr. Nur has copies of e-mail correspondence showing that he refuted these allegations prior to publication of the April 2008 report and was assured by the members of the SMG that the allegations would not be included in the final report. When the April 2008 report was published without removing the allegations, SMG members apologized for what they described as a regrettable error. Mr. Nur’s efforts to seek retraction through diplomatic and other channels were unavailing.
- The citation to a 2003 SMG report that mentions Ms. Ali is equally misleading. That report noted an allegation made by unnamed Indonesian police officials that Ms. Ali in 2002 had placed an order for counterfeit Somali currency.
- When approached by the SMG in 2003, Ms. Ali denied the baseless allegation, explaining that she had travelled to Indonesia in 2001 as Minister of State of the TNG in an effort to investigate and halt the shipment of counterfeit currency.
- Ms. Ali further explained that she had obtained as part of her government mission an MOU from the Indonesian money printing company, stipulating that any remaining supplies of money would be destroyed. The SMG failed to respond to Ms. Ali’s documentation supporting her version of events and her offer to supply her entire file regarding the matter.
- Ultimately, the unsupported allegation was printed in the April 2003 report. Although the report cited Ms. Ali’s denial, it left the clear impression that Ms. Ali’s denial was unsubstantiated.
(3) Neither Mr. Nur nor DEEQA maintains a “private militia.” (Report Paragraph 240)
Although DEEQA has used unarmed patrolmen to provide limited security to its warehouses and office, neither Mr. Nur nor the company maintain armed support. Notably, the SMG provides no specifics with respect to the scope or source of this allegation and instead elects to use the inflammatory term “militia” without regard for the facts.
(4) Mr. Nur and DEEQA do not control WFP Shipments through the El Ma’aan Port, which has been closed since 2006. (Report Paragraph 241)
- It is public knowledge that the El Ma’aan port has been closed since 2006, a fact ignored by the SMG. Thus, the port has not been used for delivery of humanitarian aid since 2005, at a time when the volume of aid shipments was significantly smaller.
- El Ma’aan is a natural seaport that serves only as an alternative to the more commercially viable Mogadishu port.
- Mr. Nur publicly voiced his opposition to attempts to reopen El Ma’aan port in 2009, expressing his view that the port’s limited commercial viability did not justify its reopening.
(5) Allegations that the September 2008 looting incident was staged are not supported by the facts or common sense. (Report Paragraphs 244-245, fn. 126)
Mr. Nur and his counsel provided extensive information and evidence to the SMG proving that the September 2008 incident was not staged that did not (and could not have) financially enrich Mr. Nur:
- Mr. Nur’s company is paid by WFP for transportation services; it does not buy and resell food to the WFP; any food lost while in DEEQA’s possession must be replaced at DEEQA’s expense, thereby reducing the profit made by DEEQA on its transportation services fees.
- Mr. Nur provided a summary of DEEQA’s costs, which showed that the company lost more than $632,000 as a result of this incident. This included not only the cost of recovering the looted food, but also the costs of investigating the incident and advertising to encourage the return of stolen food.
- It defies logic that Mr. Nur could have profited by staging a looting incident; the SMG theory that Mr. Nur “resold” the recovered food to WFP, after acquiring it on the open market at a lower cost, reflects a misunderstanding about the WFP contracts.
- Mr. Nur has provided the SMG with extensive documentation (Food Recovery Certificates and waybills executed by more than eight WFP employees) proving that the entire quantity of looted food was recovered and returned to WFP.
- Mr. Nur also provided the SMG with a signed statement by five clan elders and the former President of Somalia, each of whom assisted in the efforts to recover the looted food.
- The SMG initially informed Mr. Nur that he was alleged to have paid a WFP employee to fabricate Food Recovery Certificates. Mr. Nur rebutted the claim with extensive documentation showing that at least eight WFP employees were involved in verifying the recovered food delivery. Mr. Nur also showed the SMG that this allegation was inconsistent with a theory that he “resold” the looted food to the WFP at a profit. The allegation regarding fabricated Food Recovery Certificates is not found in the Monitoring Group Report.
- The report alleges that the looting was instigated by Abdikariim “Qoslaaye” Haashi but such a person does not exist. It is public knowledge that Abdikariim Haashi led the looting effort, but he is not known by the nickname “Qoslaaye.” Upon inquiry, we have learned that “Qoslaaye” is an entirely different individual. Mr. Nur and DEEQA are not affiliated with either individual, but the error calls into further question the accuracy and reliability of the report.
- The movement of 35 trucks in this area was not unusual–as explained to the SMG, it was DEEQA’s practice to send a few trucks at a time through any dangerous areas, allowing the remainder of the caravan to follow if the area was clear. This area appeared secure to DEEQA personnel on the morning of the delivery.
- The report claims that the agreement Mr. Nur reached with WFP to return the looted food was somehow tied to a guarantee of future WFP contracts, but this is both illogical and patently incorrect. Although the WFP withheld payment to DEEQA for prior food deliveries until the looted food was returned, it did not in any way agree to new, future contracts with DEEQA.
(6) The allegations regarding a conspiracy with SAACID to divert food from the Karaan warehouse are not supported by the objective facts and documentation.
(Report Paragraphs 243, 246-48, 249, 250-52)
- Numerous businesses in a variety of industries were permitted to remove their assets from the Karaan district of Mogadishu during this time period, as a result of extensive negotiations between Shabaab and clan elders.
- A variety of WFP contractors other than DEEQA moved commodities out of the DEEQA warehouse during this period. As reflected in documents provided to the SMG, more than two-thirds of the food transported out of the Karaan warehouse was moved by WFP contractors other than DEEQA.
- Only a very small fraction of the food transported by DEEQA in 2008 and 2009 was ever delivered to SAACID.
- A small fraction of the food from the DEEQA Karaan warehouse during the summer of 2009 ultimately went to SAACID, and it was transported to SAACID by two other WFP contractors, not DEEQA.
- With respect to alleged sales of food from the Hamar-weyne warehouse in the Bakaara market, DEEQA provided extensive documentation reflected commodities transfers out of this warehouse. Documentation showed numerous contractors, not just DEEQA, moved food out of the warehouse during the summer of 2009.
- Documentation reveals that two shipments of “family kits” and other non-food items were transported from the warehouse to a humanitarian organization located at Bakaara during this time, which may explain alleged eyewitness accounts of deliveries from Hamar-weyne to the Bakaara area.