Hargeysa, Somaliland, November 15, 2008 (SL Times) – There are growing fears in Somaliland that the increasingly pro-Al-Shabaab news broadcasts by the BBC's Somali Service would lead to the spread and acceptance of terrorism among the younger generation.
Somalilanders have particularly been alarmed by the news that in the period following the October 29 terrorist attacks in Hargeysa, over 70 youngsters of their own had crossed into Somalia to join Al-Shabaab.
Often confronted with zero prospects for decent education or employment, an increasing number of young Somalilanders have been leaving the country in the last several years with the aim of migrating to Western Europe . Only this year over 50 young Somalilanders were reported dead after the boat that was supposed to carry them to the shores of Europe actually capsized in the middle of the Mediterranean sea .
But since the rise of Somalia 's so-called Islamists in 2006, some young Somalilanders have apparently been attracted by the practice of terrorism as an opportunity for achieving a much superior level of spiritual satisfaction and self-glory.
Most of the youngsters who opted for terrorism had reportedly been influenced to do so mainly after listening to the constant glorification of Al Shabaab fighters in the editorial content of the BBC radio's Somali service.
The problem is that the BBC is the only media outlet with the capacity to cover all Somali speaking territories in the Horn of Africa and because of this unique geographical reach, its daily Somali news broadcast is the only source of information available to most Somalis.
While Britain is now trying to push through the UN Security Council a resolution imposing new sanctions on anyone contributing to violence and instability in Somalia , ironically it is the British government-funded BBC that is practically more responsible than any other medium for spreading terrorist agenda and inciting younger Somalis to violence.
Since the last ten years the BBC's Somali Service has been tightly run by Yusuf Garad who hails from the Ayr subclan of Somalia 's Habar Gidir clan.
Since assuming the editorship of the Somali broadcast, Mr. Garad has often shown a tendency to harness the power of the BBC to serve the political interests of his Ayr/HabarGidir clan.
Garad's bias toward his clan came fully in the open in the year 2000 when AbdiQasim Salad, a fellow Ayr, was being groomed in Arta , Djibouti , as president of the now defunct Transitional National Government of Somalia.
After Abdi Qasim's TNG was replaced in 2004 by the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia headed by Abdillahi Yusuf, Mr. Garad didn't hesitate much before embarking on a policy of inciting the public against the new administration as a puppet for ‘infidels'.
The BBC's coverage of the fighting between the Union of Islamic Courts and Mogadishu 's warlords in 2006 was so biased toward the courts that it speeded up the total defeat of the warlords.
The rout of the warlords paved the way for the rise of Hassan Dahir Aweys and Adan Sheikh Ayro, two ruthless terrorists who were linked to the murder of at least 4 aid workers in Somaliland and the BBC's Kate Peyton as well as a Swedish Journalist in Mogadishu . Both Aweys and Ayro belonged to Garad's Ayr subclan.
Since the 3 terrorist blasts that killed over 30 Somalilanders and wounded about 40 people, in Hargeysa on October 29, the BBC's news broadcast about the incident tended to portray the victims as the evildoers while the suspected perpetuators of the mass killing crime are shown as victims.
In one such instance one Ayr broadcaster at Bush House claimed that refugees from Somalia in Somaliland are being indiscriminately targeted for hostile and criminal actions by the authorities as well as ordinary Somalilanders.
The broadcaster Mohamed Adde didn't attribute his allegations to any source. The only incident he could cite as an evidence of mistreatment of Somalia 's refugees was the arrest of a woman called Ayan Sheikh Hassan who the police suspected of in providing shelter for the suicide bombers in Hargeysa.
In the same report Adde had interviewed a young woman who he said was Ayan's neighbour. The young lady whose real identity was not disclosed by Adde claimed that Ayan was a good person who would harm no one.
This deliberately distorting and incorrect reporting could have triggered a mayhem.
The spokesperson of Somalia 's refugees in Somaliland was quick enough in coming out publically to refute the BBC claims that people from Somalia were being mistreated in Somaliland following late October's terrorist attacks in Hargeysa.
Although Yusuf Garad himself went on air the following day to apologize for broadcasting a baseless report, however no action has been taken so far against the presenter of the said news item. Neither it is likely that the incident would prompt an investigation by higher authorities within the BBC's world service. Nor it is expected to weaken Yusuf Garad's resolve to continue using the BBC as a forum for promoting Al-Shabaab's terrorist agenda.