Somalia, East Africa
Political Leader: President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed
Religions: Islam 99.9%, Christianity 0.1%
Persecution Ranking: No. 4
Number of Terrorist Groups: 5
Acts of Terrorism: 73; Casualties: 124
Percent of Corruption: Insufficient Data to Rank
% of People in Poverty: Not Ranked
Somalia, officially the Somali Republic and formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic, is located on the Horn of Africa in East Africa. It is bordered by Djibouti to the northwest, Kenya on its southwest, the Gulf of Aden with Yemen on its north, the Indian Ocean at its east and Ethiopia to the west. Somalia is located on the east coast of Africa on and north of the equator between the Gulf of Aden on the north and Indian Ocean on the east. Together with Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Djibouti it is often referred to as the Horn of Africa.
Somalia’s weak central government, protracted state of violent instability, long unguarded coastline, porous borders and proximity to the Arabian Peninsula made it a potential location for international terrorists in 2006 seeking a transit or launching point for conducting operations in Somalia or elsewhere.
The rise of the Council of Islamic Courts (CIC) and their expansion of control into southern and central Somalia created a more permissive operating environment and safe haven for foreign terrorists. In June, the CIC gained control of Mogadishu and were initially welcomed as bringing a modicum of peace and stability to the city. Over the course of the following months, the broader CIC organization was hijacked by al Shabaab (The Youth), a small, extremist group affiliated with Al Qaeda that consists of radicalized young men, between 20 and 30 years of age. Many of its senior leaders are believed to have trained and fought with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.
Al Shabaab was reputed to be extremely violent and brutal, and its members are suspected of murdering an Italian nun in Mogadishu in September 2006, targeted assassinations of dozens of Somali nationals inside Somalia, including the murder of peace activist Abdulqadir Yahya Ali in July 2005 and the murder of foreign aid workers in the self-declared Republic of Somaliland in late 2003 to early 2004. In late June, the CIC elected Hassan Dahir Aweys chairman of the CIC Shura Council. Aweys is designated as a terrorist by the United States and the United Nations because of his links to Al Qaeda, the Taliban or Usama bin Laden.
Among the foreign Al Qaeda operatives believed to have enjoyed protection by the CIC and al Shabaab leadership are individuals wanted for the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania and a 2002 hotel bombing in Kenya, including Fazul Abdallah Mohammed (aka Harun Fazul), Abu Talha al-Sudani and Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan.
At the end of 2006, the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), backed by Ethiopia, succeeded in ending CIC control of Mogadishu and southern and central Somalia. Regional efforts to bring about national reconciliation and establish peace and stability in Somalia are ongoing. Although the capability of the TFG and other Somali local and regional authorities to carry out counterterrorism activities was limited, some have taken actions.
Somalia is comprised of 99.9% Muslims and only 0.1% of the population are Christians. The country has an entirely Muslim population and in some areas Shari’a law is implemented. Church properties were nationalized and missionaries expelled in the 1970s. Existing churches are permitted by the government so long as do not evangelize Muslims. All Muslim children, by law have to attend Islam classes in school, even if in private Christian missionary schools.
Challenges for Christians:
Somalia is ranked No. 4 among nations that are the worst persecutors of Christians based on Open Doors 2007 “World Watch List.” On May 11, 2007, Islamist Web sites attributed the kidnapping of two aid workers in Puntland to the aid workers having allegedly used the provision of assistance as a pretext for proselytizing. Similar claims were made against Ethiopians who the Islamists have stated were attempting to Christianize the country as part of their military occupation. On September 17, 2006, Leonella Sgorbati, an Italian nun, was killed at a hospital in Mogadishu by gunmen, hours after a leading Muslim cleric, Sheikh Abukar Hassan, condemned Pope Benedict XVI for his remarks on Islam and violence. Hassan declared, “Whoever offends our Prophet Muhammad should be killed on the spot by the nearest Muslim.”
- Pray for God to defeat the plans of Al Qaeda, al Shabaab and other terrorist groups operating in Somalia. Pray that the demonic forces that are using these terrorist groups like puppets will be toppled, and that the people will be set free to worship the Lord. Pray that their leaders turn to Christianity. (1 Timothy 2:1–4)
- Pray for Somalia’s government to stabilize and become vigilant against combating terrorism.
- Pray that the influence of violent groups operating in neighboring countries will not spread to Somalia. (2 Timothy 2:24–26)
- Thank God that Somaliland in the northwest has been able to stabilize the region and restore order.
- As Christians immigrate out, Christianity is projected to slide from 2% of the population in mid-1995 to 0.7% of the population in 2025. Pray that Christianity will not be snuffed out of Somalia.
- Somalis are desperate for peace. Pray that peace would come and that God would be glorified in it.
- Although the majority of the population are Muslim, the greed and fighting between Islamic groups has contributed to the civil war. Some people are turning to more radical Islamic groups but many are totally disillusioned with Islam. Pray that they would find Jesus and find a real, dynamic and consistent faith.
- Pray for the protection and safety of those delivering vital food aid and medical care.
- The Somali church has been driven totally underground; some leaders have been named on a hit list for execution. Pray that God would protect them and that they would remain strong in their faith.
Source: The World Factbook