U.S. Congressman Visits Somalia; First Visit By Member Of Congress In Many Years


U.S. media is reporting that Congressman Keith Ellison make the first visit to Somalia in many years by a member of Congress. According to an AP report:

Feb 19, 2013  MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — A U.S. congressman visited Somalia’s capital on Tuesday, the first visit in years by a member of Congress to what until recently was considered one of the world’s most dangerous cities. Keith Ellison, a Democrat from Minnesota, said his visit to Mogadishu fulfilled a request from his constituents with ties to Somalia. Minnesota has one of the largest populations of Somali-Americans in the U.S. Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, noted that the U.S. government in mid-January recognized the Somali government for the first time since the country fell into anarchy in 1991. ‘We’ve seen 20 years of warlordism, 20 years of terrorism, of refugees streaming across the border into every neighboring country, piracy in the gulf,’ Ellison told The Associated Press in a phone interview from neighboring Kenya. ‘But a stable Somalia will bring this all to an end, and I think we need to be a part of the solution. I’m telling you, investing money in Somalia is sending good money after good. We should now see Somalia as a trading partner and a partner of educational exchanges.’ Ellison was greeted by Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. The president said that Ellison’s visit was a big day for Somalia. Mogadishu has experienced about 18 months of relative peace, after the August 2011 ouster of the Islamic extremists of al-Shabab from the capital by African Union forces. Following the advice of security advisers, Ellison did not travel beyond Mogadishu’s airport complex, the most secure part of the city, but he said he wished he had been able to and hopes to on a future trip. He said he never felt in any danger. One of the issues Ellison met with Somali officials about was the financial remittances often sent by Somalis in the U.S. back to family members in Somalia.

Read the rest here.

Ellison is the first Muslim-American to be elected to Congress. Previous posts have discussed the controversy over his trip to Mecca which was funded by the Muslim American Society, a well-known U.S. Muslim Brotherhood group close to the Egyptian organization.

A post from January reported that the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) had recently hosted the newly elected President of Somalia in a meeting that included U.S. government officials, notably Rashad Hussain the U.S. Envoy to the OIC, and a representative of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), both Islamic organizations being part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. A post from last September reported that international leaders were calling the election of Hassan Sheikh Mohamud “a great step forward” for Somalia. The BBC report  that was the subject of the September post described Mr. Mohamud, 56, as

…a civic activist who founded a university in Mogadishu and has worked for several national and international peace and development organizations. He has links to al-Islah, Somalia’s branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.’ 

A 2007 article on the  Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood  website confirms that Al-Islah is, in fact, the Somali branch of the Global Muslim Brotherhood. A Somali web portal recently described Al-Islah as follows:

Al-Islah, the internationally-recognized MB outfit, can best be described as a small organization with an elitist bent. Many of the rank- and- file members are educated and have no commonality with the average Guled or Maryam. Whereas the Egyptian MB shares the same elitist quality with its brethren in Somalia, it was nevertheless able to articulate its political and social agendas with the Egyptian masses. Al-Islah, on the other hand, has generally steered of being part of Somalia’s political process because it lacked vision, grass-roots support among the masses, and a willingness to cooperate with other–and in some cases bigger– Islamic movements in the country. For the last two decades, al-Islah has distinguished itself by telling the international community that it is not Salafi, and hence militant. The leadership has failed to define its movement other than reciting that it is not Al-Ittihad al-Islami (AIAI) or al-Shabab.

 A post from February 2009 discussed the Muslim Brotherhood ties of the previous Somali President.

For more info on Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, go here.

For a self-description of Islah, go here.

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