XAWAALA: A CHALLENGE TO THE WESTERN
By M.M. Afrah,
EXCLUSIVE TO BANADIR.COM
is direct challenge to some of the Western Media that frequently
employs slanted articles in an attempt to decapitate the Hawaala
understand how these media people jump the gun about a system
that feeds hundreds of thousands of skeleton-looking mothers
and their emaciated children languishing in refugee camps.
It would be wrong, grotesque and inhuman to cut off this lifeline.
One could only imagine what this is going to do to these innocent
people, mass starvation without doubt.
the Italian daily "CORRIERE DELLA SERA" and a host
of North American newspapers allege that Xawaala (or Hawaala)
is a money laundering system for terrorist network throughout
the world. They allege that these terrorists have links with
Osama bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda organization.
truth is that Xawaala is an informal banking system based
on trust. But in the case of the Somalis it is more than trust
for the simple reason that they had no government for more
than 11 years; all banking, postal services and other financial
institutions ceased to exist in 1990 with a brutal civil war
that still drags on and on. The country had been beset by
all the evils that plague humanity - military dictatorship,
wars, pestilence, disease, famine, floods… There was no escaping
it, and no matter how much emergency aid was poured into it,
the vicious circle could not be crushed, even by the wealthiest
nation on earth. Law and order completely broke down.
hundred or fifty dollar remittances sent by Somalis in the
Diaspora to their desperate families goes a long way, that's
if they survive the carnage perpetrated by ruthless warlords
and their henchmen. This is so because those few lucky families
who receive remittances from abroad are susceptible to marauding
gangs of robbers. They are practically sitting targets and
there is no government to protect them. According to many
Somalis these gunmen who rob the hungry poor are comparable
to international terrorism and that the Western media should
give prominence to their gruesome activities instead of plugging
into the Addis Ababa propaganda mill against Somalia. It is
like kicking a man who is already lying down, gasping for
this background, I urge my colleagues in the Western press
to send their investigative reporters to Mogadishu to witness
the horror faced by the inhabitants there. I can guarantee
that they will witness hundreds of trigger-happy teenagers
on gun-mounted battle-wagons, locally known as technicals,
roam the streets of the devastated city, shooting at anything
that moved. Thousands of non-combatants are still fleeing
from one battle zone to another only to be shot by snipers
on rooftops. They will witness makeshift barricades manned
by 12 year old boys with AK-47 assault rifles, exhorting money
from already starving population, or else…
will see there could no longer be called a city. The clan
war literally leveled the entire area from the main airport
to the residential section. All public services had disappeared.
When the electric plant had been destroyed ten years ago so
had the telephone, postal and banking systems. The city also
teemed with internally displaced people from the hinterland
to challenge people for what food remained. Mogadishu, once
the Pearl of the Indian Ocean, now resembles war-time Berlin
is however one bright side to this unending tragedy. Some
enterprising Somalis, mostly returnees from the Diaspora have
established state of the art communications service, including
a vibrant TV station and a number of radio stations. Your
reporters can call anywhere in the world by satellite phone
at rock bottom price. They should not for any reason miss
the Bakaaraha open air arms bazaar where they could buy everything
from computer laptops, cell phones, TV sets to brand new machineguns.
bulk of the population depends on the Xawaala banking system
without which they would certainly die of starvation.
journalists would be required to hire armed bodyguards on
a 4-wheel drive Land Cruisers to protect them from free lance
gunmen who target foreign journalists whom they believe carry
a lot of US dollars and expensive cameras. There are no Hilton,
Sheraton or Ritz Hotels, but the best journalists dig is The
Saxafi Hotel at K4. The man who runs it is one of the local
wheeler-dealers and a go-getter. No Credit Cards. He accepts
only cash, and of course in US dollars.
luck your reporters would survive and would be looking at
Pulitzer Prizes after their Somalia assignments!
said that, I cannot deny the fact that international terrorists
have been engaged in money laundering through this informal
banking system on a massive scale, but the amounts involved
are beyond the million dollar mark, mainly from oil rich countries.
But it now seems that the Western media have eyes only for
the pittances occasionally send by hard working Somalis in
the Diaspora to their starving families by following the catch
phrase "Dir Waa lagaa daran yahee". WHY? It is evident
that someone somewhere is trying to murk the murkier Somali
waters for their vested interests.
message to the editors of major Western newspapers from a
former Somali editor-in-chief: Dear Colleagues, we frequently
read Muslim terrorists but never Christian terrorists of which
there are many -- The Irish Republican Army (IRA) and ETA
Basque separatists in Spain for example. Aren't they Christian
terrorists, killing and maiming innocent civilians in the
name of religion? Why can't you call them Christian terrorists?
WHY THE DOUBLE STANDARD?
Copies of this commentary are emailed to the Editors of major
newspapers throughout Western Europe and North America. Meanwhile
visitors to this Website are free to send their comment on
the Western media's wrong perception on the Xawaalla.
Afrah, Toronto (Canada)