October 9, 2010
Hassan, a Somali-born Canadian, has spent three sleepless nights and days, waiting for his phone to ring or beep with word that torture victim Ismael Khalif Abdulle had made it out. Somalia has not had a stable government in almost two decades, but the latest fighting has pitted the internationally recognized Transitional Federal Government against Al Shabab, a group of Islamic insurgents aligned with Al Qaeda. Ismael’s story was first told in a January Toronto Star article describing the rise of the Shabab.
Abdirashid Hashi, a former Toronto journalist who had moved back to Somalia to serve as a communications director for President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, had brought Ismael for an interview to the fortified Mogadishu government compound known as Villa Somalia. He wanted to get the story out about just how barbaric the Shabab could be. He believed that message was especially important for the Somali youth of Toronto’s diaspora, since at least five young men had recently left their Canadian homes, seduced by the Shabab’s call to jihad and following the paths of others from the U.S., Europe and Australia.