by Mike Bouwer, Worthy News South Africa Correspondent
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA (Worthy News)-- Al-Shabaab, an Islamic militant organization with close ties to al-Qaeda, recently banned three Christian Aid organizations from Somalia on charges of "actively propagating Christianity", Worthy News has learned.
Al-Shabaab ordered World Vision, Adventist Development and Relief Agency and Diakonia to immediately cease operations.
"Acting as missionaries under the guise of humanitarian work, the organizations have been spreading their corrupted ideologies in order to taint the pure creed of the Muslims in Somalia," the militant group said in a statement Monday. "Along with their missionary work, the proliferation of corruption and indecency has become prevalent as a result of their presence," the statement said, warning other non-governmental groups against engaging in "similar activities".
As signatories of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement code of conduct, the organizations all adhere to specific polices against proselytizing when distributing aid.
"World Vision guards were disarmed and their keys were taken. Nothing was removed from the offices, although al-Shabaab representatives occupied the offices. World Vision is surprised and disappointed by the move, based on false accusations of spreading Christianity", according to a statement released by World Vision.
Aid desperately needed
There are more than 3.6 million people, 700,000 of whom are children, affected by years of drought, corruption, and civil war who desperately require humanitarian aid. World Vision has supported development work and humanitarian programmes in South Central Somalia for 18 years. These programs have now been halted while World Vision plans its next steps.
In a statement released by Adventist Development and Relief Agency a spokesman said that its work in Somalia was solely focused on implementing emergency relief and development since 1992. More than 650,000 Somalis benefited from the group's humanitarian work in 2008.
There was no immediate response from Diakonia, a joint international development organization of five Swedish churches.
Terrorists Control Somalia
Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen ( "Movement of Warrior Youth"), more commonly known as al-Shabaab ("The Youth") is an Islamist Insurgency group in the ongoing war in Somalia. As of summer 2010 the group is said to control most of the southern and central parts of Somalia, including "a large swath" of the capital, Mogadishu where it is said to have imposed its own "harsh" form of Sharia law.
The group describes itself as waging jihad against "enemies of Islam" and is engaged in combat against the Somali Transitional Federal Government and African Union Mission to Somalia. It has reportedly "declared war on the U.N and on Western non-governmental organizations" that distribute food aid in Somalia, killing 42 relief workers in the past two years of 2008 and 2009. It has been designated a terrorist organization by several western governments and security services, and described as having "ties to al-Qaeda” which their leaders denied until early 2010.
Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for twin blasts in Uganda during the World Cup final that killed 76 people, and resulted in the arrest of three suspected members after a cell phone was found alongside an unexploded suicide vest, has already banned several U.N. agencies and aid groups.
The ultraconservative and militant al-Shabaab draws comparisons to Afghanistan's Taliban, and the incident comes only days after the killings last Thursday of 10 members of a medical mission in Afghanistan. The Taliban claimed the group were spies and tried to convert Muslims.