Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Fancy Mogadishu Hotel is like the setting for a novel--but Reality is more Gripping and Horrifying

The Sahafi Hotel, before the attack

"If there is one hotel everyone knows in Mogadishu, it is the Sahafi. Warlords and militants alike used to hang out and plot schemes in the lounge and courtyard while sipping grapefruit juice and pulling apart camel meat steaks."

"...the hotel's owner, Abdirashid Ilgayte, used to welcome guests into his incense-scented office just off the hotel's entrance and regale them with stories of violence and intrigue from Somalia's darkest days..."

Sounds like the beginning of a spy novel. You can almost inhale those succulent camel meat steaks pulling tenderly from the bone...

But instead of the enticing opening to a juicy intrigue, this is a NY Times news story, dated November 2, reporting the latest bloody attack by "one of Al Queda's most murderous offshoots," the Shabab, who rammed an exploding car through the hotel's front gate to allow entry to a cluster of terrorists who shot everyone in their path, then roamed the floors looking for more to kill. The murderers held the charred, rubble-filled hotel for hours; a second car explosion in front two hours after the first wounding or killing several more people, many of whom had come as reporters to the scene.

The original rampage occurred at dawn; "By 11 am, African Union troops in Somalia, along with government forces, overpowered the attackers and shot them dead."

The Sahafi Hotel, under siege
This is just the latest in a series of hotel attacks the Times calls "one of the hallmarks of the Shabab, who have killed scores in Mogadishu in recent years by overwhelming security guards at the gates and then sending in suicidal fighters." The article, by Mohammed Ibrahim and Jeffrey Gettleman, notes, "most of their victims have been fellow Somali Muslims."

We in America listen to the World Series and plan our Sunday outings, while the rest of the world endures a reality we cannot fathom.

"Mogadishu may be safer than it used to be but it is still not safe," the news article continues. "The Shabab once controlled much of the city, bull-whipping women and terrorizing the population by enforcing a harsh version  of Islamic law." The writers observe that the Shabab "seemed to have perfected mass murder on the cheap, including an attack on a university in Kenya in April in which four young Shabab gunmen killed more than 140 people." On the cheap!?

Did you read this article? Are you as appalled and horrified as I am that this kind of ruthless extermination is almost reported ho-hum--just another instance of ubiquitous violence and murder to further an extremist vision of Islam aimed at the entire world? What are the churches and universities supporting BDS (boycot, divestment and sanctions) against Israel doing to combat this much more lethal and festering Islamism?  Then again, it's easy to protest a democracy; not so simple to cut down terrorist extremists whose suicidal tactics prove their complete disregard for life.

I can pray; I can write blogs pointing out these atrocities. These actions seem lame given the enormity of the enemy and the virulent expansion of this deadly power. Then our privileged life happens and we toss the day's newspaper into the recycle bin.