Hargeisa — Somali leaders and citizens expressed shock and condemnation after a young man shot Sheikh Abdulkadir Nur Farah inside Badar Mosque in Garowe during Asr prayer last Friday (February 15th).
Farah was shot in the back as he was kneeling to pray.
Hours later, Puntland regional President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole publicly blamed al-Shabaab for the assassination of the prominent Somali sheikh, announcing the capture of Abdirahman Hussein Jama Bile in connection with the murder.
On Saturday, Somaliland police apprehended two more suspects in Las Anod believed to have been involved in the assassination.
"One of the two men we have in our custody is believed to be directly involved in last week's murder of the late Sheikh Abdulkadir Nur Farah, while his accomplice had facilitated his escape," Abdullahi Said Guleid, deputy commander of police in Sool, told Dawan newspaper.
He said the suspects were arrested as they drove into the city, approximately 150 kilometres west of Garowe. The men have been transferred to Hargeisa and are under investigation, Guleid said.
A solution to extremism:
Religious leaders across Somalia condemned the killing and urged citizens to find a solution to extremism.
"We condemn the killing," said Sheikh Mubarak Haji Nur of Buro in Somaliland. "It is against principles of Islam and [Somali] culture."
Nur also called for Somali and Muslim religious leaders to stand together against those who spill innocent blood.
Sheikh Ahmed Abdisamad, a cleric in Puntland and head of the executive committee of the al-Itisaam Council, a religious group that has vowed to fight the spread of al-Shabaab's ideology, announced Tuesday (February 19th) that he and other religious leaders are organising a major conference in the coming days to conduct a study to better understand the causes that lead to extremism in Somalia and to provide religion-based solutions that will be shared with the public.
Farole and Somali Minister of Interior Affairs Mohamed Mohamud Guled said they welcomed and would give their complete support to the sheikhs' conference.
Abdisamad also praised the Somaliland authorities for apprehending the suspects right away. He urged regional administrations across Somalia to engage citizens to be more effective against al-Shabaab.
To fight extremism effectively and find comprehensive solutions, Somali communities must work together to address all underlying issues, he said. When disagreements or problems arise, people should turn to established intellectual and political leadership.
"Our tribes, clerics, provinces, business people, soldiers and all sections of the public must come together for the same purpose," he told Sabahi.
Sheikh Abdinasir Haji Ahmed of Las Anod also blamed al-Shabaab for the murder. "The sheikh was killed by monsters in al-Shabaab, particularly the Amniyad faction that is characterised as outcasts that kill Muslims."
Farah laid to rest:
Farah was buried in the northern graveyard of Garowe on Saturday, attended by clerics from across Somalia, citizens, and representatives from the Somali government and the Puntland administration.
Before his death, Farah had vehemently expressed his disapproval of al-Shabaab, and was part of the al-Itisaam Council.
"They call themselves the youth of jihad, but their jihad is aimed at Muslims," Farah said in a sermon at al-Rawda Mosque on January 5th. "They have killed off many Muslims, and you all know that hundreds of Muslims die in the explosions. How many have died in Bosaso, Garowe and Galkayo while entering or leaving the mosque? ... This is their version of jihad."
Farah also spoke at the funeral of Sheikh Ahmed Abdirahman, who was killed in December 2011 in Bosaso as he was leaving al-Rawda Mosque after the morning prayer. Farah blamed Abdirahman's death on al-Shabaab.
The International Union of Muslim Scholars on Sunday mourned Farah and condemned his assassination.
"The Union calls on the Somali people to unite against extremists to preserve members of Somali society and preserve the lives of scholars and competent nationals," the organisation said in a statement signed by Chairman Yusuf al-Qaradawi and Secretary General Ali al-Qaradaghi.
Dahir Hassan, a 25-year-old Islamic studies student at East African University in Bosaso, said this was the first time he heard of someone killed while praying. "It used to surprise us to learn that someone was killed after leaving the mosque," he told Sabahi.
Hassan said he watched a Youtube video showing Bile's arrest and called him "a young, misguided youth".
"The people being killed off are our clerics, our source of knowledge," Hassan said, adding that the Puntland administration should assign armed guards to clerics. "[Al-Shabaab] wants to eliminate this nation's strength and its scholars, which will lead our country to a future without intellectual leaders."