Radical Somali Islamist group al-Shabab chopped off the right hands of
two thieves Wednesday in Mogadishu as part of its implementation of
Sharia law in areas under its control. The act is an indication of the power the group has
cemented over areas of the capital city.
The punishment was
brazenly performed as a public demonstration. A young man was also
given 100 lashes for allegedly raping a young lady.
for the Islamic court that handed down the sentences, Abu Hamza, says
the two men were ordered to have their hands cut off in accordance with
the teachings of the Koran.
The two were found guilty of breaking into homes and stealing items.
form of strict interpretation of the Koran is viewed by many Somalis as
an alien influence on their culture, which traditionally follows a more
moderate form of Islam. Al-Shabab is believed to have direct links
with the international terrorist group al-Qaida.
al-Shabab ordered that women living in the Somali Banadir region, which
includes Mogadishu, must cover themselves completely in the full
Islamic dresses known as abayas, a practice that is not customary for
most Somali women.
The Islamist militant group controls much of
southern Somalia as well as major portions of the capital Mogadishu,
where it is trying to overthrow the Western-backed transitional federal
An African Union peacekeeping force of roughly
5,000 Ugandan and Burundian troops are also deployed in Mogadishu to
help protect certain sites, such as the presidential palace, the
airstrip, and the seaport.
After a six-month rule in 2006 of the
Islamic Courts Union, which partly included al-Shabab, a U.S.-backed
Ethiopian invasion forced the Islamist militants to regroup in its base
of southern Somalia. Al-Shabab has since strengthened its guerilla
tactics and become increasingly radicalized.
federal government is headed by President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, who was
once a leader of the Islamist insurgents. He was elected in January as
president in a deal backed by the international community, but rejected
by many of the Islamist opposition forces.
Renewed clashes this week in Mogadishu have killed more than 20 people since Monday.