Sunday, July 06, 2008

High-ranking Somali officials living on UK dole?


Why is the family of Somalia's secret service chief living in a subsidised house in Leicester? Because 18 months ago, General Darwiish was a forklift-truck driver at Tesco's Daventry depot - and every little bit helps.

British taxpayers’ money is helping to bankroll one side in this vicious conflict, and several Somali leaders who have been linked to allegations of war crimes against countless civilians are living double lives in Britain.

Extraordinarily, some members of the Somali government have even been given British citizenship, state benefits and a subsidised home in this country.

Until late 2006, Mohamed Warsame Nur ‘Darwiish’ was packing peas and driving forklift trucks for Tesco at its depot near Junction 18 of the M1 near Daventry. Now he is General Darwiish, chief of the feared National Security Agency (NSA), the principal counterterrorism arm of Somalia’s government – the Somali equivalent of the CIA. The NSA is accused of interning hundreds of people on trumped-up charges in the notorious Barista Hisbiga dungeons, where it’s said they are tortured and ordered to obtain ransoms, often from overseas relatives, sometimes from Britain.

Meanwhile, Darwiish’s family continue to live in safety in a housing association property in Leicester, where rents for similar, subsidised homes from the same organisation are just £80 per week.

Deputy police chief Ahmed Hashi Tajir is from Sparkhill in Birmingham. A Dutch passport holder, he came to Britain from the Netherlands because it offered better job opportunities – and the opportunity to benefit from child tax credit. He is right to be thankful to his British sponsors. Even his police force is backed by the UK – Britain has helped pay, via a UN programme, the salaries of Somali policemen.

Former Somali interior minister Mohamed Guled Ga’amadheere is a British citizen, with a house and family in Leytonstone, east London.

The former military chief of staff, the president’s spokesman and others are thought to have families and homes in the UK. One government minister revealed to me that at least half of the cabinet are British.

All these men regularly commute between Somalia and their homes in Leicester, Birmingham and east London, where their families are left to survive as best they can while the men are away fighting for their leader, President Abdullahi Yusuf. He too has strong links with Britain. In 1996, his life was saved by a liver transplant at London’s Cromwell Hospital. The organ donor was a young British motorcycle-accident victim. Yusuf comes back for regular check-ups, staying with relatives in Kilburn, north-west London.

There's much more at the link.