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OPINION

Somali extremists behead Christian teen

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NAIROBI, Kenya (BP) -- Militants from an Islamic extremist organization in Somalia linked to al-Qaida beheaded a 17-year-old Christian near Mogadishu in September.
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Guled Jama Muktar was killed by al Shabbab militants in his home near Deynile, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the Somali capital, a journalist there told the Compass Direct news service. The Islamic militants, who have vowed to rid Somalia of Christianity, had been monitoring Muktar's family since they arrived from Kenya in 2008, according to the source, who requested anonymity.

The al Shabbab militants, who are fighting the transitional government for control of the country, knew from their observations of the family that they were Christians, the source said.

"I personally know this family as Christians who used to have secret Bible meetings in their house," he said.

Based on talks with the boy's parents and their neighbors, the source said al Shabaab members arrived at Muktar's home at 6 a.m. on Sept. 25 when his parents, whose names are withheld for security reasons, were already at work at their retail space at a market on the outskirts of Mogadishu.

The extremists found Muktar as he was preparing to go to school, the source said.

"The neighbors heard screaming coming from the house, and then it immediately stopped," the source said. "After awhile, they saw a white car leaving the homestead."

The neighbors informed the parents, who hurriedly returned home from their market stall. They quickly buried their son's body, fearing the militants would kill them as well, returned to their market space and then fled to an unknown destination, the source said.

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"When the incident happened, the parents called to tell me that their son had been killed and that they feared for their lives," the source said. "Since then, I have not heard from them."

In another attack against Somali Christians, a kidnapped Christian convert from Islam was found decapitated Sept. 2 on the outskirts of Hudur City in southwestern Somalia. Juma Nuradin Kamil was forced into a car by three suspected al Shabaab terrorist members on Aug. 21, area sources said.

According to Compass, militants from al Shabaab seek to impose a strict version of Islamic law, called sharia, but the government fighting to retain control of Somalia treats Christians little better than the al Shabaab. While proclaiming himself a moderate, Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheik Ahmed has embraced a version of sharia that mandates the death penalty for those who leave Islam.

Al Shabaab was among several splinter groups that emerged after Ethiopian forces removed the Islamic Courts Union, a group of sharia courts, from power in Somalia in 2006. Al Shabaab has been designated a terrorist organization by several western governments.

In the Lower Shabele region of Somalia earlier this year, two Muslim extremists murdered a member of a secret Christian community, area sources said, telling Compass that two al Shabaab militants shot 21-year-old Hassan Adawe Adan in Shalambod town after entering his house on April 18.

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In Warbhigly village on the outskirts of Mogadishu, a mother of four was killed for her Christian faith on Jan. 7 by al Shabaab extremists, a relative said who requested anonymity. Asha Mberwa, 36, was killed when the Islamic extremists cut her throat in front of villagers who came out of their homes as witnesses, the relative reported.

On Oct. 13 following the kidnapping of two Spanish aid workers from a refugee camp in Dadaab on Somalia's border with Kenyan, and the kidnapping and murder of foreigners at tourist sites, Kenya began air strikes on al Shabaab territory in southern Somalia on Sunday, Oct. 16. Kenya Television reported Oct. 19 that Kenyan armed forces had killed more than 100 al Shabaab militants in Kismayo in southern Somalia.

In 2009, at least 13 Christian leaders were murdered by al Shabaab militants, according to the Washington-based human rights organization International Christian Concern.

Simba Tian is a writer with Compass Direct, a news service based in Santa Ana, Calif., focusing on Christians worldwide who are persecuted for their faith. Used by permission.

Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net

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