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[] somalisches Telefonnetz geschlossen wg. Al-Quaeda-Vorwürfen,
Vom Ergebnis her scheint das das somalische Äquivalent eines Electronic
Pearl Harbor zu sein, wenn man dem Artikel glauben kann. IRIN ist
normalerweise eine gute Quelle. RB

Telecommunications shut down

NAIROBI, 15 November (IRIN) - The Barakaat Telecommunications Company,
the largest in Somalia, has closed down its international telephone
services throughout Somalia, after its British and American business
partners terminated their relationship with the Al-Barakaat group, a
senior company official told IRIN. The move has greatly limited
telephone contact between the country and the outside world.

"We were forced to shut down on Tuesday night after our international
gateway was cut off by Concert Communications", a company jointly owned
by British Telecom and AT&T, Abdullah Kahiye, Barakaat
Telecommunications general manager said on Thursday.

A Concert Communications spokesman, Naill Hickey, told IRIN, also on
Thursday that the reason for the closure of the link was the Al-Barakaat
group's connection with Osama bin Laden, the chief suspect behind the 11
September attacks in the US, so "we have terminated our business
relations with them". He declined to elaborate further.

The Al-Barakaat group is one of the 62 organisations and individuals
which the US authorities have accused of having links with terrorism,
and whose assets were seized worldwide on 7 November. The group has
consistently denied the charge, and accused the US government of
responding to "rumours and lies". Kahiye described the move as "yet
another attempt to destroy our business". He said that Concert
communications had closed its gateway "without even notifying us".

Barakaat Communications has over 25,000 subscribers in Mogadishu alone.
Kahiye said the company's partners in the self-declared autonomous
region of Puntland, northeastern Somalia - Barakaat-Red Sea, and
Barakaat-GlobalTel in the self-declared republic of Somaliland,
northwestern Somalia, were the largest in their respective areas, with
over 5,000 subscribers in Puntland and 10,000 in Somaliland.

The shutdown of Barakaat Telecommunications has affected every aspect of
life in Somalia, Awil Abdi Hashi, a Mogadishu businessman, told IRIN.
"We have been unable to contact our business partners for two days," he
said. Because of the unpredictable security situation, "they may think
something has happened to us". There were other telephone companies, but
most people were using Barakaat, and "these other companies cannot take
the load as of now", he added. 

"It seems to me that the Americans want us to return to 1991," said
Hashi, referring to the start of the civil war when telecommunications
services ceased to operate in Somalia. 

Somali experts told IRIN that one positive effect of the civil war had
been the introduction of modern telecommunications technology in the
country. "Somalia today has one of the best international telephone
services in the region and, at US $1 per minute, it is among the
cheapest anywhere in world," one of them, said. 

Humanitarian agencies are worried about the effects the closure of the
money transfer and telecommunications systems will have on the Somali
people. "This action threatens to plunge the country into a greater
isolation than it was in previously," a humanitarian source told IRIN. 

The timing of these actions did not augur well for "emerging authorities
Somalia", he added. 

Kahiye said the effects of the action were illustrated by one elderly
woman in a small town in Somalia, who lost access to $100 sent to her by
her daughter living in the US just a few days ago, and now, with the
closure of telephone services had also the lost the remaining means of
contact with her daughter.

"Where is justice in this?" he asked. Kahiye said that all along his
company had been asking "for simple justice. I say again to the
Americans, please come and investigate. Don't depend on lies and rumours
put about by envious competitors or others with a hidden agenda. We have
nothing to hide."

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