nettime's roving reporter on Sat, 24 Nov 2001 23:16:57 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> US shuts down Somalia internet

Friday, 23 November, 2001, 13:02 GMT

US shuts down Somalia internet

The US believes the two companies also support Bin Laden

Somalia's only internet company and a key telecoms business have been
forced to close because the United States suspects them of terrorist
links. The two firms, Somalia Internet Company and al-Barakaat, both
appear on a US list of organisations accused of funnelling money to the
al-Qaeda network.

Both companies have stated they are not linked to terrorists.

Along with denying all internet access to Somalis, the closures have
severely restricted international telephone lines and shut down vitally
needed money transfer facilities. Correspondents say the closure of the
companies will have a devastating effect on the country, which desperately
needs the services they provide.


Hassan Barise in Mogadishu told the BBC's Network Africa programme the
said more than 80% of Somalis depend on money they receive from relatives
outside the country.  He said all internet cafes have now shut down and
international phone lines run by two other companies are failing to cope
with the extra pressure of calls. He also pointed out that the United
Nations, local and international aid agencies, as well as the government
itself all relied heavily on internet access, now denied.

"I would say it is very depressing and if I could find any stronger word
than that I would say it," he said. He added the impact would be felt even
more strongly because the cuts have come during the holy month of Ramadan.


On 7 November, the Bush administration released the list of 62
organisations and individuals accused of financial links with Osama Bin

Reports say the Somali Internet Company was forced to close when it
realised that its international gateway had been cut off.

Al-Barakaat, Somalia's largest company with interests in
telecommunications, banking and postal services, closed its financial
businesses after its assets were frozen.

Its international telephone service was then shut down when its
international gateway - run jointly by AT&T and British Telecom - was also
cut off.  The company, which has 600 shareholders, is the largest employer
in Somalia.

Hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Somalis depend on it to transfer
money throughout the world.  Somalis living abroad use it to send money to
their relatives back home as there are no other banking systems in Somalia
since the downfall of the Siad Barre regime in 1991.

Somalia's prime minister has issued a decree appointing a special
committee to investigate al-Barakaat, as well as all other remittance

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