World Bulletin/News Desk
The Somali government has called on telecommunication firms in the war-ravaged country to resist a threat by al-Shabaab to stop providing mobile phone internet 3G and renege on plans to launch high-speed internet services in the country.
"Al-Shabaab has lost control of the major cities in Somalia and are now trying to terrorize people and stop them from using Internet," Somali Minister of Internal Security Abdikarim Hussein Guled said in a statement mailed to Anadolu Agency.
"Our message to them is that there can be no safe place in our country from which to launch terrorist and criminal activities."
On Wednesday the group, through its radio station Al-Andalus, gave telecommunication firms fifteen days to shut down mobile phone internet 3G and backtrack on plans to offer high-speed fiber optic services, which are supposed to be launched soon.
"Those who do not comply would be seen as working with the enemy and dealt with according to Islamic law," it threatened.
Al-Shabaab, which controls much of the rural southern and central areas of Somalia, did not give further details about the motive behind wanting to suspend such services.
In an effort to reassure the sector, the Somali government pledged to ensure that the telecommunication firms are free to provide internet services to Somali citizens.
"While the government provides all necessary assistance to protect the public we also caution them not to cooperate and work with terrorist groups or bow to their threats," said the minister.
"Al-Shabaab's strategy is to silence our people to commit extortion against communication companies so they can gain desperately needed financial resources," he suggested.
Ironically, since losing ground to the African Union and government troops in the past two years, al-Shabaab has made prolific use of the cyberspace to propagate its agenda.
Last year, its twitter account was banned after tweeting support for the Westgate Mall siege in Nairobi that saw the killing of at least 69 people.
Out of a population of approximately 9 million people, statistics show that there are more than 126,000 internet users in Somalia.
The two main telecommunication firms in the country, Hortel Inc and Nationlink, are yet to issue a statement on the threat.
In the past al-Shabaab has followed its threats with gun and bomb attacks on those who fail to comply.
The group has banned mobile phone ringtones, listening to music, watching football and money transfer services in areas under its control.Last Mod: 11 Ocak 2014, 22:13