By BosNewsLife Africa Service with Joseph DeCaro, BosNewsLife International Correspondent
NAIROBI, KENYA (BosNewsLife)– A leader of an underground Christian church movement in Somalia has been killed by Islamic militants and his four children taken from their mother as part of what locals say is a deadly campaign against Christians, BosNewsLife established Monday, September 13.
Al Shabaab fighters, who have pledged to turn Somalia into a strict Islamic state, broke into the house of Osman Abdullah Fataho in Afgoi on July 21 and shot him dead in front of his wife and four children, Christians said. The assailants reportedly abducted the survivors, later releasing the wife on the condition that she allow her children to become soldiers.
“We know they have taken the children to brain-wash them, to change their way of life from Christian to Muslim and to teach them the Quran,” Christians said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Those kidnapped were identified as Ali Daud Fataho, 5, Fatuma Safia Fataho, 7, Sharif Ahmed Fataho, 10, and 15 year-old Nur Said Fataho.
News of the attack only recently emerged, as Fataho’s murder has added to fear among the faithful in the lawless lands of central Somalia that are controlled by Islamic insurgents intent on punishing any person professing Christianity, Christians said. Other leaders of the Christian underground movement have left their homes for undisclosed locations.
His killing was the latest in a series of deadly attacks against Christians. In 2009, Islamic militants in Somalia killed at least 15 Christians, including women and children, according to local Christians and rights activists.
Al Shabaab, which has links with al Qaeda, has also banned radio stations from playing music and outlawed any “secular bell ringing” since it sounded too much as church bells.
The transitional government in Mogadishu is led by President Sheikh Sharif Sheik Ahmed who critics claim has embraced a version of Sharia, or Muslim law, that mandates the death penalty for anyone converting from Islam.
His administration only controls some areas of the capital, backed by African peacekeepers.