In consideration of the horrifying attack that was committed by a Somali refugee on Ohio State University’s campus today, we here at DML decided to do some research on what crime in Somalia is like.
We went to the website of the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), created by the State Department, and found a shocking report that shows how bad the crime in this third world country is. The details are so horrific they will make you wonder why we still allow refugees from Somalia to enter the United States at all.
Americans are asking why today’s attack may have happened, and after seeing the warning that reads: “no area in Somalia should be considered immune from violence, and the potential exists throughout the country for hostile acts, either targeted or random, against U.S. and other Western nationals at any time” it makes sense why refugees coming to the United States are willing to hurt Americans in ways similar to what happened at Ohio State.
The Somalia 2016 Crime & Safety Report can be seen below:
Overall Crime and Safety Situation
The U.S. government recommends U.S. citizens avoid travel to Somalia.
Post Crime Rating: Critical
The general crime rate is well above the U.S. national average. Pervasive and violent crime is an extension of the general state of insecurity in Somalia. Serious, brutal, and often fatal crimes are very common. Kidnapping and robbery are a particular problem in Mogadishu, other areas of the south, and in Galmuduug and Puntland.
Pirates and other criminals have specifically targeted and kidnapped foreigners working in Somalia.
No area in Somalia should be considered immune from violence, and the potential exists throughout the country for hostile acts, either targeted or random, against U.S. and other Western nationals at any time. A strong familiarity with Somalia and/or extensive prior travel to the region does not reduce travel risk.
Other Areas of Concern
While Somaliland has experienced a level of stability not present in other parts of Somalia, the Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens against all travel to Somalia, including the self-proclaimed Independent Republic of Somaliland – see the Travel Warning. Travelers insisting on visiting Somaliland despite the Warning should check conditions in Somaliland before embarking on a journey.
Terrorist attacks have occurred against international relief workers, including Westerners, throughout Somalia, including Puntland and Somaliland. In every year since 2008, there have been violent kidnappings and assassinations, including suicide bombings, of local and foreign staff working for international organizations. Additionally, there have been threats against Westerners in Somalia, including Somaliland. On April 7, 2014, two foreign UN employees were shot dead on arrival at an airport in Galcayo.
Despite improved security in Mogadishu, insurgents conducted an increasing number of high profile attacks in 2013 and 2014, many of which targeted government officials and foreigners. These attacks consisted of complex assaults, improvised explosive device (IED) detonations, and suicide bombings. Insurgents targeted various Somali government facilities in Mogadishu, including the airport and compounds that house a majority of international aid workers and diplomats.
Post Terrorism Rating: Critical
Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns
The security situation remains unstable and dangerous. Terrorist operatives and armed groups in the region continue to attack Somali authorities, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and other non-military targets. Kidnapping, bombings, murder, illegal roadblocks, banditry, use of indirect fire, and other violent incidents/threats to U.S. citizens and other foreign nationals can occur in any region of Somalia.
While some parts of Somalia are now under government control with the military support of AMISOM forces, al-Shabaab, an al-Qai’da affiliate, that has demonstrated the capability to carry out attacks in government-controlled territory with particular emphasis on targeting government facilities, foreign delegations’ facilities/movements, and commercial establishments frequented by government officials, foreign nationals, and the Somali Diaspora. In February 2012, al-Shabaab announced it merged with al-Qai’da.
Al-Shabaab-planned assassinations, suicide bombings, and indiscriminate armed attacks in civilian populated areas are frequent.
On December 25, 2014, al-Shabaab conducted an attack within the Mogadishu International Airport secure perimeter, resulting in the deaths of at least eight individuals, including one U.S. citizen. Al-Shabaab remains intent on conducting attacks at popular restaurants, hotels, and convoys.
In 2015, there were at least four prominent hotel attacks located in the heart of the Somali capital. One U.S. citizen was killed in those attacks.
In January 2015, a suicide car bomber killed at least six people in a strike apparently aimed at a Turkish government convey the day before that country’s president was to arrive in Somalia.
Separately, in late April 2015, a car bomb detonated adjacent to a favorite eatery frequented by government ministries and presidential palace officials.
In late-June 2015, a car bomb targeted UAE military instructors near a military hospital, killing at least three Somali soldiers.
Kidnappings and larger assaults (assassinations, grenade attacks) remain daily threats. Beyond the high profile attacks noted above, al-Shabaab has also claimed responsibility for other regional terrorist attacks.
There is a particular threat to foreigners in places where large crowds gather and Westerners frequent, including airports, government buildings, and shopping areas. Locally-established courts operating under a combination of Somali customary and Islamic Shari’a law may be hostile toward foreigners.
Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence
Post Political Violence Rating: Critical
Violent demonstrations and acts of civil disobedience are common.
Inter-clan and inter-factional fighting can flare up with little/no warning.
Economic Espionage/Intellectual Property Thefts
Do not buy counterfeit and pirated goods even if they are widely available. Not only are counterfeit goods illegal in the U.S., their purchase does not always comply with local law.
In January 2012, a U.S. citizen was kidnapped while on work-related travel in Somalia, and in October 2011, a similar incident occurred with a U.S. citizen aid worker living in Somalia. In these cases, as well as in recent kidnappings of other Westerners, the victims took precautionary measures by hiring local security personnel, but those hired to protect them may have played a role in the abductions.
Law enforcement are understaffed, ill-equiped, and fail to receive training commensurate with U.S. standards. They also struggle to provide consistent basic law enforcement services. Enforcement of criminal laws is haphazard/nonexistent.
Persons violating Somalia’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs are severe, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment
In some places, you may be taken in for questioning if you do not have your passport, if you take pictures of restricted locations, or if you drive under the influence. For more information, please review OSAC’s Report “Picture This: Dos and Don’ts for Photography.” The consistency of enforcement and subsequent criminal penalties vary dramatically.
Broadly, the Somalia National Police (SNP) service is responsible for crimes that fall under the jurisdiction of Federal Government of Somalia, including any activities in violation of the draft Constitution that may endanger the Constitutional order, public order, hooliganism, terrorism, trafficking in persons and transferring of drugs.
Medical facilities are extremely limited. Travelers should carry personal supplies of medications with them, as many health clinics lack a doctor/nurse and carry sub-standard supplies. In addition, many pharmacies stock ineffective counterfeit medications. For more information, please refer to OSAC’s Report, “Traveling with Medications.” Credit cards are typically not accepted for medical care in Somalia.
U.S. citizens considering travel to Somalia, including Somaliland and Puntland, are advised to obtain kidnap and recovery insurance and medical evacuation insurance prior to travel.
According to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, in 2013, 194 cases of polio were reported in Somalia. These are the first wild poliovirus cases reported in Somalia since 2007. CDC issued a Level 2 Alert regarding polio in the horn of Africa, recommending travelers practice enhanced precautions ensuring they are fully vaccinated against polio. Additionally, adults who have received a full polio series in childhood should receive a one-time booster.The booster can be either IPV (available in the US) or OPV and should be recorded on the WHO international certificate of vaccination. Individuals living in countries or areas reporting indigenous wild poliovirus should have completed a full course of vaccination against polio, preferably with OPV, before traveling abroad. Such travelers should receive an additional dose of OPV 1-12 months before each international journey; this should be recorded on the WHO international certificate of vaccination.
Road Safety and Road Conditions
Traffic lights are a rarity, and roads are not well-maintained, causing poor conditions and making driving hazardous. Traffic enforcement is minimal. In many areas, there is also a risk to drivers of IEDs or landmines.
Public Transportation Conditions
There are few if any formal travel services or organizations that provide travel throughout the country. Illegal roadblocks, banditry, and other violent incidents/threats to U.S. citizens and other foreign nationals can occur in any region of Somalia.
The U.S. continues to be concerned about the risks to U.S. civil aviation operating in the territory and airspace of Somalia due to the hazards associated with terrorist and militant activity. Additionally, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has prohibited U.S. civil aviation from flying below flight level 260 in the territory and airspace of Somalia.
On February 2, 2016, an airplane departing from the Mogadishu International Airport (MIA) was targeted by an al-Shabaab operative using an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). The mid-air detonation severely damaged the airplane and resulted in one fatality and two other injuries. Open source media depicted the alleged perpetrators passing the IED to a passenger within the MIA commercial terminal undetected by airport security services.
Other Travel Conditions
U.S. citizens are urged to avoid sailing near the coast of Somalia, as attacks have occurred as far as 1,000 nautical miles off the coast in international waters. Merchant vessels, fishing boats, and recreational craft all risk seizure and having their crews held for ransom in the waters off the Horn of Africa, including in international waters. Somali pirates captured and killed four U.S. citizens aboard their boat on February 22, 2011.
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