The following lead (courtesy of Bashir) introduces a most interesting interview with a Somali militia member, published yesterday on the website of TIME Magazine:
Said Ali, 21, is a volunteer fighter for the Shabab militia, the feared enforcers of the Islamic Courts Union. The U.S. brands the organization as an ally of al-Qaeda; in reality, it is also a nationalist anti-warlord movement that contains many Muslim moderates and has no international ambitions. He was 11 when he left his village in southern Somalia and traveled to Mogadishu to look for an education. But all public education had collapsed with the last functioning government in 1991, leaving private school the only option. And Said Ali, like most of his generation, was unable to afford the fees. Instead, he found a job as a porter, and then graduated to selling shirts and kikoi wraps by the side of the road. In time, he was given a job inside a clothes store in Bakara Market, where he earned about 10,000 Somali shillings (80 cents) a day. But often he would be forced to hand over his earnings to armed militias blocking the roads on his way home. He came out of hiding in central Mogadishu to meet TIME's Alex Perry. . . .*Read the full interview on TIME's website (click here).
*Photo above, by Abukar Albadri (EPA), shows fighters loyal to the Islamic Courts Union loading up on trucks to head to the front in December 2006.NOTE: Be sure to read Joseph Peter's probing comment on this posting. (CLICK HERE)