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Lawyer: Trump Tweet Shocked, Silenced Ohio State Attacker’s Family

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The lawyer representing the family of Abdul Razak Ali Artan, the man who wounded 11 people at Ohio State University last week, has said U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s Twitter response to the attack shocked the family and kept them silent and mystified.

In the tweet early Wednesday morning, Trump said, “ISIS is taking credit for the terrible stabbing attack at Ohio State University by a Somali refugee who should not have been in our country.”

In an exclusive interview with VOA, the family attorney, Robert Fitrakis, said the family is still in a “tremendous shock.”

“They [the family] are very afraid, and they expected to be attacked when they go to school or in the community. There is a great fear up there. With the statement of the President-elect Trump, to some extent I am not sure they want their faces on camera,” he said.

“Me I do not care, I believe in the American values. I don’t believe in corruption of the blood and guilty by association,” he added. “This family is innocent, shocked and traumatized. They really want an answer.”

Artan’s family, who fled from Somalia’s chronic violence and poverty, lived in Pakistan for two years and came to the United States in 2014 through a refugee program.

Many Muslims have expressed fear and uncertainty following Trump’s election campaign statement promising a complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.

Family wants proof

Abdul Razak Ali Artan rammed his car into a group of students on the Ohio State campus, then got out of the car and began stabbing people before he was shot dead by a police officer.

Minutes before the attack, Artan published a post on Facebook in which he blamed America for killing Muslims abroad and praised al-Qaida cleric Anwar al-Awlaki as a hero.

But attorney Fitrakis said the family could not believe their son had committed such a crime and wanted law enforcement agencies investigating the case to present proof.

“They believed something influenced their son or their brother and they want to get to the bottom of it. They want to make sure that nobody else has to go through the pain, the suffering and the trauma they are going through,” said Fitrakis.

“The mother, Faduma Saeed Abdullahi, is a single mother who was raising seven children including Artan. She was really very obsessed with education and the father of the family is still in Somalia to my understanding,” Fitrakis said.

Federal and state investigators have found no strong evidence to link his attack to any terrorist group, and Fitrakis said the nature of the attack did not represent the son and the brother this family knew.

“Abdul graduated from the Ohio community college last summer with cum laude. He was a polite and hard working person who was spending most of the time either working at Home Depot or studying,” Fitrakis said.

“[The] family told me he was a good man with a brighter future and they want to know to a large extent to see some kind of proof,” Fitrakis said. “What they want to see is the video types.”

Somali community leaders and law enforcement sources say the last terrorism case tied to Columbus was that of Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud, who was arrested in 2015 after returning from Syria. Mohamud, a naturalized U.S. citizen originally from Somalia, was charged with providing material support to terrorists.

But Artan’s recent attack at Ohio State University is the first violent such attack.

Artan visited Washington

Artan’s family told their lawyer that when they were in Pakistan, Artan had few friends and they were isolated since there were not many Somalis.

The only time Artan’s family suspected him of possible violence was when he posted messages on Facebook minutes before the attack in Ohio.

“One of the family members saw his original post and responded him. In 45 minutes law enforcement agencies and police raided their house, telling them that their bother did an attack,” Fitrakis said.

According to sources close to the family, Abdul Razak Ali Artan went to Washington late on November 24 and came back to Ohio the following day.

Fitrakis said this short trip that occurred without the knowledge of the family surprised and shocked them.

“The fact [was] that he never went out of central Ohio or Columbus area since the family came here, and his trip to Washington DC left the family very suspicious,” Fitrakis said. “He used an old car that had 200,000 miles on it to drive to D.C.”

Source: VOA

UK

LONDON: Crowd pickets Wormwood Scrubs demanding justice following death of inmate

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GET WEST LONDON — More than two weeks on from the fatal stabbing of a young man in his Wormwood Scrubs prison cell a large crowd gathered outside the Shepherd’s Bush institution to protest.

Khader Ahmed Sahel, 25, was of Somali origin and his sudden death on January 31 has shocked and angered a tight knit community who believe it could have been prevented.

On Thursday (February 15) Khader’s mother, Amima Duleah, and his older brother, Said Yusuf, both from Northolt, Ealing, were among those to picket the prison’s gates in Du Cane Road, demanding justice.

Following his death Khader’s 20-year-old wife Salma has been left to bring up their two-year-old son, Ahmed, alone.

Speaking to getwestlondon Mr Yusuf, 29, described the last time he visited his brother in prison, he said: “His state was a bit bad, you could see the violence from his body – he’d been in fights inside

“He was mentioning that there was no safety inside and that there was neglect from the guards.

“He was scared inside the prison – for his life.”

He added: “We want justice for him and we would like for this prison to either be closed or to be fixed so this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

The protest was organised by Somali campaigning group Gaashaan, which has set up a petition asking the Ministry of Justice to combat the issue of violence in prisons and reassess the safety of inmates in institutions across the country.

Speaking to getwestlondon, Gaashaan leader Sahel Ali said: “We are coming together to protest against the brutal stabbing of an inmate of Somali ethnic background, Khader Sahel.

“Khader was 25 years old, he was at the beginning of his life, he left behind a family and a child.”
Salma Hassan, has been widowed aged 20 after her husband was fatally stabbed in Wormwood Scrubs prison on January 31 (Image: Salma Hassan)

He added: “There is nothing wrong with locking up people who commit crimes or break the law of the land but what we are unhappy, angry about and against is that people’s safety inside jails has been compromised.

“And this happened a month after a report was published highlighting a surge in prison violence – that is what people are angry about today.”

A prison inspection in December revealed a high surge in violence on top of chronic staff shortages and lack of food at Wormwood Scrubs.

Following the report Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke said it painted “an extremely concerning picture.”

Wormwood Scrubs inmates Ahmed Khayre, 21, Enton Marku, 20, and Khalif Dibbassey, 21, all appeared at the Old Bailey charged with Mr Saleh’s murder on Tuesday (February 6).

The Recorder of London, Nicholas Hilliard QC, remanded all three defendants in custody.

Dutch national Mr Khayre, of HMP Belmarsh, British national Mr Marku, of HMP Wandsworth, and French national Mr Dibbassey, of HMP High Down, will return to court for a plea and trial preparation hearing on April 24.

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Canada’s institutions repeatedly failed former child refugee Abdoul Abdi

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The ethical case to fight the deportation of former child refugee Abdoul Abdi from Canada is a straightforward one with no visible shades of grey.

Yet it has ballooned into a needless battle exposing federal and provincial indifference to non-citizen children.

On Feb. 15, a Federal Court will hear an emergency request to temporarily stop Abdi’s deportation.

The broad strokes of Abdi’s story are these.

Instability was the only constant in the life of this man, born 24 years ago in Saudi Arabia to a Saudi father and Somali mother. He lived for four years at a refugee camp in Djibouti and then at age 6 landed in Canada along with his sister and aunts.

At age 8, child protective services scooped him and his sister out of their aunt’s home for reasons unknown. This is not surprising — research in Ontario last year showed Aboriginal and Black children are far more likely to be investigated and taken into care than white children.

The family now speculates this could be because their aunt, who didn’t speak much English, took too long to register them for school.

Abdi bounced around among not one or two or a dozen homes but 31 of them, some, he says, abusive situations. A study last year by Ontario’s Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth linked foster care experiences to later outcomes of homelessness and criminality, among others.
Abdi, too, got sucked into illegal activities.

When he messed up, he faced the consequences. About four years in prison for multiple offences, including aggravated assault.

He is also paying the price for errors by the system.

On Jan. 4, no alarm bells were sounded in the labyrinthine corridors of power in Canada, when Canada Border Services Agency officers arrested Abdi as he left prison after serving his sentence and was at the gates of a halfway house.

They were going to deport him, they said. Send him packing because it turned out the kid who grew up in Canada was not a Canadian citizen. His crown parents — the Department of Community Services — had never applied for a citizenship for him.

Where was he being banished? Not to Saudi, his birthplace, which might have been the logical though still unjustifiable choice, but to Somalia, the place of his mother’s ethnic origins, a place so dangerous that Canadian officials and planes don’t go there. A place whose language Abdi does not speak, and where he knows no one.

Repeatedly abandoned as a child, Abdi is now an officially unwanted adult.

It has taken a village, for us to hear of Abdi.

More accurately, it has taken a set of extraordinarily large-hearted individuals, many of whom have never met Abdi, but who are tied together by a passionate rejection of injustice to bring his story to the forefront of our nation’s conscience.

Last month, Halifax poet laureate and activist El Jones chronicled in the Halifax Examiner just one week of the collective action taken for Abdi.

In it she wove the stories of disparate lives criss-crossing through past injustices. How Jones came across Abdi via Coralee Smith, the mother of Ashley Smith who died in 2007, asphyxiated from a ligature tied around her neck as correctional officers watched.

How Abdi’s sister Fatouma courageously challenged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a town hall in Nova Scotia, thereby ensuring national attention on this case.

How Jones and journalist/activist Desmond Cole questioned Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Ahmed Hussen at a National Black Summit in that city, and endured criticisms of being disruptive and rude and not supporting a fellow Black minister.

“As though,” Jones writes, “having a Black man sign the deportation papers is progress.”

She writes of Abdi’s “fantastic” lawyer Ben Perryman who finds himself suddenly under the glare of media spotlight.

And of the near-misses, the small successes, the support and amplification from Black Lives Matter and academics/activists Rinaldo Walcott and Idil Abdillahi, and student activist Masuma Khan among others.

Here is an important thing:

“All of us have jobs, and school, and families,” she writes. “This isn’t even the only thing we’re advocating on this week, because there’s always more suffering, more rights being denied, more people in need.”

Yet Jones writes of hope, and of love that carries them forward.

Their undertaking serves to underline the inhumanity of the decisions that mark this case.

Federal minister of public safety Ralph Goodale refused to pause a deportation hearing while Abdi’s lawyers mount a constitutional challenge to his deportation. At its hearing on March 7, the Immigration and Refugee Board will not review the complexities of the case to decide if Abdi can enter or remain in the country, his lawyer told the CBC. His criminal record will inevitably lead to a deportation order, he said.

A deportation order would automatically strip Abdi’s permanent resident status.

No PR status means he can’t keep his job, means he risks going back to prison; being employed is a condition for his release.

And round and round it goes.

This is the face of institutions ganging up against vulnerable individuals. Earlier this week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told an audience in Quebec it’s time to recognize anti-Black racism exists in Canada. “Canada can and must do better,” he said.

What are we waiting for?

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Diaspora

Why a group of Seattle mothers and children came together to write their own alphabet book

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SEATTLE TIMES — Over meals of traditional food and tea, five Somali mothers and their children gathered in their NewHolly neighbourhood this past year to create a children’s book.

The Seattle families brought in family possessions, rooted in Somali culture, to be photographed to appear alongside the appropriate letter of the alphabet. The plan now is to distribute 1,000 copies of “Baro Af-Soomaali” locally, before marketing the book more broadly.

Necessity was the mother of invention for these families as they decided to do something about the fact that even in Seattle — where the Somali community is among the largest in the nation — there aren’t enough books in Somali.

The Seattle Public Library has about 200 books in Somali, according to the library system, and under half are children’s books. There are very few board books.

Packed into the NewHolly Gathering Hall in Southeast Seattle, a crowd of hundreds celebrated the launch Friday of the new children’s alphabet board book, “Baro Af-Soomaali,” for the Seattle Public Library system and beyond. The title translates to “learning Somali.”

The overarching goal of the project: to provide a tool for Somali parents who want to share their culture while teaching their children English.

During their workshops, each family was assigned letters and began creating artwork for the book. They brought in family possessions, rooted in Somali culture, to be photographed to appear alongside the appropriate letter of the alphabet. Next to “D,” for instance, is the word “Dambiil” and a picture of a basket.

Project leaders plan to distribute 1,000 copies of “Baro Af-Soomaali” locally, before marketing it to libraries, schools and retailers across the country and globe, according to the library system and Seattle Housing Authority. The book will also be available as a free PDF download on the system’s website.

The book was funded in part by The Seattle Public Library Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Race to the Top Deep Dive 3 with Puget Sound Educational Service District and Community Center for Education Results.

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