Tom Rhodes, Africa co-ordinator for the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, told CTV.ca on Monday that his sources say the [Somali] militants are looking for a safe house to hold [kidnapped journalists] Amanda Lindhout (pictured) and Nigel Brennan. Once they have found such a place, it is believed they will make a formal ransom demand, he said.
This jibes somewhat with what the National Union of Somali Journalists is saying, that
information received this morning states that Amanda, Nigel, [Somali photog] Abdifatah and their driver Mahad are being [held] in Mogadishu, particularly north-eastern neighborhood of Suqa Holaha village by militias. It is not clear whether they are being held for political purposes, bargaining chips or financial purposes. But journalists who spoke in condition of anonymity for their security said the abduction seems pre-planned attack.
That the attack was pre-planned is clear, based on the difficulty of pulling off a swift abduction on a road patrolled by the Ethiopian army. What’s more disturbing is the possibility that the kidnapping was an inside job by one or both of the journos’ bodyguards/drivers. It’s telling that the Union’s statement makes no mention of the fifth man who apparently was part of the abducted group. Was this fifth man the traitor?
Reason being that, up to now, Mogadishu’s class of professional gunmen could be counted on to protect you for the right price. Pay them enough for their daily allowance of narcotic khat, and they were perfectly happy, loyal and dependable. Mine even stood up to an angry, armed mob at a movie theater in downtown Moga. But if guards start turning on their clients, the whole system breaks down, and journalists won’t be able to move around Somalia with the same degree of safety.
Now I want to know what Moqtar Roboow, the alleged spokesman for the Al Shabab insurgent group in Somalia, would say about the abduction. There’s been no word yet from the elusive insurgent flack, but his silence speaks volumes. If Al Shabab had nothing to do with the abduction, Roboow should say so.