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Ramadan, Jihad and Laylat al-Qadr in Somalia

Somalia On July 27, al Shabaab militants attacked a Turkish residence outside Mogadishu, killing two and wounding several others. In a series of Twitter messages sent minutes before the attack, they promised to intensify their self-proclaimed “Ramadan Offensive.” The group claims to have carried out over 100 attacks during the first half of Ramadan. “Ramadan is a month of Jihad and sacrifice. It’s time for observing the most righteous deeds & offering gratitude to Allah for His blessings,” one Twitter message declared. “And what better way to observe Ramadan and offer gratitude to Allah than striking the necks of the invaders and destroying their might!” Somali and international leaders condemned the suicide attack on a Turkish embassy staff compound in the Hodan district of Mogadishu, an attack that killed a Turkish guard and a Somali bystander, and wounded many. Somali rebel group al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack in which a car laden with explosives crashed into the gates of the Turkish residence. Three al Shabaab militants, including the car bomber, were also killed. The group says that its fighters have carried out over 100 attacks in the first half of Ramadan, mostly in and around the capital Mogadishu. These attacks allegedly included 57 explosion and grenade attacks, 41 direct confrontations and ambushes, nine targeted assassinations, a suicide attack against an African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and an attack on a convoy in Mogadishu on July 12, in which they claim to have wounded American intelligence officials. Majid Ahmed, reporter for the United States Africa Command Sabahi website, expressed doubts about the high number of attacks, speculating that the group wants to create a false impression of unity within al Shabaab. Somalia’s federal government was installed in 2012 with the support of the international community after decades of anarchy. However, the government of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has faced an uphill battle in wrestling control from al Shabaab, which still holds power over many areas in the South. The President has reiterated the call for al Shabaab fighters to cease fighting and accept the government’s offer of amnesty. Somali religious figures, community leaders and citizens have condemned al Shabaab’s campaign of violence against fellow Muslims during Ramadan. As Ramadan is coming to an end, Muslims in Somalia and other parts of the Muslim World prepare for Laylat al-Qadr. Laylat al-Qadr, the Night of Power, commemorates the moment when the Quran was revealed to the prophet Mohammad. On that night, Muslims pray to God for mercy, forgiveness, and salvation, believing past sins will be forgiven. Laylat al-Qadr is expected to fall during the last ten days of Ramadan; somewhere between July 29 and August 7. Although the exact date cannot be determined in advance due to the nature of the Islamic lunar calendar, it is likely to be recognized on Saturday, Aug 3. Estimates are based on expected visibility of the waxing crescent moon following a new moon and may vary according to location. Please join us in prayer for those who are truly seeking forgiveness of sins- that they will come to realize that the only sure forgiveness is through a relationship with Christ Jesus. Please also pray for the people of Somalia, that the Lord would bring peace to this land that has experienced so much violence, especially during the month of Ramadan. Finally, pray for the al Shabaab militants- that the Lord would work in their hearts and that they would be able to find that the true way to the Father is not through ‘striking the necks of the invaders,’ but that it is through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Pray Through Ramadan

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