Although the war in Afghanistan is now in its endgame, the West’s struggle to eliminate the threat from Al Qaeda is far from over. A decade after 9/11, the war on terror has entered a new phase and, it would seem, a new territory. In early 2010, Al Qaeda operatives were reportedly “streaming” out of central Asia toward Somalia and the surrounding region.
Somalia, now home to some of the world’s most dangerous terrorists, was already the world’s most failed state. Two decades of anarchy have spawned not just Islamic extremism but piracy, famine, and a seemingly endless clan-based civil war that has killed an estimated 500,000, turned millions into refugees, and caused hundreds of thousands more to flee and settle in Europe and North America.
What is now happening in Somalia directly threatens the security of the world, possibly more than any other region on earth. James Fergusson’s book is the first accessible account of how Somalia became the world’s most dangerous place and what we can—and should—do about it.
Veteran journalist Fergusson's riveting narrative about strife-riddled Somalia is a glimpse of a potential future "should our own systems of governance ever be allowed to collapse." His journey to understand the problem took him beyond Somalia to visit diaspora refugees who fled during the two-decade span marked by the lack of a functional government. Taliban-influence al-Shabaab saw opportunity in a Somalia weakened by civil war, drought, and famine and home to scores of fatherless young males vulnerable to indoctrination. Interviews with members of peace-enforcing AMISOM, local generals, medics, and a young man whose family had been destroyed give face to the suffering in a country where the estimated violent death figure is 500,000 and where few people are educated. Somalia's future lies with refugees who have become educated Western professionals, which Fergusson confirms in interviews with Somalis in Minneapolis and London, although he also details their struggles to adapt. Horrific suffering, brutality, and devastation often caused by outside influences, including the U.S., but also by the "self-destructive obstinacy" of Somalis themselves are all detailed in fluid reportage. Fergusson rounds out this invaluable work by noting the glimmers of hope appearing with the demand for education and disdain for the clan system. Maps & photos.