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Friday, 23 November, 2001, 13:02 GMT
US shuts down Somalia internet
Anti-US demonstration in Mogadishu
The US believes the two companies also support Bin Laden
Somalia's only internet company and a key telecoms business have been forced to close because the United States suspects them of terrorist links.

I would say it is very depressing and if I could find any stronger word than that I would say it

BBC correspondent Hassan Barise
The two firms, Somalia Internet Company and al-Barakaat, both appear on a US list of organisations accused of funnelling money to the al-Qaeda network and featured in a UN Security Council resolution.

Both companies have stated they are not linked to terrorists.

Along with denying all internet access to Somalis, the closures have severely restricted international telephone lines and shut down vitally needed money transfer facilities.

Correspondents say the closure of the companies will have a devastating effect on the country, which desperately needs the services they provide.


Hassan Barise in Mogadishu told the BBC's Network Africa programme more than 80% of Somalis depended on money they receive from relatives outside the country.

al-Barakaat hoarding
Thousands of Somali's depend on al-Barakaat's services
He said all internet cafes had now shut down and international phone lines run by two other companies were failing to cope with the extra pressure of calls.

He also pointed out that the United Nations, local and international aid agencies, as well as the government itself all relied heavily on internet access, now denied.

"I would say it is very depressing and if I could find any stronger word than that I would say it," he said.

He added the impact would be felt even more strongly because the cuts have come during the holy month of Ramadan.


On 7 November, the Bush administration released the list of 62 organisations and individuals accused of financial links with Osama Bin Laden.

Reports say the Somali Internet Company was forced to close when it realised that its international gateway had been cut off.

Telecoms workers
The international phone service is suffering
Al-Barakaat, Somalia's largest company with interests in telecommunications, banking and postal services, closed its financial businesses after its assets were frozen.

Its international telephone service was then shut down when its international gateway - run jointly by AT&T and British Telecom - was also cut off.

The company, which has 600 shareholders, is the largest employer in Somalia.

Hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Somalis depend on it to transfer money throughout the world.

Somalis living abroad use it to send money to their relatives back home as there are no other banking systems in Somalia since the downfall of the Siad Barre regime in 1991.

Somalia's prime minister has issued a decree appointing a special committee to investigate al-Barakaat, as well as all other remittance companies.

The BBC's Hassan Barise
"The people are desperately in need of those services"
See also:

08 Nov 01 | Africa
Somali company 'not terrorist'
15 Nov 01 | Africa
Somalia: The land of opportunity
26 Sep 01 | Africa
US targets Somali group
24 Sep 01 | Africa
UN pulls out of Somalia
21 Sep 01 | Africa
Somalia rejects Bin Laden link
17 Oct 01 | Africa
Starvation threat in Somalia
05 Sep 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Somalia
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