Somalia (MNN) — A human rights group has learned that members of al-Shabaab (a Somali Islamic extremist group) have killed yet another leader of an underground church in the Somalia capital of Mogadishu.
Washington-based International Christian Concern (ICC) reports that on Oct. 10, Pastor Ali Hussein Weheliye was returning home from a worship service when two masked members of al-Shabaab ambushed and shot him. He was later taken to Darful Shifa Hospital.
ICC's Regional Manager for Africa and South Asia Jonathan Racho says Pastor Ali died of his injuries. "This is very sad news because this year alone, Ali is the 15th Christian to be killed by Islamic extremists in Somalia."
According to ICC, Ali converted from Islam to Christianity in 1999 while working in Somalia's capital as a linguist. In 2002, he started pastoring an underground house church. He is survived by his wife and a daughter who are now in hiding, fearing for their lives.
ICC reports that al-Shabaab has previously declared Somalia as an Islamic state, vowing to eradicate Christians. Just this year, the group has killed a dozen Somali Christians. Several Christians have also left the country due to the intense persecution. Racho says, "Christians in that country are underground. They're living double lives. Some of them are even going to the mosques just to appear to the Islamists that they are just Muslims."
Racho adds, "The underground church in Somalia is enduring untold suffering; al-Shabaab and other Islamic extremist groups are hunting down and killing Christians. By killing Christians, the Islamic extremists have repeatedly demonstrated utter disregard for human life and freedom of religion."
Somalia has been without an effective government since 1991. Racho says al-Shabaab is growing and is becoming increasingly more dangerous. "They have also a strong link with al Qaeda, so it has become the new Taliban and the new Afghanistan." Somalia is quickly becoming a haven for extremists.
While persecution is a daily fear, Racho say it's not stopping outreach. "There are many who are risking their lives day and night to share their faith and to help Somalis to come to Christ. And there are many Muslims who are embracing Christianity in that country despite the violence and the killing that they face when they convert to Christianity."
ICC is asking you to pray that the Lord would comfort and strengthen Ali's wife and daughter. In addition, ICC requests prayer for courage and wisdom for the underground churches in Somalia.
ICC exists to help persecuted Christians worldwide.