Somali families want justice for slain sons

Somali families want justice for slain sons
Last Updated: Monday, March 22, 2010 | 10:21 PM ET Comments1Recommend4

CBC News

Somali-Canadian families in the Greater Toronto Area are demanding justice after 29 of their sons have been slain in separate incidents in Alberta in recent years and only one arrest has been made.

In the past five years, 29 men have been killed in Calgary, Edmonton and Fort McMurray in what police there describe as an escalating gang and drug turf war. They say some of the men were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time or hung around with the wrong people.

Almost all of the slain men were born or raised in the Toronto area and headed west to find jobs in the oil patch, their families say.

On Oct. 31, 2008, Abas Abukar, 21, an electrical technician, was shot to death in Edmonton. Police suspect he had friends who were involved in Alberta’s gangs and drug trade. But his death remains unsolved, and his family says Edmonton police haven’t done enough.

“They stated that in the news when he passed away it was supposedly gang related,” said his sister Asha Abukar. “But I believe that they feel that it’s better they kill each other off than housing them in jails. And that really breaks our hearts because my brother was not a criminal. My brother was a guy who was trying to start his life.”

Abdulkadir Mahmoud, 23, was also killed in Edmonton in late 2008. No arrests have been made in his case.

“It’s like something that keeps on happening, especially in Edmonton, Alberta,” said his sister Aisha Mahmoud. “Somalis are the most being killed and … you don’t hear sudden deaths like you don’t hear car accidents much, or you don’t hear they died of a coma or cancer. You hear they were shot in the head.”

Many of the deaths have been public execution-style slayings, family members say.

“It seems like they want to send out a message, like, do not come near us,” Mahmoud said.

Alberta police agree, saying some of the killings have been “a message to Toronto,” the CBC’s John Lancaster reported.

Michael Chettleburgh, an expert on street gangs and president of Astwood Strategy Corp., said, “When you have new guys show up on the block, the only way that you can protect your drug turf is through violence, and violence has become normalized on the street.”

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