21 February 2012. Ahead of the international London Somalia Conference hosted by the UK on Thursday 23 February, the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, spoke exclusively to the BBC Somali service. The following are key quotes from this interview. Please credit BBC Somali.
The full interview broadcasts on Wednesday 22 February on BBC Somali, BBC World Service and BBC World News. The interview was recorded on Monday 20 February at 10 Downing Street.
On the Somali security threat to the UK:
“The security threat is real, it is substantial. It is based on the fact that al-Shabab is an organisation that has now explicitly linked itself to al-Qaeda, and it encourages violent jihad not just in Somalia but also outside Somalia. And there is a very real danger of young British Somalis having their minds poisoned by this organisation. So there is a terrorist threat that is current today, and if we are not careful, could get worse.”
On al-Shabab insurgency:
“I think that al-Shabab has just taken the step of linking itself specifically with al-Qaeda that is a desperately backward step. What I would say is that clearly there are young people who take up arms in Somalia. We need to say to those people, don't do that, give up that path. You are joining an organisation that is now an international terrorist organisation. Instead, let us give this country and its young people the hope of a job and a voice. We could see it all across North Africa, the prospects of an Arab Spring, where people actually start to have more of a say in their country and how it's run, and that should be the case in Somalia as well as in the Arab world.”
On the role the UK-based Somalis could play in the future of Somalia:
“It is vitally important that we work with the Somali community here in the UK because they are quite influential players in what the politicians in Somalia themselves think. So I want them to be included as part of this process.”