On Red Alert

By Hartley, Aidan | The Spectator, June 21, 2008 | Go to article overview

On Red Alert


Hartley, Aidan, The Spectator


'Yaes!' I'll answer the phone in a falsetto Scottish accent. 'Can ae help yay?' If the voice is unfamiliar I lapse into Gaelic and slam down the receiver. This is my strategy for tackling a new wave of death threats being made against me. I have also taken to wearing funny hats, a stick-on moustache and a pirate's eyepatch. Sometimes I will only leave the house in a burqa.

The threats are real and I take them seriously, though I am only joking about the disguises. I wish I could become an accountant and live in Plymouth, but it's too late now. I am a hack. But my life has been on red alert since last month's broadcast of my documentary about the bloodthirsty rule of Somalia's government, financed by this Labour government using British taxpayers' money.

I've been told to beware of carjackings and house break-ins. I get another message that says 'the monsters are planning to hire a hit squad to get rid of you for exposing them to the world. Watch out, my friend.' Incredibly, these threats are being attributed to Somali leaders who hold European Union passports. These men have homes and families in the UK and they regularly pass through Heathrow. Britain was kind enough to give them asylum years ago when they claimed to be victims of conflict, before they began commuting back to wage war in Africa. The UK government even pays their personal salaries, while their families enjoy state benefits back in Birmingham, Leicester and London.

My hour-long documentary gathered on-camera witness testimonies inside Mogadishu from victims listing allegations against these UK-backed leaders of mass killings, torture, false imprisonment and extortion. The city is so dangerous due to the fighting that British government officials never dare visit Mogadishu themselves to monitor where UK aid money is being spent. But when the TV programme's findings were raised in the House of Commons on 11 June, the response by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office's Meg Munn shrugged this off by taking a swipe at the media. 'Reporting is often biased and may be exaggerated to exert influence on the international community, ' she said. Nice one.

While trying to track down the warlords in Leicester the other day, one of the leader's family members started threatening a Somali colleague accompanying me. They also snapped a photo of him on a mobile phone. …

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