NAIROBI—A Canadian woman at the centre of Somalia’s Al Qaeda is known among the intelligence agencies that track her and the foreign militants who praise her simply as “Mama Shabab.”Or, as the Mounties may be inclined to call it, "incidents perpetrated by people of unspecified religious provenance whose feelings have been hurt by non-Muslims who insist on mentioning violent jihad."
It is an honorific title for former Toronto resident Fadumo Jama, who intelligence agencies allege is the den mother of al Shabab who runs a safe house for Western fighters recruited into the militant Islamic organization.
Read more: Documents found on Shabab leader detail chilling plans
While she moves frequently, using forged passports from African countries, it is believed she has operated a home in the Somali town of Merca for at least four years and has supported American and European recruits in the weeks before their suicide bombing missions.
Jama is a well-known figure to intelligence agencies in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Somalia, yet her name does not appear in any public documents and she has not been charged.
But a Toronto Star investigation based on interviews with security, intelligence and law enforcement officials, in addition to leaders in the Somali diaspora here and abroad, reveal a portrait of a female leader vital to the organization.
Her role facilitating Western recruits exemplifies the increasing importance of women to the Shabab — although her position of authority is rare, as most females are recruited only as wives for the fighters or suicide bombers.
Canadian Security Intelligence Service director Richard Fadden told a Senate committee earlier this year that this was an emerging trend.
“(There is) increasing potential for more women in Canada to become radicalized as injunctions against female participation in violent jihad have begun to disappear from extremist websites,” he said.
Update: Where are those Jewish "mentors" when you need them? (Then again, how you gonna keep 'em down on the farm after they've seen Mogadishu?)