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Somalia’s news travels far — from Encinitas

ENCINITAS — Most Americans associate Somalia with the 1991 civil war that resulted in the arrival of refugees to the U.S., the movie “Black Hawk Down” and the emergence of modern day pirates. Few are aware of the strategic role Somalia plays in our own security and behind-the-scenes efforts of the United States to restore government to Somalia.
Surprisingly, much of the in-depth reporting on Somalia is broadcast almost 9,000 miles away — in Encinitas.
By day, Abdel Hassan is operations manager for the Ecke Ranch where he supervises production of poinsettias and other flowers. By night, he serves as publisher of, a Somali/English language news service, which has become for Somalia what the BBC is to Great Britain. “Wardheer” means “news that travels far.”
Hassan, who is an American citizen, came to Encinitas in 1998 to work for the Ecke Ranch. In February 2004 he launched with his brothers, Yusuf who lives in San Marcos and Ahmed who lives in London.
“Somalia is always in the news,” Abdel Hassan said. “ was an idea where people could get information about current affairs. We were surprised how it grew.”
Today, the website generates between 7 and 8 million hits a month from all over the world, particularly the United States, England and Somalia.
“It’s for anyone who has an interest in Africa,” adds Hassan’s wife, Yasmeen Maxamuud. “It is read by those who work for the U.S. State Department, the United Nations and colleges and universities.”
As publisher, Abdel Hassan writes news articles and editorials. He also consults with an editorial board, which consists of reporters from the Middle East, East Africa, Europe and North America.
Contributing writers include think tank experts, independent researchers, university professors, students and what Hassan calls “average people” who want to exchange ideas and promote open discussion.
“We also like to encourage participation from women,” he adds. “We don’t want extreme views on religion or political bias. And we want unique materials that aren’t published on other websites.”
Because Somalia is known as a nation of poets, the website also features a popular book review section where contributors and readers voice their opinions.
Abdel Hassan says that is sought out by other major news organizations such as the Huffington Post, which asked for permission to post its position on piracy.
Hassan says it’s important that Americans understand why the future of Somalia is important.
“It’s in the interest of the world that pirates and Muslim extremists don’t take over Somalia,” he said. “It is becoming the new home of the Taliban as they are being driven out of Afghanistan.”
Hassan adds that the cost of dealing with piracy is being passed on to consumers who purchase everything from toys and gas from overseas suppliers.
He cites a Reuters story on Jan. 13 about a study by One Earth Future Foundation, a Colorado-based think tank, estimating that maritime piracy costs the global economy between $7 billion and $12 billion a year. This includes the cost of ransoms, added insurance premiums, rerouting of ships, naval patrols, security equipment, piracy prosecutions and other indirect costs including increased food prices in East Africa from higher delivery costs.
“Some of these costs are increasing astronomically,” said researcher Anna Bowden. “What is even more concerning is that all these are simply treating the symptoms. Almost nothing is being done to treat the root cause.”
Yasmeen Maxamuud was raised in Washington, D.C., and received her master’s degree in African Development of Public Policy from Howard University. She is also the author of “Nomad Diaries,” a novel about the post-civil war generation of Somalis coming of age in the United States
“America is very involved with Somalia policies behind the scenes,” she said. “ is becoming a place for debate. It’s where people go to learn.”’s editor-in-chief is Faisel Roble in Los Angeles; managing director is Ahmed Hassan in London; news editor is Khalil Hassan in London; and webmaster is Yusuf Hassan in San Marcos.