In the summer of 2007, a 28-year-old father of three from Houston, Texas, shocked his country when he became the first American ever to be convicted of receiving military training at a terrorist camp in Somalia.
Daniel Maldonado, an offbeat, outspoken young man who sported tattoos and dreadlocks, committed himself to wage jihad outside the United States and went to Somalia to receive training. It was there that he mastered the violent “arts” of homicide bombing, building IEDs and engaging in hand-to-hand combat.
Maldonado’s training in jihad came from Shabaab al Mujahideen, a group the State Department on Feb. 29, 2008, designated as a highly dangerous foreign terrorist organization.
Shabaab al Mujahideen, which espouses radical Islamic rule and has close ties to Al Qaeda, is best known for operating training camps for people seeking a more extreme form of Jihad. It also has been forging relations with Somali pirates who have recently been intercepting and holding for ransom several international shipping vessels.
Click here to view the group's Web site.
Al-Shabaab an Islamist group in Somalia officially said that they would track American citizens wherever they are, even if they are Aid workers or Journalists. The message was posted on their website http://kataaib.net/shuhadada%2028-01-2008.html they’ve also issued statements on the website praising Osama Bin Laden and inviting foreign fighters (Al-Qaeda) to come to Somalia. Al-Shabab is targeting all Journalists in Somalia.
The Al-Shabaab website is hosted in the USA by the Dotster web company in Vancouver WA.Visitors...Estimated number of visits for www.kataaib.net 5,037 visits per day.
Al-Shabaab in Somalia is Al-Qaeda, Al-Shabaab's website http://kataaib.net/shuhadada%2028-01-2008.html
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Shabaab's ultimate goal, as articulated in an April statement, is to throw the West "into hell.” Click here to read the full statement from Shabaab al Mujahideen.
Maldonado left his wife and three young children behind to pursue a life of jihad, beginning with his training at a Shabaab camp. Early in 2007, he fled the camp when it was invaded by the Ethiopian military. He was later arrested by Kenyan authorities and transferred to U.S. custody. After a lengthy interrogation by the FBI and a subsequent trial in Houston, he was convicted of receiving training from a terrorist organization. He was sentenced in July, 2007, to 10 years in federal prison. Click here to read the criminal complaint against Maldonado.
After the trial, FBI Director Robert Mueller praised the cooperation among international authorities that led to Maldonado's conviction. But the disturbing implications of his case lingered. During his interrogation, Maldonado said Shabaab is not only intent upon creating an army of extremists for a crusade against the West, but it also seeks to establish an extremist Islamic network of unrivaled strength.
As the armed wing of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), Shabaab was initially packaged and promoted to the people of Somalia as a “law and order” organization. Indeed, the collapse of the Somali government in the 1990s — when clan warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre -- resulted in years of violence and instability.
But what began with a promise to bring order to a broken, war-torn African nation rapidly developed into a new — and increasingly deadly — frontier in the war on terror.
According to Dr. J. Peter Pham, professor of justice studies and political science at James Madison University in Virginia, Somalia's conflict with Ethiopia destroyed much of Shabaab’s original leadership. What has replaced it is a group of cavalier fundamentalists with a desire to create a “Taliban-like” government in the country, similar to what existed in Afghanistan before the September 11 attacks.
Just as disturbing is Shabaab's association with the Somali pirates. While Shabaab's original leaders discouraged a connection to the pirates, the new generation appears to be developing a burgeoning relationship with the outlaws. “Right now, the relationship between Shabaab and the pirates is one built out of convenience,” Pham said. “In return for allowing pirates to operate out of ports south of the city of Mogadishu, which are all controlled by Shabaab, it is receiving from the ransom the pirates demand for hijacked ships.”
Now analysts are concerned that Shabaab will develop a more significant relationship with the pirates, one that could result in an organization with the power to terrorize a struggling global economy.“There is a real danger that they might see an opportunity for real economic impact,” Pham said, In a worst-case scenario, he said, “Shabaab might say, ‘Individual [homicide] bombers are effective, why not [homicide] tankers?’”
As it is now, the ransom money the pirates share helps fund Shabaab's jihadi cause, most likely in the form of weapons for its terror camps. Its efforts in that regard have not gone unnoticed — Shabaab has garnered the praise of Usama bin Laden on multiple occasions.
Shabaab camps have “developed into a cheaper and more readily available alternative for jihadi recruits living in the West and seeking an appropriate venue to obtain expert instruction in the arts of terrorism.”
At night, according to Maldonado, members of Shabaab gather together to share tales of bin Laden and his exploits. “Shabaab has proudly draped itself in the flag of Al Qaeda and the philosophy of global jihad against the U.S.” The terrorists welcome their placement with "other honorable men" on the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations.
Bill Warner....Private Investigator