Telegraph.co.uk 12/26/2008.... Hardline Islamists (Al-Shabaab) are poised to take control of large areas of southern Somalia, opening a possible new front in the war on terrorism as Al-Shabaab terrorists are driectly linked to Al-Qaeda.
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Fears are growing that this lawless area, bordering Kenya and Ethiopia, could become a stronghold for terrorists with possible links to al-Qaeda. Somalia's weak official government, the 14th in the last 17 years, depends entirely on the presence of Ethiopian troops, who are deployed in and around the capital, Mogadishu.
They invaded in December 2006, mounting an American-supported operation which overthrew an earlier Islamist regime, styling itself the Islamic Courts Union. But Ethiopia has pledged to withdraw its troops at the end of December. When they leave, the official government is likely to fall or be forced to evacuate Mogadishu.
An armed group styling itself Al-Shebab aka Al-Shabaab is likely to take over. Already, its fighters are believed to control more than 80 per cent of southern Somalia. These radical Islamists believe in imposing Sharia law and they recently approved the stoning of a 13-year-old girl. See my report Sunday, November 02, 2008, AL-SHABAAB STONE TO DEATH 13 YEAR OLD SOMALI GIRL, AISHA DUHULOW, SHE WAS ALSO GANG RAPED, AL-SHABAAB'S WEBSITE IS HOSTED IN VANCOUVER WA, USA !
Al Shebab aka Al-Shabaab, the fanatical armed wing which broke from the Islamic Courts Union which ran Somalia for the second half of 2006, now holds more than 80 per cent of the country more territory than the Courts controlled during their reign.
There are those who predict al Shebab aka al-shabaab turning into some kind of Frankenstein's monster taken over by, or at least sympathetic to, foreign elements who have ambitions outside Somalia, to spread radical Islam or mount terror attacks, in northeastern Kenya or eastern Ethiopia."
The group, listed as a terrorist organisation by Washington, has been accused of sheltering the al-Qaeda cell which bombed the US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998 and blew up an Israeli-owned hotel on the Kenyan coast in 2002.
Last month, the US embassy in Nairobi warned that it continues to receive indications of potential terrorist threats aimed at American, Western, and Kenyan interests in Kenya including threats of "suicide operations, bombings, kidnappings, attacks on civil aviation, and attacks on maritime vessels".
There are fears that al Shebab aka Al-Shabaab, whose stronghold is the Somali port of Kismayo just north of the border with Kenya, could launch an attack on coastal resorts popular with Western tourists over the Christmas holidays.
The United Nations office in Nairobi has warned staff of a "heightened level of alert along the coast".
Al Shebab's aka al-Shabaab chief military commander, Muktar Robow, said earlier this year that he was ready "to take orders from Sheikh Osama bin Laden". See my report, Monday, August 25, 2008, Conditions may be ripe for Al Qaeda in Somalia, Al-Shabaab is now Al-Qaeda LA Times Reports, The Columbian Newspaper did not get the memo.
His forces were swelled by foreign fighters who answered a call to jihad when the Ethiopians invaded, in December 2006 (BROADCAST OVER THE AL-SHABAAB WEBSITE BASED IN VANCOUVER WA, USA), to crush the Islamic Courts Union.
That intervention, heavily encouraged by Washington, is widely seen to have prompted the radicalisation of Somalia's Islamist movement and to have launched its Iraq-style insurgency which has killed thousands of civilians and forced 1.1 million people into desperate squatter camps.
Two-thirds of the population of Mogadishu, the capital, have fled. This has created a humanitarian disaster where 3.2 million people, half the population, now needs handouts, but where international aid staff cannot work and food shipments must be shepherded by warships to ward off pirates.
"I think it is finally starting to sink-in in Washington, two years too late, that sending in the Ethiopians as a proxy force to deal with the Islamists was just madness," said Andrew McGregor, terrorism editor at the Jamestown Foundation, a right-wing think tank in Washington.
"Unless they can reach out and form some new alliances, which is not an easy thing to do among Somalia's clans, they will fail and we will see the start of yet another civil war," said Mr Abdi. "I'm not optimistic. The future looks bleak and is likely to be bloody."
Al-Shabaab in Somalia is Al-Qaeda, Al-Shabaab's website; http://kataaib.net/shuhadada%2028-01-2008.html
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