The president's convoy had just left when the explosions went off
Somali leader survives bomb blast
At least 11 people have died in an apparent bid to assassinate Somalia's interim president outside parliament in the town of Baidoa, say officials.
A suspected car bomb went off soon after a convoy left carrying President Abdullahi Yusuf. The leader is said to be unharmed but his brother was killed.
A second blast went off near the first, setting at least five cars ablaze.
Mr Yusuf has strained relations with an Islamist group which controls much of southern Somalia.
Somalia: Who supports whom?
By Martin Plaut
BBC Africa analyst
Q&A: Somali Islamist advance
Why Ethiopia is on war footing
Is Somalia next for 'war on terror'?
Combined Joint Taskforce Horn of Africa
|Somali's Yusuf escapes bomb, gunfire that kills 11|
Mon Sep 18, 2006 8:45 PM BST160
By Hassan Yare
BAIDOA, Somalia (Reuters) - Somalian President Abdullahi Yusuf escaped a bomb on Monday that killed five people and wounded several others outside parliament in the provincial capital Baidoa.
He blamed it on al Qaeda. The attack is sure to heighten tension between Somalia's weak official government and Islamists who control Mogadishu and a large swathe of the south.
"This explosion came from a suicide bomber," he told the BBC Somali service when asked who was behind the attack that came as lawmakers approved a new cabinet.
"There is nothing like this in Somalia except for al Qaeda. Anyone who is looking for a solution for Somalia will not get it through political assassinations and suicide bombings."
Foreign Minister Ismail Hurre Buba, in Nairobi, told Reuters a car had exploded as the president's convoy was passing on the way to his residence.
"It was an assassination attempt on the president," he said.
Hurre said five people were killed in the blast. Yusuf escaped unharmed but said his own brother was one of the dead.
Hurre said six attackers had been killed in a gunbattle with Yusuf's bodyguards after the explosion that he said had been triggered from afar.
|Somalia government fear regional war|
MOGADISHU: Somalia’s government on Monday said its stand-off with the country’s powerful Islamic movement posed a “grave danger” to the region and urged the world to step in and avert a looming all-out conflict.
As Islamists and government forces faced off in southern Somalia after two days of deadly clashes that claimed dozens of lives, the government said a full-scale war in the lawless country would spill across borders.
The government “draws the attention of the international community to the grave danger that the current situation poses to peace and stability in Somalia and the region and would like the issue addressed urgently,” the information ministry said in a statement. It claimed foreign fighters, notably from Eritrea, were streaming into the country to support the Islamists, who control swathes of south and central Somalia.
“Thousands of Eritreans and other foreigners, who are answering Islamic Courts Union’s call for ‘jihad’, are pouring into ICU-held regions,” it added. “Our intelligence sources also indicate increased flow of arms shipments from Eritrea and abroad,” the statement said.
Last week, Islamic fighters and government troops, backed by Ethiopian forces, exchanged artillery fire for two days south of Baidoa, the seat of government in a deadly escalation of the fighting.
Both sides accused each other of starting the conflict in Dinsoor, 110 kilometres south of Baidoa, with the the government accusing the Islamists of “constant aggression, war mongering and the influx of foreign terrorists.”
“Furthermore, the government views the attack on the garrison in the Dinsoor district as a blatant attempt to expand into areas in Bay and Gedo regions,” it added. The Islamists have declared jihad against the thousands of Ethiopian soldiers it says are in Somalia protecting the government and pledged to extend the fight to any peacekeeper entering the country.
Ethiopia denies having deployed combat troops to Somalia, but admits sending several hundred military advisers and trainers to help the government at its base Baidoa, the only town held by the two-year-old administration. Many fear that full-scale war in Somalia will engulf the Horn of Africa region, drawing in arch-foes Ethiopia, on the side of the government, and Eritrea, on the side of the Islamists.
Meanwhile, fighters loyal to Somalia’s weak government and their powerful Islamist rivals were on Monday moving towards a key southern town, opening up a new front for conflict in the lawless country. Two days after heavy artillery duels near the government seat in Baidoa, both sides sent fighters to secure Tiyeeglow town, about 150 kilometres to the north.
“About 700 heavily armed troops were late Sunday sent to Tiyeeglow to protect the town from Islamist expansion,” said Mohamed Ali Gaboobe, a government commander. “We will not allow the Islamists to seize more territory,” he added. In response, the Islamists deployed fighters to secure the town, where residents prepared for possible clashes amid rumours that Ethiopian forces supporting the government were nearby.
“Our fighters, accompanied by a large number of battlewagons (pick-up trucks mounted with machineguns) are now advancing towards Tiyeeglow,” said top Islamic commander Sheikh Mohamed Ibrahim Bilal said. “We are going to that town following an invitation from the local people who asked us to help them restore law and order,” he added.
|Somalia Remains in Political Stasis Despite Mounting Tensions|
11 December 2006
Instability on the March in Sudan, Chad and Central African Republic
06 December 2006
New Peace Deal in Sudan Unlikely to End Darfur Conflict
09 May 2006
Thousands flee as war escalates in Somalia
POSTED: 3:49 p.m. EST, December 22, 2006
MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) -- Ethiopian attack helicopters and tanks headed for battle Friday as fighting raged for a fourth day between Somalia's Islamic militia and the country's secular government, witnesses and a government official said.
Tens of thousands of Somalis fled their homes as the Ethiopian-backed government used artillery to push back Islamic fighters who had advanced on the regime's only stronghold, Baidoa. Islamic forces who have declared they want to bring the whole country under Quranic rule said the latest fighting had been started by the government but now they would launch their own attacks.
Sheik Ibrahim Shukri Abuu-Zeynab, a spokesman for the Islamic movement, told reporters in the capital, Mogadishu, that the fighting so far was just a taste of what was to come.
• Ethiopian helicopters, tanks head for battle to support government
• Islamic movement says fighting so far just a taste of what's to come
• Bodies lay in the streets of villages from Thursday night's attacks
• Familes abandon homes, crops and livestock
Somalia govt has collapsed: Islamist
23 Dec 23, 2006, 05:03
Ethiopian tanks moving toward Somalia
23 December 2006 | 11:01 | Source: VOA
|America's interests in Somalia: Four major U.S. oil companies are sitting on a prospective fortune in exclusive concessions. |
Global Research, January 3, 2007
Somalia: New Hotbed of Anti-Americanism
by Nicola Nasser
Global Research, January 3, 2007
Somalia: Country and Ethiopia Will Use One Passport, Somali Minister Says
Shabelle Media Network (Mogadishu)
January 2, 2007
Kenya seals border with Somalia
03/01/2007 19:04 - (SA)
U.S. Joins Hunt For Islamists As Kenya Closes Border With Somalia
By BOGONKO BOSIRE, REUTERS, NAIROBI
http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?F=2459148&C=mideast ://http://allafrica.com/stories/200701...&C=mideast</a> </a>
|Somalia's warlords agree to give up guns|
January 12, 2007
MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) -- As Somalia's warlords were signing a deal to lay down their weapons, six militiamen were gunned down just yards away in a dispute over a parking spot.
Their bodies were propped up against a bullet-scarred wall opposite the presidential palace on Friday -- a stark reminder of the challenges facing the government as it tries to restore order and establish real authority in this fractious, heavily armed country.
The government was only able to enter Mogadishu two weeks ago after Ethiopian troops routed an Islamic movement that had controlled most of southern Somalia for the past six months. Now it must deal with clan divisions that have spoiled the last 13 attempts to form an effective government since the last one collapsed in 1991.
There are believed to be around 20,000 militiamen in Somalia and the country is awash with guns. Other obstacles include remnants of the Islamic movement -- some are believed to be hiding in Mogadishu -- and resentment among some Somalis of Ethiopia's intervention in the war.
Hours after the signing, Defense Minister Col. Barre "Hirale" Aden Shire said Ethiopian-backed government forces had captured the last remaining stronghold of the Islamic movement after five days of fighting in the southern town of Ras Kamboni. He said Ethiopian and Somali forces chased fleeing Islamic fighters into nearby forests and the fighting would continue.
See also :
Somalia: Parliament Approves Three-Month Martial Law January 13, 2007
|Kenya: Bush Hits Dead-End in Somalia|
East African Standard (Nairobi)
1 July 2007
Chances are that the United States has run out of options in Somalia after the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Ms Jendayi Fraser conceded last week that Washington's support for the ouster of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) by Ethiopia might have been a miscalculation.
In an interview with BBC, Fraser conceded that the use of force in Somalia had only aggravated an already atrocious situation.
Asked to comment on the spiralling armed violence, Fraser said: "It is hard to say whether it (Somalia) is better or worse off because I think Ethiopia's action was an action in the context of other actors' actions. It is difficult to frankly say so. What is better is that the international community has converged on a set of recommendations for a way ahead."
The statement is perhaps the boldest ever admission by the Bush administration that it had hit a dead-end in its fight against terrorism in East Africa, with Somalia regarded as the gateway for terrorist groups and organisations opposed to Washington's hegemonic presence in the region. Fraser spoke two days before UN refugee agency, UNHCR, reported on Thursday that more than 3,500 people had fled the capital Mogadishu this month following an escalation in violence in urban areas.
The UNHCR report added that some 123,000 of an estimated 401,000 civilians who fled heavy fighting in Mogadishu between February and May had returned to the capital to find their shelters either shelled by insurgents or demolished by the government.
See also :
Africa Insight - Africa Can't Run Away From Somalia
|U.S. Strikes Suspected Terror Target in Somalia (Updated)|
By Sharon Weinberger EmailMarch 03, 2008 | 12:24:00 PMCategories: War Update
The U.S. has launched precision missiles at an Al Qaeda target in Somalia, the Pentagon confirms several U.S. news outlets are reporting. There aren't many details available yet, but CNN reports that the strike destroyed two houses:
The strike near Dhoobley, which is close to the Kenyan border, was aimed at a "facility where there were known terrorists" affiliated with East African al Qaeda operations, according to the official.
The strike destroyed two houses -- killing three women and three children, and wounding another 20 people -- Dhoobley's District Commissioner Ali Nur Ali Dherre told CNN. Dherre said the remains of the missiles were marked "US K."
The U.S. military official said the United States is still collecting post-strike information and is not yet able to confirm any casualties.
He described Monday's strike as "very deliberate" and said forces tried to use caution to avoid hitting civilians.
Villagers have fled in fear of another strike, Dherre said.
"We woke up with a loud and big bang and when we came out we found our neighbor's house completely obliterated as if no house existed here," Fatuma Abdullahi, a resident of the town, told The Associated Press. "We are taking shelter under trees. Three planes were flying over our heads."
AP reports that "clan elder Ahmed Nur Dalab said a senior Islamic official, Hassan Turki, was in town Sunday to mediate between his fighters and a militia loyal to the government."
|Page last updated at 18:18 GMT, Thursday, 1 May 2008 19:18 UK|
US confirms Somali missile strike
Screengrab of video reportedly showing Aden Hashi Ayro
Ayro was never seen at a public gathering and avoided interviews
The US military has confirmed that it carried out a pre-dawn missile strike which killed a senior leader of an Islamist militant group in Somalia.
A spokesman said the target of the attack in the town of Dusamareb was an al-Qaeda leader, but would not name him or say whether it had been successful.
The strike hit the home of Aden Hashi Ayro, the military head of al-Shabab, which controls much of Somalia.
At least 10 other people, including another al-Shabab leader, also died.
But local elders have said up to 30 bodies have been recovered from the scene, according to unconfirmed reports.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, the US Central Command confirmed it had attacked al-Qaeda militants in Somalia, but would not say whether it was an air strike nor name the intended target.
"It was an attack. If we say too much then we give away platforms and things that we use," CentCom spokesman Bob Prucha told the Associated Press.
Profile: Somalia's Islamic 'lads'
Q&A: Somali conflict
"It was an attack against a known al-Qaeda target and militia leader in Somalia," he added, giving no further details.
An al-Shabab spokesman, Mukhtar Robow Adumansur, told the BBC that Ayro was killed along with another senior leader, Muhiyadin Muhammad Umar.
Considered a terrorist group by the US, al-Shabab began as the youth and military wing of the Somali Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), which controlled much of southern and central Somalia in 2006.
When, at the end of that year, the UIC was driven from power by Ethiopian troops supporting the country's transitional government, al-Shabab melted away into remote and distant parts of the country.
It has since re-emerged as a radicalised group of young fighters, who have been conducting an insurgency against the government and its Ethiopian allies, and attacking African Union peacekeepers.
The US has said al-Shabab is part of the al-Qaeda network, although analysts say it is impossible to accurately establish those links. Al-Shabab's leaders insist it is a purely Somali movement.
Ayro, its military commander, received training in Afghanistan in the 1990s and was an instrumental military figure as the UIC took control of Mogadishu.
Map of Somalia
The head of the BBC's Somali Service, Yusuf Garaad, says Ayro was considered by fellow militants as a soldier rather than a politician.
He never addressed a rally, was never seen at a public gathering and did not like to give interviews either, our correspondent says.
But his name came into the public domain few years ago when a group of Somali warlords co-operating with Western intelligence agencies stormed his house in the capital. Two men were kidnapped from the house, but Ayro escaped unhurt.
He also escaped a US air strike near the southern port of Kismayo a year ago with only a minor injury.
'How the US planned the attack' [video]
The US military is believed to have used a combination of human informants on the ground and precision-guided missiles fired from offshore in the Indian Ocean.
Locals said the missiles hit Ayro's home at about 0300 (0000 GMT).
"We heard a huge explosion and when we ran out of our house we saw balls of smoke and flames coming out of house," Dusamareb resident Nur Geele told the BBC.
"The house was totally destroyed to the ground, also other houses nearby," local elder Ahmed Mumin Jama said.
Dr Ahmed Mahdi at Dusamareb Hospital told the BBC he was treating eight civilians, including women and children, for burns and shrapnel wounds.
"The house that was attacked was a small concrete villa and it has been destroyed," he said. "The adjacent houses which were made from traditional mud were also destroyed. The sight is quite horrific."
One of the women has since died, bringing the death toll so far to 11.
An al-Shabab spokesman warned that there would now be revenge attacks.
"This incident will cause a lot problems to US interests in the region and the governments who support the US, by that I mean its allies who are puppets," Mr Robow told the BBC, referring to Ethiopia which backs Somalia's interim government.
"I am letting the citizens of the US and the allies know they are not going to be safe in this area."
Are you in Somalia? Are you in Dusamareb? What do you think of the air strike? Send us your comments.
|"Nobody Is Watching "|
America's Hidden War in Somalia
By Paul Salopek
November 24, 2008 "Chicago Tribune" -- - To glimpse America's secret war in Africa, you must bang with a rock on the iron gate of the prison in this remote port in northern Somalia. A sleepy guard will yank open a rusty deadbolt. Then, you ask to speak to an inmate named Mohamed Ali Isse.
Isse, 36, is a convicted murderer and jihadist. He is known among his fellow prisoners, with grudging awe, as "The Man with the American Thing in His Leg."
That "thing" is a stainless steel surgical pin screwed into his bullet-shattered femur, courtesy, he says, of the U.S. Navy. How it got there — or more to the point, how Isse ended up in this crumbling, stone-walled hellhole at the uttermost end of the Earth—is a story that the U.S. government probably would prefer to remain untold.
That's because Isse and his fancy surgery scars offer what little tangible evidence exists of a bare-knuckled war that has been waged silently, over the past five years, with the sole aim of preventing anarchic Somalia from becoming the world's next Afghanistan.
It is a standoff war in which the Pentagon lobs million-dollar cruise missiles into a famine-haunted African wasteland the size of Texas, hoping to kill lone terror suspects who might be dozing in candlelit huts. (The raids' success or failure is almost impossible to verify.)
It is a covert war in which the CIA has recruited gangs of unsavory warlords to hunt down and kidnap Islamic militants and—according to Isse and civil rights activists—secretly imprison them offshore, aboard U.S. warships.
Mostly, though, it is a policy time bomb that will be inherited by the incoming Obama administration: a little-known front in the global war on terrorism that Washington appears to be losing, if it hasn't already been lost.
"Somalia is one of the great unrecognized U.S. policy failures since 9/11," said Ken Menkhaus, a leading Somalia scholar at Davidson College in North Carolina. "By any rational metric, what we've ended up with there today is the opposite of what we wanted."
What the Bush administration wanted, when it tacitly backed Ethiopia's invasion of Somalia in late 2006, was clear enough: to help a close African ally in the war on terror crush the Islamic Courts Union, or ICU. The Taliban-like movement emerged from the ashes of more than 15 years of anarchy and lawlessness in Africa's most infamous failed state, Somalia.
At first, the invasion seemed an easy victory. By early 2007, the ICU had been routed, a pro-Western transitional government installed, and hundreds of Islamic militants in Somalia either captured or killed.
But over the last 18 months, Somalia's Islamists—now more radical than ever—have regrouped and roared back.
On a single day last month, they flexed their muscles by killing nearly 30 people in a spate of bloody car-bomb attacks that recalled the darkest days of Iraq. And their brutal militia, the Shabab or "Youth," today controls much of the destitute nation, a shattered but strategic country that overlooks the vital oil-shipping lanes of the Gulf of Aden.
Even worse, in recent days Shabab's fighters have moved to within miles of the Somalian capital of Mogadishu, threatening to topple the weak interim government supported by the U.S. and Ethiopia.
At the same time, according to the UN, the explosion of violence is inflaming what probably is the worst humanitarian tragedy in the world.
In the midst of a killing drought, more than 700,000 city dwellers have been driven out of bullet-scarred Mogadishu by the recent clashes between the Islamist rebels and the interim government.
The U.S. role in Somalia's current agonies has not always been clear. But back in the Berbera prison, Isse, who is both a villain and a victim in this immense panorama of suffering, offered a keyhole view that extended all the way back to Washington.
Wrapped in a faded sarong, scowling in the blistering-hot prison yard, the jihadist at first refused to meet foreign visitors—a loathed American in particular. But after some cajoling, he agreed to tell his story through a fellow inmate: a surreal but credible tale of illicit abduction by the CIA, secret helicopter rides and a journey through an African gulag that lifts the curtain, albeit only briefly, on an American invisible war.
"Your government gets away with a lot here," said the warden, Hassan Mohamed Ibrahim, striding about his antique facility with a pistol tucked in the back of his pants. "In Iraq, the world is watching. In Afghanistan, the world is watching. In Somalia, nobody is watching."
From ashes of 'Black Hawk Down'
In truth, merely watching in Mogadishu these days is apt to get you killed.
Somalia's hapless capital has long been considered the Dodge City of Africa—a seaside metropolis sundered by clan fighting ever since the nation's central government collapsed in 1991. That feral reputation was cemented in 1993, when chanting mobs dragged the bodies of U.S. Army Rangers through the streets in a disastrous UN peacekeeping mission chronicled in the book and movie "Black Hawk Down."
Yet if Mogadishu was once merely a perilous destination for outsiders, visiting today is suicidal.
For the first time in local memory, the airport—the city's frail lifeline to the world—is regularly closed by insurgent mortar attacks despite a small and jittery contingent of African Union peacekeepers.
Foreign workers who once toiled quietly for years in Somalia have been evacuated. A U.S. missile strike in May killed the Shabab commander, Aden Hashi Ayro, enraging Islamist militants who have since vowed to kidnap and kill any outsider found in the country.
The upshot: Most of Somalia today is closed to the world.
It wasn't supposed to turn out this way when Washington provided intelligence to the invading Ethiopians two years ago.
The homegrown Islamic radicals who controlled most of central and southern Somalia in mid-2006 certainly were no angels. They shuttered Mogadishu's cinemas, demanded that Somali men grow beards and, according to the U.S. State Department, provided refuge to some 30 local and international jihadists associated with Al Qaeda.
But the Islamic Courts Union's turbaned militiamen had actually defeated Somalia's hated warlords. And their enforcement of Islamic religious laws, while unpopular among many Somalis, made Mogadishu safe to walk in for the first time in a generation.
"It's not just that people miss those days," said a Somali humanitarian worker who, for safety reasons, asked to be identified only as Hassan. "They resent the Ethiopians and Americans tearing it all up, using Somalia as their battlefield against global terrorism. It's like the Cold War all over again. Somalis aren't in control."
When the Islamic movement again strengthened, Isse, the terrorist jailed in Berbera, was a pharmacy owner from the isolated town of Buro in Somaliland, a parched northern enclave that declared independence from Somalia in the early 1990s.
Radicalized by U.S. military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, he is serving a life sentence for organizing the killings of four foreign aid workers in late 2003 and early 2004. Two of his victims were elderly British teachers.
A dour, bearded man with bullet scars puckering his neck and leg, Isse still maintains his innocence. Much of Isse's account of his capture and imprisonment was independently corroborated by Western intelligence analysts, Somali security officials and court records in Somaliland, where the wounded jihadist was tried and jailed for murdering the aid workers. Those sources say Isse was snatched by the U.S. after fleeing to the safe house of a notorious Islamist militant in Mogadishu.
How that operation unfolded on a hot June night in 2004 reveals the extent of American clandestine involvement in Somalia's chaotic affairs—and how such anti-terrorism efforts appear to have backfired.
Interrogation aboard ship
"I captured Isse for the Americans," said Mohamed Afrah Qanyare. "The Americans contracted us to do certain things, and we did them. Isse put up resistance so we shot him. But he survived."
A scar-faced warlord in a business suit, Qanyare is a member of Somalia's weak transitional government. Today he divides his days between lawless Mogadishu and luxury hotels in Nairobi.
But four years ago, his militia helped form the kernel of a CIA-created mercenary force called the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism in Somalia. The unit cobbled together some of the world's most violent, wily and unreliable clan militias—including gangs that had attacked U.S. forces in the early 1990s—to confront a rising tide of Islamic militancy in Somalia's anarchic capital.
The Somalis on the CIA payroll engaged in a grim tit-for-tat exchange of kidnappings and assassinations with extremists. And Isse was one of their catches.
He was wounded in a CIA-ordered raid on his Mogadishu safe house in June 2004, according to Qanyare and Matt Bryden, one of the world's leading scholars of the Somali insurgency who has access to intelligence regarding it. They say Isse was then loaded aboard a U.S. military helicopter summoned by satellite phone and was flown, bleeding, to an offshore U.S. vessel.
"He saw white people in uniforms working on his body," said Isse's Somali defense lawyer, Bashir Hussein Abdi, describing how Isse was rushed into a ship-board operating room. "He felt the ship moving. He thought he was dreaming."
Navy doctors spliced a steel rod into Isse's bullet-shattered leg, according to Abdi. Every day for about a month afterward, Isse's court depositions assert, plainclothes U.S. agents grilled the bedridden Somali at sea about Al Qaeda's presence.
The CIA never has publicly acknowledged its operations in Somalia. Agency spokesman George Little declined to comment on Isse's case.
For years, human-rights organizations attempted to expose the rumored detention and interrogation of terror suspects aboard U.S. warships to avoid media and legal scrutiny. In June, the British civil rights group Reprieve contended that as many as 17 U.S. warships may have doubled as "floating prisons" since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Calling such claims "misleading," the Pentagon has insisted that U.S. ships have served only as transit stops for terror suspects being shuttled to permanent detention camps such as the one in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
But Tribune reporting on Isse indicates strongly that a U.S. warship was used for interrogation at least once off the lawless coast of Somalia.
The U.S. Navy conceded Isse had stayed aboard one of its vessels. In a terse statement, Lt. Nathan Christensen, a spokesman for the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet that patrols the Gulf of Aden, said only that the Navy was "not able to confirm dates" of Isse's imprisonment.
For reasons that remain unclear, he was later flown to Camp Lemonier, a U.S. military base in the African state of Djibouti, Somali intelligence sources say, and from there to a clandestine prison in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Isse and his lawyer allege he was detained there for six weeks and tortured by Ethiopian military intelligence with electric shocks.
Ethiopia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and office of prime minister did not respond to queries about Isse's allegations.
However, security officials in neighboring Somaliland did confirm that they collected Isse from the Ethiopian police at a dusty border crossing in late 2004. "The Man with the American Thing in His Leg" was interrogated again. After a local trial, he was locked in the ancient Berbera prison.
"It doesn't matter if he is guilty or innocent," said Abdi, the defense lawyer. "Countries like Ethiopia and America use terrorism to justify this treatment. This is not justice. It is a crime in itself."
Tales of CIA "snatch and grab" operations against terror suspects abroad aren't new, of course. President George W. Bush finally confirmed two years ago the existence of an international program that "renditioned" terrorism suspects to a network of "black site" prisons in Eastern Europe, Iraq and Afghanistan.
As for the CIA's anti-terror mercenaries in Mogadishu, they may have kidnapped a dozen or more wanted Islamists for the Americans, intelligence experts say. But their excesses ended up swelling the ranks of their enemy, the Islamic Courts Union militias.
"It was a stupid idea," said Bryden, the security analyst who has written extensively on Somalia's Islamist insurgency. "It actually strengthened the hand of the Islamists and helped trigger the crisis we're in today."
In the sweltering Berbera prison, Exhibit A in Washington's phantom war in Somalia had finished his afternoon prayers. He clapped his sandals together, then limped off to his cell without a word.
A sinking nation
The future of Somalia and its 8 million people is totally unscripted. This unbearable lack of certainty, of a way forward, accommodates little hope.
Ethiopian and U.S. actions have eroded Somalis' hidebound allegiance to their clans, once a firewall against Al Qaeda's global ideology, says Bryden. Somalia's 2 million-strong diaspora is of greatest concern. Angry young men, foreign passports in hand, could be lured back to the reopened Shabab training camps, where instructors occasionally use photocopied portraits of Bush as rifle targets.
Some envision no Somalia at all.
With about $8 billion in humanitarian aid fire-hosed into the smoking ruins of Somalia since the early 1990s—the U.S. will donate roughly $200 million this year alone—a growing chorus of policymakers is advocating that the failed state be allowed to fail, to break up into autonomous zones or fiefdoms, such as Isse's home of Somaliland.
But there is another possible future for Somalia. To see it, you must go to Bosaso, a port 300 miles east of Isse's cell.
Bosaso is an escape hatch from Somalia. Thousands of people swarm through the town's scruffy waterfront every year, seeking passage across the Gulf of Aden to the Middle East. Dressed in rags, they sleep by the hundreds in dirt alleys and empty lots. Stranded women and girls are forced into prostitution.
"You can see why we still need America's help," said Abdinur Jama, the coast guard commander for Puntland, the semiautonomous state encompassing Bosaso. "We need training and equipment to stop this."
Dapper in camouflage and a Yankees cap, Jama was a rarity in Somalia, an optimist. While Bosaso's teenagers shook their fists at high-flying U.S. jets on routine patrols—"Go to hell!" they chanted—Jama still spoke well of international engagement in Somalia.
On a morning when he offered to take visitors on a coast patrol, it did not seem kind to tell him what a U.S. military think tank at West Point had concluded about Somalia last year: that, in some respects, failed states were admirable places to combat Al Qaeda, because the absence of local sovereignty permitted "relatively unrestricted Western counterterrorism efforts."
After all, Jama's decrepit patrol boat was sinking.
A crew member scrambled to stanch a yard-high geyser of seawater that spurted through the cracked hull. Jama screwed his cap on tighter and peered professionally at land that, despite Washington's best-laid plans, has turned far more desperate than Afghanistan.
"Can you swim?" Jama asked. But it hardly seemed to matter. Back on dry land, in Somalia, an entire country was drowning.
|Johann Hari: You are being lied to about pirates|
Some are clearly just gangsters. But others are trying to stop illegal dumping and trawling
Monday, 5 January 2009
Search Search Go
Who imagined that in 2009, the world's governments would be declaring a new War on Pirates? As you read this, the British Royal Navy – backed by the ships of more than two dozen nations, from the US to China – is sailing into Somalian waters to take on men we still picture as parrot-on-the-shoulder pantomime villains. They will soon be fighting Somalian ships and even chasing the pirates onto land, into one of the most broken countries on earth. But behind the arrr-me-hearties oddness of this tale, there is an untold scandal. The people our governments are labelling as "one of the great menaces of our times" have an extraordinary story to tell – and some justice on their side.
Pirates have never been quite who we think they are. In the "golden age of piracy" – from 1650 to 1730 – the idea of the pirate as the senseless, savage Bluebeard that lingers today was created by the British government in a great propaganda heave. Many ordinary people believed it was false: pirates were often saved from the gallows by supportive crowds. Why? What did they see that we can't? In his book Villains Of All Nations, the historian Marcus Rediker pores through the evidence.
If you became a merchant or navy sailor then – plucked from the docks of London's East End, young and hungry – you ended up in a floating wooden Hell. You worked all hours on a cramped, half-starved ship, and if you slacked off, the all-powerful captain would whip you with the Cat O' Nine Tails. If you slacked often, you could be thrown overboard. And at the end of months or years of this, you were often cheated of your wages.
Pirates were the first people to rebel against this world. They mutinied – and created a different way of working on the seas. Once they had a ship, the pirates elected their captains, and made all their decisions collectively, without torture. They shared their bounty out in what Rediker calls "one of the most egalitarian plans for the disposition of resources to be found anywhere in the eighteenth century".
They even took in escaped African slaves and lived with them as equals. The pirates showed "quite clearly – and subversively – that ships did not have to be run in the brutal and oppressive ways of the merchant service and the Royal Navy." This is why they were romantic heroes, despite being unproductive thieves.
The words of one pirate from that lost age, a young British man called William Scott, should echo into this new age of piracy. Just before he was hanged in Charleston, South Carolina, he said: "What I did was to keep me from perishing. I was forced to go a-pirateing to live." In 1991, the government of Somalia collapsed. Its nine million people have been teetering on starvation ever since – and the ugliest forces in the Western world have seen this as a great opportunity to steal the country's food supply and dump our nuclear waste in their seas.
Yes: nuclear waste. As soon as the government was gone, mysterious European ships started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast barrels into the ocean. The coastal population began to sicken. At first they suffered strange rashes, nausea and malformed babies. Then, after the 2005 tsunami, hundreds of the dumped and leaking barrels washed up on shore. People began to suffer from radiation sickness, and more than 300 died.
Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy to Somalia, tells me: "Somebody is dumping nuclear material here. There is also lead, and heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury – you name it." Much of it can be traced back to European hospitals and factories, who seem to be passing it on to the Italian mafia to "dispose" of cheaply. When I asked Mr Ould-Abdallah what European governments were doing about it, he said with a sigh: "Nothing. There has been no clean-up, no compensation, and no prevention."
At the same time, other European ships have been looting Somalia's seas of their greatest resource: seafood. We have destroyed our own fish stocks by overexploitation – and now we have moved on to theirs. More than $300m-worth of tuna, shrimp, and lobster are being stolen every year by illegal trawlers. The local fishermen are now starving. Mohammed Hussein, a fisherman in the town of Marka 100km south of Mogadishu, told Reuters: "If nothing is done, there soon won't be much fish left in our coastal waters."
This is the context in which the "pirates" have emerged. Somalian fishermen took speedboats to try to dissuade the dumpers and trawlers, or at least levy a "tax" on them. They call themselves the Volunteer Coastguard of Somalia – and ordinary Somalis agree. The independent Somalian news site WardheerNews found 70 per cent "strongly supported the piracy as a form of national defence".
No, this doesn't make hostage-taking justifiable, and yes, some are clearly just gangsters – especially those who have held up World Food Programme supplies. But in a telephone interview, one of the pirate leaders, Sugule Ali: "We don't consider ourselves sea bandits. We consider sea bandits [to be] those who illegally fish and dump in our seas." William Scott would understand.
Did we expect starving Somalians to stand passively on their beaches, paddling in our toxic waste, and watch us snatch their fish to eat in restaurants in London and Paris and Rome? We won't act on those crimes – the only sane solution to this problem – but when some of the fishermen responded by disrupting the transit-corridor for 20 per cent of the world's oil supply, we swiftly send in the gunboats.
The story of the 2009 war on piracy was best summarised by another pirate, who lived and died in the fourth century BC. He was captured and brought to Alexander the Great, who demanded to know "what he meant by keeping possession of the sea." The pirate smiled, and responded: "What you mean by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, while you, who do it with a great fleet, are called emperor." Once again, our great imperial fleets sail – but who is the robber?
|Who are the real 'pirates' in Africa?|
Saturday, April 18, 2009
By: Matt Murray
Capitalists demonize Somalis, hide their own blood-soaked history
Recent news coverage has been dominated by sensationalized stories of Somali pirates hijacking ships and taking hostages in order to secure large ransoms.
The Somali "pirates" have killed zero sailors.
Somali groups like the Central Regional Coast Guard
patrol coastal waters and charge a "ransom" on
foreign shipping for using the coastal waters of the
Most recently, the Maersk Alabama, a U.S.-based container ship, was hijacked and its captain, Richard Phillips, was taken hostage. After a five-day standoff, Navy SEAL snipers shot and killed three pirates while freeing him.
The U.S. mass media has portrayed the killings as a heroic military action. In fact, the teenage Somali hijackers were out of fuel and ammunition, and had been frantically pleading to give up Phillips to save their own lives. The United States refused to negotiate.
Two days earlier, French navy commandos stormed a hijacked sailboat and killed two pirates while freeing four French hostages.
Prior to the killings by the U.S. and French navies, there had been no fatalities in any of the hijackings. Somali pirates had never harmed any captives, and in fact, many former hostages have said they were treated extremely well.
Yet the Western media has relentlessly demonized Somalis involved without making any attempt at understanding the larger political context behind these actions. Rather, the Somalis have been accused of looting and plundering and have been falsely accused of being terrorists. They have been purposely associated with al-Qaeda to justify their inclusion as targets in the criminal "Global War on Terrorism." The United States is attempting to use the situation to further justify their bloody imperialist intervention in Somalia and the region.
There is deep irony in the accusations of barbarity and brutality being hurled at Somali pirates: The world’s largest banks and corporations, whose interests are faithfully protected by the media, also have a history of piracy. A gruesome and bloody history that is little known to the modern world because it has been so carefully hidden, but it is in fact the fundamental basis for the original accumulation of the vast sums of wealth responsible for the dominant position held by imperialist countries.
Primitive accumulation: the roots of capitalism
In his landmark work "Capital," Karl Marx attacks the mythology-presented-as-fact concerning the origins of the capitalist system. We are led to believe that it was the hard work, diligence and frugality of the capitalists that enabled them to amass vast sums of wealth. Marx, however, exposes the lie of this narrative. He demonstrates that the capitalist mode of production only began to develop after centuries of enormous "accumulation," the brutal result of piracy, raids, pillage, rape and massacres of whole peoples.
Marx writes: "The discovery of gold and silver in America, the extirpation, enslavement and entombment in mines of the aboriginal population, the beginning of the conquest and looting of the East Indies, the turning of Africa into a warren for the commercial hunting of black-skins, signalized the rosy dawn of the era of capitalist production. … If money ‘comes into the world with a congenital blood-stain on one cheek,’ capital comes dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt."
Dutch colonialism, according to the lieutenant governor of the island of Java, was "one of the most extraordinary relations of treachery, bribery, massacre and meanness."
In acquiring slaves, Dutch colonizers rounded up entire populations and locked them in secret dungeons before sending them off in slave ships. In 1750, the Javan province of Banjuwangi had a population of 80,000. But by 1811 the murderous Dutch occupation had left only 18,000 inhabitants, a reduction of over 75 percent of the population.
As a result of such genocidal atrocities, Holland by the mid-17th century had fully developed the colonial system and was at the peak of its commercial supremacy. It dominated the trade between East India and Europe, and its fishing, marine and manufacturing industries were far ahead of any of its competitors. Yet the masses of the Dutch people were, according to Marx, "more over-worked, poorer and more brutally oppressed than those of all the rest of Europe put together."
In the early 17th century, the English wrested control of the Spanish slave trade to the Americas. As a result, their share in the sordid industry grew enormously. In Liverpool in 1730, 15 slave ships were active, but by 1792 the city’s slaving fleet had ballooned to include 132 vessels.
The English East India Company dominated Indian and Chinese commerce. Its monopoly of unparalleled sources of wealth, including salt, opium and countless other commodities were the result of wholesale theft and slaughter. In India between the years 1769 and 1770, the company bought up all supplies of rice to artificially create a shortage. The result was a devastating famine that caused massive suffering and death.
In the Americas, the British colonial settlers were no different. They participated in the annihilation of entire populations. In 1744, when Puritans in Massachusetts declared the indigenous population "rebels," they set prices for their scalps and capture: 100 pounds for the scalps of males 12 and over; 105 pounds for male captives; and 50 pounds for the capture or scalping of women and children. Marx writes: "The British Parliament proclaimed … scalping as ‘means that God and Nature had given into its hand.’"
To transform the English manufacturing industry into factory production, mass enslavement of children became commonplace. Starting as young as seven-years-old, children were snatched from their homes and forced to work grueling hours under dismal conditions.
"They were harassed to the brink of death by excess of labor ... were flogged, fettered and tortured in the most exquisite refinement of cruelty; ... they were in many cases starved to the bone while flogged to their work and ... even in some instances ... were driven to commit suicide. ..." ("Capital," volume I, chapter 31)
Plunder, slavery, genocide, forced labor and piracy: these are the true origins of capitalism.
The roots of Somali piracy
While the Western media focuses on isolated incidences of piracy off the coast of Somalia, it deliberately ignores the political and historical background of the situation.
Today, Somalia is completely surrounded by U.S. forces and its many proxies in the region. To the east, the U.S. Navy’s fifth fleet patrols the country’s coastline. On its northern, western and southern borders lie Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya, all of which are U.S. client states.
In the aftermath of a total governmental collapse in 1991 and a criminal U.S. invasion in 1992, Somalia was left with no central government. Lacking forces to patrol its shoreline, Somalia’s territorial waters were soon plundered by commercial fishing fleets from around the world. The country’s coastline, the largest in the African continent, became an easy target for commercial vessels carrying nuclear waste to unload their toxic cargos with impunity.
In response to these flagrant violations of Somalia’s national sovereignty, fishermen stepped in to fulfill the role of naval and coast guard forces, arming themselves and protecting their territory by confronting illegal vessels.
"We don’t consider ourselves sea bandits," said Sugule Ali, a spokesman for the "so-called" pirates. "We consider sea bandits those who illegally fish in our seas and dump waste in our seas and carry weapons in our seas. We are simply patrolling our seas. Think of us like a coast guard."
To the United States, Somalia—one of the poorest countries in the world—is of key geopolitical importance. It lies at a commercial crossroads between the Middle East and Asia. A large portion of the world’s oil tankers, particularly European and Chinese, pass along its coast.
The Union of Islamic Courts, a coalition of Somali judges and courts, began to emerge as Somalia’s functional government, especially in the southern parts of the country. By 2006, the UIC, with overwhelming popular support, was able to effectively unify the country for the first time since 1991. However, the UIC did not sufficiently bow down to U.S. dictates, opening it up to being targeted for regime change.
In coordinated actions by the United States and Ethiopia in late 2006 and early 2007, Somalia was bombarded, invaded and occupied. The aim was to overthrow the UIC and replace it with the Transitional Federal Government, a U.S. proxy regime lacking any popular support. As a direct result of U.S.-Ethiopian aggression, over 400,000 Somalis had been displaced without access to food, clean water, shelter or medicine by November 2007.
Without any form of state structure to defend Somalia’s territory, its national sovereignty has been violated time and time again. Foreign vessels, including U.S. ships, illegally fish, dump toxic waste and even mount full-scale invasions of the country from Somalia’s coastal waters. Somalia is roughly 8,000 nautical miles distant from the United States.
In this context, what the Somali pirates have done is completely understandable. The U.S. response to the Somali pirates is saturated with racism with the aim of thoroughly demonizing a targeted people.
|Somali pirates guided by London intelligence team, report says|
Document obtained by Spanish radio station says 'well-placed informers' in constant contact by satellite telephone
Giles Tremlett in Madrid
guardian.co.uk, Monday 11 May 2009 12.59 BST
The Somali pirates attacking shipping in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean are directed to their targets by a "consultant" team in London, according to a European military intelligence document obtained by a Spanish radio station.
The document, obtained by Cadena SER radio, says the team and the pirates remain in contact by satellite telephone.
It says that pirate groups have "well-placed informers" in London who are in regular contact with control centres in Somalia where decisions on which vessels to attack are made. These London-based "consultants" help the pirates select targets, providing information on the ships' cargoes and courses.
In at least one case the pirates have remained in contact with their London informants from the hijacked ship, according to one targeted shipping company.
The pirates' information network extends to Yemen, Dubai and the Suez canal.
The intelligence report is understood to have been issued to European navies.
"The information that merchant ships sailing through the area volunteer to various international organisations is ending up in the pirates' hands," Cadena SER reported the report as saying.
This enables the more organised pirate groups to study their targets in advance, even spending several days training teams for specific hijacks. Senior pirates then join the vessel once it has been sailed close to Somalia.
Captains of attacked ships have found that pirates know everything from the layout of the vessel to its ports of call. Vessels targeted as a result of this kind of intelligence included the Greek cargo ship Titan, the Turkish merchant ship Karagol and the Spanish trawler Felipe Ruano.
In each case, says the document, the pirates had full knowledge of the cargo, nationality and course of the vessel.
The national flag of a ship is also taken into account when choosing a target, with British vessels being increasingly avoided, according to the report. It was not clear whether this was because pirates did not want to draw the attention of British police to their information sources in London.
European countries have set up Operation Atalanta to co-ordinate their military efforts in the area.
|This is London – the capital of Somali pirates' secret intelligence operation|
• Hub of informants plotting attacks, says leaked report
• Several recent hijackings orchestrated from UK
guardian.co.uk, Monday 11 May 2009 20.39 BST
For the 14 crew aboard the Karagöl, a Turkish chemical tanker churning through the lawless waters of the Gulf of Aden, it was the moment all seafarers dread: heavily armed Somali pirates were speeding towards the slow-moving cargo vessel, and there was no chance of escape.
The Turkish sailors were swiftly overpowered and the 5,850-ton tanker was diverted to a port in Somalia, where it was held for two months while its owners negotiated a ransom payment.
What the crew could not know was that their ship had been singled out as a target by a network of informers based several thousand miles away – in London. Security officials say well-placed informants in the British capital, the world centre of shipbroking and insurance, gather so much detail on targets that, in the case of the Karagöl, they not only knew its layout, route and cargo, but had spent several days practising the assault.
The attack on the Turkish ship was a sign that the pirates have turned a regional phenomenon into a global criminal business that now reaches into the heart of London's shipping community.
"They made regular calls from the ship to London," said Haldun Dincel, general manager of Turkey's Yardimci shipping company, who negotiated the release of their ship. The calls were made on satellite phones the pirates brought with them.
Speaking by telephone from Istanbul, Dincel said today that London was one of a number of centres the pirates contacted regularly after the tanker had been sailed to the Somali coast and senior gang members had boarded and taken control. "Every day the chief of the pirates got in touch with people from London, Dubai and some from the Yemen," he said.
At least one of the four or five major pirate groups that are now carrying out the attacks has London-based "consultants" to help them choose their targets, according to a European military intelligence report leaked to Spain's Cadena SER radio station yesterday.
The report has been circulated around those countries, including Britain, that are involved in the European Union's Operation Atalanta to protect ships against piracy in the area. It indicated that the hijacking of at least three vessels, including the Karagöl, the Greek cargo ship Titan and Spanish tuna trawler Felipe Ruano, followed tipoffs from the London-centred network of informers, according to Cadena SER.
In each case, according to the report, the pirates had full knowledge of the cargo, nationality and course of the vessel.
It is not clear who these "consultants" were, but Dincel believes they may work inside the industry. "They knew the vessel, they knew the cargo, they knew the loading ports, they knew the destination, they knew everything," he said. "The knew their job."
Andrew Mwangura, who heads the East African's Seafarer's Assistance Programme, a piracy monitoring group based in Mombassa, Kenya, said negotiations over hijacked ships often involve Somalis in London. "Not only for the Karagöl, but for many other ships, the negotiations involve people in London," he said.
The EU report said information being passed to the pirates was often extracted from the international organisations that control or track the world's shipping.
The national flag of the vessel was also taken into account when choosing a target, with British vessels apparently being increasingly avoided, the report said.
"We have heard this a lot. It strikes me as plausible," said Graeme Gibbon-Brooks, of Dryad Maritime Intelligence, last night. "They are getting more sophisticated because they are funded by criminal gangs from outside of Somalia."
He warned, however, that while pirates might receive information on individual targets from London and elsewhere it was still difficult to locate a ship in mid-ocean. Pirates were more likely to receive lists of potential targets so they could identify one if they came across it, he said.
Dincel said he suspected the pirates' informers had also infiltrated the authorities who run the Suez canal, enabling them to track the Karagöl's movements from the moment it left the canal.
Dincel himself spoke several times a day to one of two pirate negotiators who had both lived in the US. "One said he had lived there for 10 years," he said. "The other had graduated from a US college. The ship's master also said they were educated people."
Dincel said the chief negotiator had told him over the telephone that all young Somalis wanted to become pirates. "He said that he had a car, money and a house. He has everything and the young people see him, and naturally they ask to be pirates." In January, Yardimci eventually airlifted money to the pirates to secure the release of the Karagöl and its cargo.
|Watchdog: Piracy not based on intelligence network|
26 mins ago
LONDON – Pirate attacks off the Somali coast appear to be mainly opportunistic and there is no indication that vessels are targeted with the help of intelligence from international contacts, a maritime watchdog said Friday.
The International Maritime Bureau said there was no evidence to support media reports that individuals with access to information about shipping routes and cargoes may be helping pirates to locate the most vulnerable ships, and ones most likely to yield large ransoms.
Pirate raids on vessels off the Horn of Africa have surged this year, confounding authorities who have been hard-pressed to curb the assaults despite the deployment of an international task force of military craft.
Many experts and authorities believe the pirates target ships almost at random, but the burgeoning business of collecting ransoms from shipping companies eager to free their crews and cargoes has triggered a debate about the degree of sophistication of the assailants.
"Further allegations have been made in the press that London-based information channels have been utilized to provide intelligence to the pirate gangs," the London-based bureau said. "There is no evidence to support these allegations."
"Further, there is no information in the public domain that would enable pirates to precisely locate a targeted vessel at sea and then to mount a successful attack off the Horn of Africa," it said.
The bureau said attacked vessels included fishing boats, bulk carriers and a supertanker, with assorted cargoes bound for a variety of ports. It said pirates have tried to attack naval units, mistakenly believing them to be merchant ships.
"Pirates target vessels that are easy to board and in their vicinity," the bureau said. "If an attack is successfully repelled they move on to another vessel."
On Wednesday, the commander of the European Union's naval task force said searches of captured "mother" pirate ships operating off the Somali coast have revealed for the first time that gangs are coordinating their attacks against commercial shipping.
But British Rear Admiral Philip Jones said he was "bemused" by media reports that the pirates were receiving intelligence on the movement of commercial shipping from sources in the West, adding that the searches of the mother ships had yielded no such evidence.
Despite the international naval presence, attacks on commercial shipping off the Somali coast have increased in the last two months as pirates have taken to sailing far out into the Indian Ocean to attack vessels beyond the patrol range of the warships.
|Shipping Industry dismisses reports of targeted Somali pirate attacks|
15 May 2009
Recent attacks have shown pirate gangs to be wholly opportunisticThe ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB), in consultation with the International Chamber of Shipping, INTERTANKO and BIMCO, today dismissed a number of recent press reports claiming that pirates off the Somali coast target vessels in advance, allegedly making use of a network of international contacts.
Vessels attacked so far have included a range of vessel types from fishing boats and coastal dhows to bulk carriers and a supertanker. The vessels have been of many diverse flags, crewed by different nationalities, with various cargoes on board destined for a wide range of ports.
Pirates have even attempted to attack naval units mistakenly believing them to be merchant vessels. Pirates target vessels that are easy to board and in their vicinity. If an attack is successfully repelled they move on to another vessel. All the evidence indicates that these are primarily opportunistic crimes. The suggestion that vessels are targeted in advance using shore based intelligence is spurious.
IMB Director Pottengal Mukundan commented: “Such unfounded speculation is mischievous and unhelpful. It unjustly detracts from the good work done so far by the international naval forces and other agencies and diverts attention from the important task of providing a practical response to the difficult challenges in the region.”
Further allegations have been made in the press that London-based information channels have been utilised to provide intelligence to the pirate gangs. There is no evidence to support these allegations. Further, there is no information in the public domain that would enable pirates to precisely locate a targeted vessel at sea and then to mount a successful attack off the Horn of Africa.
For further information please contact:
Captain Pottengal Mukundan,
Tel: +44 20 7423 6960
|Hollywood beckons for Somali pirate negotiator|
Andrew Mwangura, the controversial contact for troubled seafarers and pirates alike, to be played by Samuel L Jackson
Xan Rice in Mombasa
guardian.co.uk, Friday 15 May 2009 15.46 BST
He's a number scribbled in a captain's cabin, a name inside a Somali pirate's head, a voice of reassurance to the family of a captured seaman. His government wants him behind bars while strangers rush to shake his hand. He is, according to one headline writer, The Pirate Whisperer, and his story could soon be known around the world.
"So you're going to Hollywood," shouted a security guard as Andrew Mwangura walked through his hometown of Mombasa, Kenya, this week.
Actually, Hollywood is coming to Mwangura, who runs the non-profit East African Seafarers' Assistance Programme and has become a pivotal figure in reporting and resolving hijacking cases off the coast of Somalia in recent years. The actor Samuel L Jackson has teamed up with filmmaker Andras Hamori to secure the life rights to Mwangura's story for a new action movie about Somali piracy.
In it, Jackson is set to play Mwangura, a softly spoken 47-year-old who lives in a two-bedroom house outside Mombasa with no running water or electricity. Short of money and worried about personal safety – he says he has received several death threats recently – he keeps his office in his pocket, four mobile phones that seldom stop ringing.
"The film will be a great honour for seamen everywhere," said Mwangura, who has never seen any of Jackson's films, but agrees they bear a passing resemblance. "I hope it will tell the truth about Somali piracy."
Mwangura is in a unique position to tell the story. A former seaman, he has spent 20 years helping colleagues who had been underpaid, exploited or caught up in other trouble at sea. The trouble often involved Somalia.
As far back as the early 1990s, when Somalia descended into chaos, Mwangura started receiving reports about foreign vessels kidnapped off the Somali coast. At first he assumed it was simply a case of piracy, and publicly condemned the attacks. Then one day a Somali hostage-taker called him after finding his emergency contact number on board a captured ship.
"He said to me: 'We are not the pirates – you seafarers and the foreign ship owners working illegally in our waters are the real pirates'."
The man sent Mwangura photographs and lists of names of ships that were plundering Somali fish stocks, sometimes within five nautical miles of shore, and damaging the local fishing boats and equipment. Other ships were dumping industrial and other hazardous waste.
"I realised that these Somalis were vigilantes, not pirates," said Mwangura. "What they were doing was wrong, but the illegal fishing and dumping was wrong too."
But as the anarchy on land dragged on, the vigilante nature of the Somali attacks began to shift to straight criminality, putting the lives of thousands of innocent crewman at risk.
"People got greedy," said Mwangura. "The Somali mafioso realised this hostage-taking was a way to make good money. They became more hi-tech, using radios and satellite phones."
Mwangura suddenly found his phones ringing night and day, with people seeking information or passing it on.
"The messages come from Somalia, from crewmen and their relatives, ship owners who have lost contact with a boat, or diplomatic missions. It is not always direct – the message can go from Somalia to India to London and then to me – but it always gets to me somehow."
Mwangura, in turn, quickly sends information to his contacts using text messages, to save on the cost of calls. Once he has the facts, he immediately gives it to journalists, which he says is his way of communicating with the families of the hostages.
"We don't exactly know how Andrew gets his information – that's a grey area for us – but in most cases it's very accurate," said Cyrus Modi, manager of the International Maritime Bureau, in London. "He does a very good job in protecting the interests of the seafarers."
Often that job involves talking to the pirates – or at least the clan elders who are the initial contact points for the seven main pirate gangs in Somalia – especially when negotiations between a ship owner and the pirates have stalled.
"I try to soften the pirates' hearts. I say 'I am on your side; please let us send some supplies to the crew and we can get this resolved quickly'. It's conflict resolution – getting people to put down their guns and talk."
In Mombasa, Mwangura's work on behalf of the seamen is clearly appreciated, with shopkeepers giving him discounts and customers ushering him to the front of queues. But the government is less fond of his efforts. In September last year the MV Faina, a Ukrainian ship loaded with 33 Soviet-era battle tanks, was hijacked en route to Mombasa. Mwangura had seen earlier consignments of tanks coming through the port before – they were heading to south Sudan as part of a secret deal with the Kenyan government, he and foreign diplomatic officials believed.
When Mwangura announced that the seized consignment was for Sudan and not Kenya as the government claimed, he was arrested and charged with making alarming statements that threatened national security, and with possessing marijuana – a charge he strongly denies.
He spent nine days in jail before he was able to raise bail. Among his fellow prisoners were several Somali pirates who had been tried in Kenyan courts.
"They had heard of me and came to see what sort of man I was. They said: 'We thought you were against pirates but now you are with us – this is crazy!'"
With the proposed film Mwangura could now be set for a lucrative payday of his own after years of scraping by on his earnings as a part-time maritime consultant.
"I can tell you from personal experience that he is an incredible negotiator," said Hamori, who flew to Mombasa earlier this year to negotiate the story rights for his company, H20 Motion Pictures.
|Earlier this year, Mr Mwangura helped secured the release of a Ukrainian ship, MV Faina, which was carrying Russian-made tanks and weapons.|
A ransom of $3.2m (£2m) was paid after months of painstaking negotiations, although the pirates had initially demanded more than tenfold that amount.
He was arrested at the time of the hijacking for suggesting the arms on board were bound for South Sudan, something the Kenyan government denied.
|Pirates stolen your supertanker off Africa? Here's the man to speak to|
Published Date: 15 March 2008
By Rob Crilly
MILLIONS of dollars worth of shipping and cargo ply the waters of the east African coast every day.
Every vessel runs the risk of hijack after Somalia's notorious pirates resumed business last year, prompting a surge in worldwide piracy figures, according to the latest report by the International Maritime Bureau.
When one of their ships goes missing, the millionaire owners telephone Andrew Mwangura, a former seaman who lives in a two-room shack and relies on internet cafes to communicate with his global network of contacts.
"The ship owners are wealthy but there is nothing for Andrew," he says, sipping a hot chocolate on a Mombasa hotel veranda. He dare not meet journalists at his home for fear his work will attract the wrong kind of attention.
"It doesn't matter because I'm proud that the US or British embassy officials come to meet me. They ask me what I think. That's very good for a common man."
Mr Mwangura, 45, has run the Seafarer's Assistance Programme for the past 12 years, tracking down missing vessels, investigating deaths at sea and negotiating the release of hostages.
He is not paid for his expertise, but survives by working as freelance writer on the side.
At one time he had 40 volunteers working for him, but the number is now nine after his organisation turned out to be riddled with informers.
He has moved from his home in the port of Mombasa up the coast to protect his wife and child.
"The government doesn't like what we do and there are lots of people making money from piracy who would like us out of business," he says.
Somalia's 2,000-mile coastline is one of the most dangerous in the world for shipping.
The country's tentative interim government has little control of its waters, leaving gangs of gunmen free to intercept freighters that come too close to shore.
Piracy was largely stamped out by the Union of Islamic Courts when they seized control of Mogadishu and much of southern Somalia in 2006.
But their defeat by Ethiopian troops at the start of last year has opened the door to the pirates once again.
The International Maritime Bureau says the upsurge here was largely responsible for a worldwide increase in pirate attacks of 10 per cent last year, the first rise in three years.
Mr Mwangura says there were 29 attacks in the last ten months of 2007, compared with two the previous year.
The gangs, he says, are masterminded by crimelords in Dubai and Nairobi who monitor shipping routes for lucrative targets. They pass directions on to as many as five pirate gangs who pay a "licence fee" to Somali politicians or clan elders.
"The majority of the Somali leaders are warlords or mafia-like businessmen connected to pirates, arms smugglers, people-traffickers, illegal fishing, logging," he says. "A thief can't catch a thief."
The first Mr Mwangura hears of a hijack is a phone call from a Somali source or a shipping company desperate to trace a missing vessel.
He uses a network of contacts in Somalia to find the ship and make contact with the hijackers.
"If we can find a cell number for the gunmen and ask to speak to the crew to make sure they are safe, then often we can, as long as we don't give away the position of the ship," he says.
In most cases the crew is released unharmed and the ship is returned to its owners for a ransom of anything from $20,000 to more than $1m.
Mr Mwangura is currently trying to secure the release of two vessels – a local fishing boat and a Danish tug with a British captain that was taken a month ago.
He says he is optimistic that the practice will eventually be brought under control.
Naval detachments from the US, Germany, Britain, Italy and the Netherlands have been patrolling shipping routes and have at times fired on pirate vessels.
Later this month Mr Mwangura, who trained as a marine engineer, is due in Florida for a series of lectures on the subject, but he says he is still surprised by the high profile of the organisation he runs without the help of a secretary, offices or computers.
"We don't have any of that," he adds. "We send a little text message, something that costs five shillings (about 3p] and then suddenly it's big news, with CNN and the BBC calling."
The full article contains 755 words and appears in The Scotsman newspaper.
Page 1 of 1
Last Updated: 14 March 2008 11:36 PM
Source: The Scotsman
|Somalia: Another U.S. Strike on Al-Qaeda in a Terror Breeding Ground|
By Alex Perry Monday, Sep. 14, 2009
Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan
The deadly drama of piracy, terrorism and humanitarian catastrophe that is Somalia took another twist Monday when a squad of U.S. Special Operations helicopter gunships, launched off a Navy vessel in the Indian Ocean, attacked and killed an alleged al-Qaeda leader inside Somalia, U.S. officials told TIME. The dead man was believed to be Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, a 28-year-old Kenyan wanted for attacks on a seaside hotel and an Israeli airliner in 2002 in Kenya. It was at least the sixth attack by U.S. forces inside Somalia in less than three years and the latest in a series of U.S. assassinations of al-Qaeda operatives in that country. According to news reports, Nabhan was killed when up to four U.S. helicopters fired on a convoy carrying suspected Al-Qaeda targets in a village in southern Somalia on Monday. The reports said the helicopters attacked a vehicle, killing some people inside, then circled back and landed to pick up the bodies and any survivors for identification.
The Pirates of Somalia
As much as it seemed to be a successful strike against terrorism, the attack was also a testament to Somalia's longevity as a refuge for Islamist militants. Conditions haven't changed in years. Somalia last had a government worthy of the name nearly two decades ago, in 1991. For most of the 1990s, like Afghanistan at the time, the country was torn apart by rival warlords. Like Afghanistan too, out of that chaos arose an army of radical Islamist warriors determined to bring strict religious law and order to the country, but also open to funding from and cooperation with al-Qaeda. The first shots in what later became known as the war on terror were fired by these Somalia-based militants when they blew up the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania on Aug. 7, 1998, killing 213 and 11 people respectively. But Afghanistan, and later Pakistan, became the focus of the militant Islamic threat after al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden moved himself and his main base of operations there in 1996, after he was expelled from Sudan, eventually to perpetrate the attacks of 9/11. (See pictures of the life of Osama bin Laden.)
But the Somali branch of al-Qaeda never retired. On Nov. 26, 2002, al-Qaeda killed 15 people when gunmen led by Nabhan, according to the FBI, attacked the Israeli-owned Paradise Hotel in Mombasa, Kenya, and fired two missiles at an Israeli charter airliner in Kenyan airspace the same night, which missed. In 2003, staff at the new U.S. embassy in Nairobi evacuated for a week over reports that al-Qaeda wanted to level the new building; there was also a never-executed plot to attack a U.S. military base in Djibouti in 2006. Bin Laden himself has released frequent video recordings urging Somali Islamists to take over the country.
Since late 2006, Somalia's chaos has been felt ever more keenly around the world. The Islamists, under the umbrella organization of a group called the Islamic Courts Union, briefly took control of Mogadishu in spring 2006. But radicals in their ranks declared a jihad on neighboring Ethiopia — a mixed Muslim and Christian country — and Ethiopia invaded Somalia in December of that year. U.S. Special Operations troops hitched a ride with that operation, using the opportunity to track down the U.S. embassy bombers and any other al-Qaeda operatives inside the country. During that invasion, al-Qaeda bomb-maker Tariq Abdullah, a.k.a. Abu Taha al-Sudani, was killed in a hit carried out by an Ethiopian military helicopter.
Despite that success, concerns over al-Qaeda in Africa have continued to grow as the group demonstrates an ever more muscular presence with a series of bombings, kidnappings and assassinations from Mauritania to Somaliland. The Somali connection is proving a particular worry with the regrouping of the militants under the new unified command of a group called the Shabaab and the discovery that scores of young Muslim men from the U.S., Britain and Australia are traveling to Somalia to receive weapons training in Shabaab camps. This year three men from Minneapolis pleaded guilty to terror-related charges in the U.S., and at least three more have died inside Somalia, including one whom authorities believe is the first American suicide bomber. Australian authorities last month revealed they had uncovered an alleged plot by immigrants, including three Somalis, to carry out a suicide attack. And on Sunday, reports emerged in Britain of a group of ethnic Somalis also traveling to the Somali camps for training. It is these camps that may have prompted Monday's strikes. Nabhan was believed to be a central figure in the management of the camps, as was former Shabaab leader, Aden Hashi Ayro, who was killed in a U.S. missile strike in March 2008.
Sixth Minn. man reportedly dies in Somalia
by Laura Yuen, Minnesota Public Radio
September 11, 2009
Troy Kastigar, 28, of Minneapolis, left for Somalia in November 2008. Authorities think he was one of 20 men from Minnesota who left to join the war in the east African country. But unlike his peers, Kastigar was not Somali. His family received information within the past week that he has died, according to family friends. (Photo courtesy of the Hennepin County Sheriff's office)
St. Paul, Minn. — A sixth Minnesota man is feared dead in Somalia after joining an Islamic extremist group there. But Troy Kastigar stood out from his fellow recruits, because the Minneapolis man was not Somali.
Kastigar, 28, was a Muslim convert who apparently had no personal ties to the lawless east African country.
Troy Kastigar's family received reports of his death within the past week, according to friends of the family. The circumstances of his reported death aren't clear, and the information could not be confirmed by the FBI.
Kastigar's involvement in Somalia is a puzzle in itself. He told his mother that he was going to Kenya when he left the Twin Cities last November.
Somali community members believe Kastigar was part of the last wave of Minnesota men who joined the violent militia al-Shabaab in Somalia. While some of the 20 or so men say they left to defend their homeland in a bloody civil war, Katigar's motivations are less clear.
Family friends say Kastigar's mother raised him and a younger brother on her own. When Troy was about 10, he and his mom took up karate lessons in Golden Valley. Their instructor, Allan Kunstmann, now owns a martial arts studio in Maple Grove. He remembers the young Kastigar as respectful and hard-working.
"He always seemed like a happy kid, seemed very respectful, polite, upbeat, positive," he said.
Kunstmann says Kastigar earned a black belt and had a lot of potential. Kunstmann says Kastigar's mother, Julie, was nurturing, and there were no signs at the time that he would ever run afoul of the law.
But Kastigar did find trouble as a young adult.
Before he left for Somalia, he acquired a lengthy rap sheet, filled with misdemeanors ranging from credit card fraud to driving after his license was revoked.
Kastigar in high school, 1999According to former classmates, he graduated in 1999 from Robbinsdale Cooper High School.
Kastigar is identified in police reports as white, but his mother claimed Native American heritage.
At some point, Kastigar converted to Islam and went by the Muslim name "Abdirahman."
Somali-American community members say they occasionally saw Kastigar at the mosque, and more frequently at community basketball games or at the Brian Coyle community center in Minneapolis.
Mukhtar Osman, a former student at the University of Minnesota, says he met Kastigar last fall across the street from the U's Carlson School of Management.
Troy Kastigar was a Muslim convert who apparently had no personal ties to Somalia.Kastigar was wearing a traditional Pakistani tunic, a tattoo on his neck, and a strange beard. He was in a car with three Somali young men whom Osman knew. Osman says it was the first and only time he saw the man who introduced himself as Abdirahman.
Before that afternoon, Osman says he would occasionally see the other men meeting in classrooms at the Carlson School.
"I would just say hi, and I don't know what they were talking about."
Now, Osman has a clue. Just a few days after shaking Kastigar's hand, all four men left for Somalia.
Family members of Troy Kastigar have e-mailed close friends about his death this week. His mother and brother did not respond to requests for interviews, and family friends would not comment out of respect for the Kastigar's wishes.
They say while the information regarding Troy Kastigar's death is sketchy, the family considers the accounts to be true.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story contained comments from an anonymous source that should have not been included under the anonymous source policy of MPR News.
(Producer Sasha Aslanian contributed to this report.)
|QUOTE (Sinclair @ Sep 22 2009, 12:39 PM)|
|Somali pirate ransoms 'could fund terrorists'|
Nato adviser criticises government for not fully investigating whether pay-off would fund Islamist groups including al-Qaida
* Rajeev Syal and Mark Townsend
* The Observer, Sunday 1 November 2009
A senior Nato adviser on piracy has criticised the government for failing to investigate adequately whether ransom payments to Somali pirates fund Islamist groups including al-Qaida.
Lord Jopling, who also wrote a report into money laundering and terrorism for the House of Lords, has warned that paying off pirates could encourage terrorist groups into further acts of piracy.
His comments come after the demand for $7m (£4.2m) for the safe return of Paul and Rachel Chandler, the British couple taken hostage nine days ago as they travelled from the Seychelles to Tanzania. Almost 300 pirate attacks were logged worldwide in 2008 alone.
At present, British law allows ship owners to pay ransoms for the release of hijacked vessels. But if the government established a link between the pirates and terrorist groups, the payment of ransoms would be considered as funding terrorism and be banned by law.
Jopling, the author of the Nato report The Growing Threat Of Piracy, said that many people suspect terrorist groups are behind the capture of dozens of ships off the Horn of Africa. He called on the government to put "more effort" into finding out whether there is a link to terrorism. "There is as yet no evidence that money goes to terrorists, but given all of the rumours that al-Qaida has active cells in Somalia, it would not be of huge surprise if there is a connection there. We will not find out until the government takes the initiative with other interested states to find out and look at the magnitude of the sums involved and where the money is going. It is of concern."
The Home Office promised in June to investigate possible links between pirates in the Gulf of Aden and Somali terrorist movements such as Al-Shabab, widely thought to be part of al-Qaida. In July, the House of Lords' European Union committee published a report on terrorism funding that voiced concern over the lack of information about a pirate-terrorist connection. In Washington, the Treasury Department asked the Office of Foreign Assets Control to investigate how Al-Shabab is financed.
The initiatives have stirred some concern in the City, headquarters of London's leading law firms and maritime insurance groups. Ship owners who pay ransoms that are reimbursed by insurance groups are not obliged to file a suspicious activity report with the Serious and Organised Crime Agency.
This summer the Lords sought to change the law by authorising courts to start proceedings against companies paying ransoms without telling the British authorities. But the Home Office said in a response to the Lords report last month "it isn't up to the government" to issue rules on suspicious activity reports.
The empty yacht belonging to the Chandlers, who are from Tunbridge Wells, Kent, was found during counter-piracy operations. The couple are being held on the Kota Wajar container ship, which is registered in Singapore and owned by one of the world's largest shipping companies, Pacific International Lines. The company is believed to be talking to the pirates to negotiate a ransom that will include the Kota Wajar, which has also been seized by the pirates, and its crew as well as the Chandlers.
The ransom demand for the return of the couple was made on Friday in a call to the BBC in which the pirates' representative blamed Nato operations in the area for destroying the local economy. "Nato operations have destroyed a lot of equipment belonging to poor fishermen... they illegally transfer the fishermen to their own prisons and prisons of other [foreign] countries."
A spokesman for the Foreign Office confirmed it had employed a negotiator and said: "We are aware of reports that a ransom demand of $7m has been made. HMG's policy remains clear: We will not make substantive concessions to hostage takers, including the payment of ransoms."
The brother of Rachel Chandler, Stephen Collett, told the Observer the Foreign Office was doing an "excellent" job.
|Blackwater/Xe mercs arrive in Somalia, Al-Shabab says|
Tue, 12 Jan 2010 01:34:41 GMT
At least 18 people have been killed in clashes between rival factions in southern and central Somalia, and there are reports that Blackwater/Xe mercenaries have entered the country.
A battle broke out between the pro-government Ahlu Sunnah militia and Hizbul Islam fighters in the town of Baladwayne on Sunday and went well into Monday, during which at least 13 people lost their lives, witnesses said.
In addition, five people were killed when Hizbul Islam fighters engaged Al-Shabab fighters in the town of Dhobley near the Kenyan border, Reuters reported.
There are also allegations of US-sponsored bomb plots in the capital.
The bombings will be carried out in order to create a pretext to launch a campaign against Al-Shabab, a spokesman of the group, Sheikh Ali Mohammed Rage, told Reuters.
"We have discovered that US agencies are going to launch suicide bombings in public places in Mogadishu," he told reporters. "They have tried it in Algeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan… We warn of these disasters. They want to target Bakara Market and mosques, then use that to malign us."
At a meeting with tribal elders in Mogadishu on Monday, the Al-Shabab spokesman said that mercenaries of the Xe private security firm — formerly known as Blackwater — have arrived in the Somali capital, the Press TV correspondent in Mogadishu reported on Monday.
Blackwater/Xe mercenaries plan to carry out bombings in Mogadishu in order to accuse Al-Shabab of being the culprits in the attacks, the Al-Shabab spokesman added.
He went on to say that the Blackwater/Xe mercenaries have already recruited many lackeys to help them carry out bombings targeting prominent individuals and innocent civilians.
The Al-Shabab spokesman also told the tribal elders that a system based on Islam should be established in Somalia.
|Britain to ban Somali terrorist group al-Shabab|
(AP) – 11 hours ago
LONDON — The British government said Monday it is banning Somali terrorist organization al-Shabab, an al-Qaida-linked Islamist group fighting the anarchic country's transitional government.
British Home Secretary Alan Johnson said he had issued an order banning al-Shabaab. The order must be approved by Parliament before it goes into force, but that is largely a formality.
The ban would make membership in al-Shabab a criminal offense and bar Britons from raising money for the group.
Britain is home to one of the largest Somali communities in Europe, and terror experts have recently voiced concerned that the hardline group may be recruiting and raising money in the Somali community in the U.K.
In an interview published last year, MI5 director Jonathan Evans expressed concern that British residents were traveling to Somalia to fight on the extremist group's behalf.
The most recent census put the number of Somalis living in the U.K. at about 43,000, but immigration experts believe the true figure is far higher.
|Somalia's al Shabaab takes BBC off air - rebels |
4 hours 21 mins ago
Reuters Abdi Sheikh and Abdi Guled MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Somalia's al Shabaab rebels said Friday they had taken the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) off the air in regions they controlled because it spread Christian propaganda.
The insurgents, who profess loyalty to al Qaeda and are fighting a deadly insurgency in the anarchic Horn of Africa nation, also said they had looted transmission equipment belonging to the BBC.
"Starting from today all BBC FM stations in the areas controlled by al Shabaab will be off air and their equipment will be taken over," the group said in an emailed statement.
"BBC is owned by England and it spreads (a) colonial and Christian agenda in the Muslim world. BBC fights Islam ... it is against the Islamic administration in Somalia."
The BBC broadcasts its London-based programming onto its own local FM frequencies in Somalia and local stations relay its signal. The BBC does not have any studios in Somalia.
Jerry Timmins, BBC Head of International Relations & Africa Region, said, "We are disappointed in this interference with our broadcasts in Somalia as in the end, it is the Somali people who are most affected."
He said the broadcaster had no warning the rebel group intended to close down its relay stations and added that the BBC sought to represent all views in its broadcasts.
"The BBC speaks to all sides in Somalia -- including al-Shabaab -- and reports events as they unfold. It is essential for the people of Somalia that the BBC is allowed to continue to report accurately and impartially on the situation in the country without undue interference from anyone," he said.
The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) has decried a crackdown on press freedom in recent weeks and called the clampdown on the BBC an act of repression.
"This...is a strong demonstration of the gravity of media repression by al Shabaab. We are very concerned at the obvious intent...to get tough on journalists and media organizations that have taken an independent attitude of reporting," NUSOJ said.
Somalis living in al Shabaab-held territories confirmed that BBC had gone off air on local frequencies but said programming could still be picked up on short wave.
Al Shabaab controls huge swathes of central and southern Somalia and has left the government, backed by the West, in control of little more than a few streets in Mogadishu.
Al Shabaab has already banned music from radio stations in areas they control and allows only Arabic Koranic chanting.
Paris-based journalist rights group Reporters Without Borders also condemned al Shabaab's action against BBC, and U.S.-funded Voice of America.
"Al Shabaab has today added another misdeed to its long list of violations of free expression."
(Additional reporting by Sahra Abdi in Nairobi; Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by George Obulutsa and Matthew Jones)
Deadly mosque bombing sharpens Somali war
Published: May 5, 2010 at 1:18 PM
MOGADISHU, Somalia, May 5 (UPI) -- The Iraq-style double bombing of a Mogadishu mosque, an apparent bid to assassinate jihadist leaders praying there, marks a dangerous escalation of the Somali conflict at a time when foreign veterans appear to be playing a greater role.
It is still not clear who was behind last Friday's attack on the Abdala Shideye mosque in the city's Bakara Market district, which is dominated by the Islamist al-Shebab militia and its ally, Hizb-ul Islam.
But relief agency officials in Mogadishu, who have good intelligence on the insurgent groups fighting the Western-backed Transitional Federal Government, suspect it probably stemmed from factional feuding within al-Shebab, which is linked to al-Qaida.
"This really does take the tit-for-tat attacks up another level," said E.J. Hogendoorn who heads the Nairobi, Kenya, office of the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based conflict resolution organization.
"Mosques were considered out of bounds for bomb attacks."
Thirty-nine people were killed in the attack on the Abdala Shideye mosque, including senior al-Shebab officers Abdikafi Ahmed Abu Maryan and Abdulbaasid.
The presumed main target, Fuad Mohammed Qalaf, aka Fuad Shongole, a senior al-Shebab commander, was wounded in the hands. Other commanders, including Mohammed Aden, were among the 80 wounded.
Qalaf blamed "foreign security companies" he didn't identify for the attack, the second mosque bombing in Bakara in a week.
There could be more than a grain of truth in that contention since the TFG, supported by the United States and the European Union, is preparing for a long-awaited offensive against the Islamists.
Eliminating much of al-Shebab's leadership beforehand would give the TFG's ill-equipped and poorly led forces an edge in the beleaguered government's bid to extend its control of Mogadishu and then the southern and central regions where al-Shebab and its allies are well entrenched.
U.S. forces, including SEAL teams operating aboard warships patrolling the Indian Ocean coastline, have repeatedly attacked al-Shehab leadership cadres over the last two years and killed several top figures.
On Sept. 14, 2009, helicopter-borne SEALs assassinated Salih Nabhan, al-Shebab's military commander, in southern Somalia.
There is growing evidence that the jihadists have been reinforced in recent months by battle-seasoned operatives of al-Qaida, from Yemen, across the Gulf of Aden from Somalia, and from the Afghanistan-Pakistan theater of operations.
In late 2009, al-Qaida's veteran field commander in East Africa, Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, indicted by the United States for the August 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, was reported to have arrived in Somalia to take over from the slain Nabhan, a longtime associate.
On March 2, Kenyan authorities reported the arrest of another experienced al-Qaida operative, Hashi Hussein Farah, as he tried to enter Kenya from Uganda en route to Somalia.
Farah, who has an Australian passport, escaped by apparently bribing his guards and reportedly returned to Uganda. He may have succeeded in getting into Somalia to bolster al-Shebab.
On Sunday, The Observer weekly in London reported that a growing number of Britons, including men of Somali and Pakistani origin, were going to Somalia to join al-Shehab in advance of the anticipated RFG offensive as the Americans seek to shore up the fragile government.
U.S. sources said they had also detected an influx of "foreign fighters" arriving in Somalia, many of them through Kenya and the former French colony of Djibouti where U.S. counter-insurgency forces are based.
The abortive al-Qaida attempt to assassinate the British ambassador in Sanaa, Yemen's capital, in April is seen as a disturbing pattern of escalating jihadist activity in the region around the Horn of Africa.
Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, universally known as MI6, has said that the escape from Kenyan custody by Farah underlines the growing danger of seasoned foreign fighters infiltrating into Somalia at this time to swell al-Shebab's ranks.
Meantime, the TFG's forces appear to be deserting by the hundreds because they are not being paid their $100 monthly salaries and diplomatic sources in the region say many have defected to al-Qaida.
The mass desertion by these troops, on which the United States has spent an estimated $6.8 million training over recent months, bodes ill for the TFG.
|Britons join the jihadist ranks to fight in Somalia|
Fears grow that al-Qaida is constructing a safe haven in east Africa with UK groups' help
Mark Townsend, home affairs editor
The Observer, Sunday 2 May 2010
A growing number of Britons are answering the call to jihad in Somalia and joining the ranks of militants linked to al-Qaida ahead of an American-backed drive next month to strengthen the country's army.
Sources say that the influx, which includes Britons of Pakistani origin, is heading to the Horn of Africa as the US tries to shore up Somalia's government in the face of a broadening Islamist insurgency.
Warnings have been sounded about British-based groups offering funding and expertise to individuals seeking to travel to Somalia to fight alongside al-Shabab, the militia aligned with al-Qaida's global campaign.
US State Department sources said yesterday that it had noted an influx of "foreign fighters" arriving in Somalia to swell the ranks of al-Shabab. Popular routes from Britain to Somalia involve Kenya or Djibouti, the small republic that borders Somalia on its north west. One western official said some flights to the republic had, at one stage, been dubbed the "Djibouti express" because on occasion so many young Britons were on board. The precise scale of the exodus is unclear, but "scores" of British fighters are known to have travelled to Somalia.
Concern is growing over the drip-feed of British men attending Somali training camps. Officials are keen to limit the country's potential to evolve into an alternative hideout for al-Qaida extremists from Afghanistan and Pakistan. Somalia's ungoverned spaces raise the risk, say analysts, of the country replicating Afghanistan's role as an al-Qaida safe haven when under Taliban control.
There is fresh concern over Somalia's proximity to Yemen, the Arabian peninsula base for al-Qaida. Last week the British ambassador to Yemen survived a suicide bomb attack as his convoy travelled through the capital, Sanaa. A Pentagon source said recent events meant the US was developing "significant concerns about the growing threat" in the area.
America has brought US special forces into Yemen to work with the army to try to counter the al-Qaida threat. It has also spent $6.8m in Somalia supporting training for nearly 2,000 soldiers, touted as the biggest effort to rebuild the Somalian army in 20 years.
The issue of Somalia has been repeatedly raised by Jonathan Evans, director- general of MI5. "There is no doubt that there is training activity and terrorist planning in east Africa – particularly in Somalia – which is focused on the UK," he has said.
British security sources cite the case last month of an Australian man of Somali origin who was suspected of working with al-Shabab, but who escaped from police custody in Kenya, as an example of the new wave of foreign fighters entering the country.
The movement between Somalia and the UK has led to increased efforts to detect potential terror networks linked to Islamic militants basedin east Africa. The Somali community in Britain numbers about 250,000, the largest in Europe, with the bulk of those coming to the country as refugees within the past 20 years.
Two Somali asylum-seekers were among the four men convicted of the failed attempts to bomb the London transport system on 21 July 2005.
Somalia: The Al Shabaab Threat and West's Mistaken Policies
15 August 2010
They call themselves "Al Shabaab" - an Arabic term, meaning, "The Youth." Indeed, as the saying goes, the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled is to convince the world that he does not exist.
The Al Shabaab terrorist group that feeds on the innocent blood of Somali mothers and children in Mogadishu is an "expert" at hiding its true face - quite literally. These men wrap their faces with cloths and hide behind veils in order to commit all types of atrocities and crimes against humanity, such as: the unprecedented massacre of Somali medical graduates and their families at Shamo Hotel bombing in Mogadishu in Dec. 2009, and more recently, the 2010 World Cup viewers who blown to smithereens in Kampala, Uganda.
The facelessness of deception
Somalia's youth have suffered 20-years of lawlessness, lack of education and employment opportunities, and have adopted acts of desperation to survive. The examples are many: some flee the country as refugees, at times dying on the high seas as they attempt to be smuggled into Yemen and beyond; others join pirate gangs, hoping to collect quick cash despite a cost-benefit analysis that extremely favors their loss; and most worryingly, some have joined terrorist groups who promise a salary, a wife, and long-sought "prestige" among society in areas under the terrorists' control (south-central Somalia).
A group like Al Shabaab is able to exploit these conditions expertly due to a key factor: finances. This group is led by foreign fighters - fugitives from their own native countries, such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Middle Eastern nations. A steady source of income from Somali ports, airports and roads, combined with "donations" from supporters in foreign countries and governments, including the West, ensure that the Al Shabaab terrorist group continues to recruit, train and use Somali youth for their evil intentions.
Who is Al Shabaab?
Aside from the foreign fighters, the backbone of Al Shabaab is a cross-section of Somalis from all clans, regions and dialects, who have all been sucked in by worldly promises such as, a salary, a wife, a mobile phone, and even cars for the "officers." This group led by international terrorists - with the required "Somali face" like Godane and Shongole to play the necessary "house slave" character that instructs fellow Somalis on how to meet the foreign fugitives' standards of law - mislead Somalis and the world alike with public utterances of implementing Islamic law in Muslim Somalia.
Take Mogadishu, for example. During the term of Transitional Federal Government (TFG) President Abdullahi Yusuf, Mogadishu's dominant Hawiye clan-family spent all available resources to fight President Yusuf and his Ethiopian allies. At the time, Al Shabaab consisted of a few hundred guerrilla fighters who controlled very little territory and excelled at hit-and-run-to-your-mother's-house attacks. Mogadishu's clan-centric media organizations are primarily responsible for giving unlimited airtime to Al Shabaab terrorists who played into the common fear among Somalis of an "Ethiopian colonization of Somalia." Mogadishu's media organizations, like much of the city's population, simply opposed President Yusuf because he represented the same Somalis they massacred, raped and pillaged in 1991: the Darod clan-family, of former Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre.
Ironically, today's TFG President, a Hawiye clansman and suspected Al Shabaab sympathizer named Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, sits on Gen. Barre's presidential seat that was restored for the first time since President Barre's departure by a fellow Darod clansman: President Yusuf from Puntland.
What did the population of Mogadishu, their politicians, and their media houses get in return for supporting terrorist groups like Al Shabaab? Thousands of civilians were killed, politicians were targeted and assassinated, and media personnel like HornAfrik founder Ali Sharmake were gunned down in broad daylight by Al Shabaab assassins. Here, it is noteworthy to cite a comic-yet-painfully-true quote by former U.S. presidential candidate Ross Perot: "If you see a snake, just kill it - don't appoint a committee on snakes."
Indeed, those in Mogadishu who miscalculated the dangers of Al Shabaab - by simply blaming everything on former President Yusuf - erroneously thought that a snake (Al Shabaab) would sit across a negotiation table with them. They held meetings with Al Shabaab, appointed committees to steer the "direction of Somalia" after Ethiopian troops withdrew, and even contemplated grandiose ideas of "taking over Somalia" with the help of the Devil's own pet: Al Shabaab. The Ethiopians have gone home, but the suffering continues in Mogadishu. Unfortunately, in playing a zero-sum game with the Devil's pet, one stands to loose everything. Today, the truth of the matter is that Hawiye politicians who held the Somali nation-state hostage for nearly two decades by demanding that all other Somali clans "bow down" to centrist rule in Mogadishu are today themselves in the worst of all predicaments and are begging for Ethiopian troops to return.
Deceptions and mistaken policies
One wonders: if Al Shabaab terrorists are fighting for Islamic law, why do they literally hide their faces? Why did they deceive (a Devilish trick) the population of Mogadishu and then punish them to date? Our Islamic religion teaches us that any man or woman struggling in the Cause of Allah (the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful) has nothing to fear or to hide. But one can easily find the discrepancy between Al Shabaab's public utterances and their actions. Publicly, they speak of righteousness and piety, but their actions (louder than words) point to worldly desires: salaries, wives, gadgets, houses, and vehicles. What is the difference between this group's violent drive for worldly benefits and the pirate gangs? The only difference is the use of language, or more appropriately the use of propaganda intended to mislead and deceive the public.
Since Sheikh Sharif's ascendance to the TFG Presidency, Al Shabaab has not only gained momentum, they actually control more territory for a longer period of time than did the six-month rule of the now-defunct Islamic Courts Union (ICU). The West's mistaken approach to deal with this terrorist threat has been to train 2,000 "Somali" soldiers in Uganda to help form the core of the TFG army. We write the name "Somali" in quotations due to the Mogadishu-centric nature of the TFG recruits currently receiving military training in Uganda with European Union instructors. At home, the TFG remains unable to provide salary payments to its troops - forget anything else. Are we surprised then, that a majority of the TFG recruits trained aboard come back to Mogadishu only to join terrorist groups like Al Shabaab?
Somalia needs major support to fight Al Shabaab, and secondly, to help reach a lasting political settlement using a federal structure, followed by the injection of funding to create jobs and development projects for all regions. But the military-focused solution, such as the ongoing training mission in Uganda, seek to make short-term gains that financially profit outside countries (i.e. Uganda) while Somali civilians are left to apply for Al Shabaab jobs!
Finally, the stable region of Puntland did not receive the training assistance offered to the TFG. Yet, Puntland is fighting its own war against Al Shabaab in a mountainous region. So what are the parallels between Al Shabaab's brief history in Mogadishu and its attempt to chameleon itself into the affairs of Puntland - a peaceful, stable region with an elected government?
Al Shabaab and other terrorist groups hate any and all alternate version of current events - or even history itself. Al Shabaab hates the fact that fellow Somalis are witnesses that the Somali people can self-govern, become productive and move forward in the direction towards representative governance with security and justice mechanisms to ensure continued growth in terms of social development, economic progress and political stability. Indeed, Islamic law is and has always been the basis of all law across Somalia - and Puntland is no exception.
Following Puntland's historic 2009 election, Al Shabaab terrorists are first became disappointed that the Puntland clans did not massacre each other - a common feat in south-central Somalia, where the terrorists exploit the delicate balance among the clans, always favoring the clans that feel "neglected" or "repressed" in order for their classic divide-and-rule tactic to succeed. Secondly, Al Shabaab's disappointment transformed into anger as Puntland's elected leadership quickly and efficiently reorganized the security forces, reformed public institutions, and stabilized the economy. Indeed, Puntland's President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole inherited a State in shambles and accomplished remarkable feats within a short period of time. Al Shabaab's evil plan to destabilize Puntland "from within" was quickly falling apart - as the State rose high, Al Shabaab's grandiose plans sunk low.
Being the bloodthirsty hounds who wreaked havoc in Mogadishu, Al Shabaab resorted to the only thing they know: bombings and assassinations. The Farole administration in Puntland has endured an unprecedented wave of attacks targeting government officials, soldiers and even notable civilians - all intended to create a sense of confusion and terror among the public that government institutions were failing. But the people of Puntland stand united against the spread of Al Shabaab terrorist cancer cell.
On 26 July, Al Shabaab fighters hiding out in Galgala hills, southwest of Puntland's commercial city of Bossaso, attacked a Puntland army base at Karin on the tarmac road towards Bossaso. Puntland troops fought back, killing 13 militants and capturing one of the top commanders. Puntland's government blamed the Galgala militants for the assassinations of Puntland government officials in Bossaso and other towns. Indeed, the undeniable truth had come out finally: the Galgala militants are agents of Al Shabaab. They were doing two types of hiding: 1) they were hiding (physically) in mountains, ahead of a government military offensive; 2) they were hiding their intentions under the clan banner.
Al Shabaab's spokesman in Mogadishu went out of his way to claim the Galgala conflict is a "clan conflict" and that Al Shabaab is "not involved in Puntland." What contradictions! This violent group's public utterances have repeatedly condemned Puntland's government and have repeatedly threatened to attack Puntland. Why then, did this group of terrorists go out of their way to distance themselves from the Galgala militants?
Al Shabaab hate Islam
Every Al Shabaab member, supporter or sympathizer in Puntland must be shot and killed. There is no reform available for this group of terrorists. This is a cancer that is attempting to spread to every corner of Somalia. Puntland's strategic location - across from Yemen via the Gulf of Aden - makes it ideal for terrorist groups to want to hide, knowing fully that the world will not sit and watch and that the day is coming soon when Al Shabaab members will be hunted down in every village of Somalia.
In the Noble Qu'ran, Allah (the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful) says: "With regard to a Believer, they respect not the ties, either of kinship or of covenant! It is they who are the transgressors." [9:10, Noble Qur'an]
In April 2010, the largest Islamic conference held inside Somalia took place in Garowe, the capital of Puntland. Attended by more than 50 Somali Islamic learned scholars from all regions, such as Puntland, Somaliland and Mogadishu, the conference's peaceful and successful conclusion was a blow to Al Shabaab: the war in Somalia is not jihad, the scholars concluded. Immediately, Al Shabaab condemned the Islamic conference and threatened the participants. This is because Al Shabaab terrorists hate Islam and only want to use our Holy Religion for personal and political gain in order to keep their suffocating Grand Lie alive - they wish to continue spilling Muslim blood, misleading Muslim youth to fight endless wars, just because they want to maintain power, money and prestige atop the corpses of innocent civilians.
Is there any part of Somalia under Al Shabaab control that such truly Islamic conference can take place? The answer is a resounding no. Al Shabaab's foreign leadership is not in Somalia to protect Islam. Nor are they able to get into a theological debate with Somali Muslims or other Muslims' learned scholars about religious topics. They are cowards who fled their own countries, who deceive and cheat, kill innocents and sip tea with their wives. They are killers for whom the act of killing has no meaning. If Al Shabaab's leaders had the keys to Heaven, they would have been the first to die. But they continue to run and to hide from American Tomahawks that are surely coming, cowering at the prospect of a fate similar to cowardly terrorist Salah Nabhan who was hunted down and killed like a dog by American commandos after hiding for many years in southern Somalia. Al Shabaab must pay for its crimes.
Those Somalis - both inside the country and in the Diaspora - who support Al Shabaab for personal financial gain or for clan reasons must revisit this terrorist group's brief history in Somalia to understand that they value no life except their own or respect no one except their own personal desires for blood, power, money, and prestige. Remember those pour souls in Mogadishu - civilians, politicians, journalists alike - who supported Al Shabaab for personal financial gain or clan reasons who are today buried in shame, for their own deception killed them.
Those in Puntland, who think even for a second that the Galgala militants are fighting a "clan war" or "protecting natural resources" have already fallen into Al Shabaab's trap of deception. Rest assured that there is only one prophetic truth: Puntland will win this war.
Just don't stand on the wrong side of history.
Somalia: 'Military Force Needed to Stabilize Somalia'
7 August 2010
Somali President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed stated the solution to Somalia's instability is to get powerful foreign troops, declaring that his government can't solve the situation in the country.
"Somalia needs foreign troops to restore peace and stability," said president Sharif in interview with Uganda Pulse.
The president declared that the insurgents groups are more powerful than his government troops and AMISOM. He adds they get support from foreign countries that are against peace and stability in Somalia.
"We are appealing to the world to help Somalia restore peace and stability... we need powerful foreign troops who can defeat the Islamists fighting us (Somali government)," said Somali president.
President Sharif who attended international meetings warned that if the world leaves Somalia in this situation, the Islamists will definitely seize the control of the whole country and it will be worst, he stated.
He accused Al-Shabab of subjecting civilians to terror, adding that the group plays the key role of Somalia's chaos and violence.
Sharif termed disappointing for a large number of the government troops to defect to the insurgents.
This is the first time Somali president said the solution of Somalia is in foreign troops.
Al-Shabaab and Hizbul rebel militias are fighting with Somali government troops and they control much of southern Somalia including large parts of Mogadishu the capital of Somalia.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali, who is in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi met with officials from International Community on Friday over increasing of the peacekeeping forces and launching possible war against the insurgents.
"The importance of my trip is to meet with UN officers in Nairobi, to discuss how they can help Somali government to build its troops and how to urgently deploy 2000 more troops from African Union to join AMISOM," said Sharmarke.
"Somali government decided to attack soon districts and regions controlled by rebel militias, and we need from the world to support us to defeat the insurgents," he added.
The PM government troops said can't defeat the rebel groups without international support, urging the deployment of the missing troops of AMISOM to take part of the war against the extremists.
Sharma'arke told members of the parliament on Thursday that the worst problem facing his government is the defection of troops to the rebel militias who are linked with Al-Qaeda.
African Union confirmed last month they will deploy 2000 more peacekeeping troops to join AMISOM troops in Mogadishu.
|MI5 chief warns of terror threat from Britons trained in Somalia|
Jonathan Evans says 'significant number' of UK residents are now training in al-Shabaab camps
* Richard Norton-Taylor
* The Guardian, Friday 17 September 2010
Islamist fighters from the al-Shabab movement taking part in a military drill at a camp in the northern outskirts of Mogadishu Islamist fighters from the al-Shabaab movement taking part in a military drill at a camp in the northern outskirts of Mogadishu. Photograph: Getty
The head of MI5 has warned that Britain faces a growing threat of terrorist attacks from UK residents trained in Somalia and from dissident Irish republicans.
Jonathan Evans has also made plain that in the Security Service's view the government must maintain special control orders for terror suspects in its forthcoming review of anti-terror laws.
"The government cannot absolve itself of the responsibility to protect its citizens just because the criminal law cannot, in particular circumstances, serve the purposes," Evans said. He added that the potential danger to Britain of extremists influenced by al-Qaida had shifted to Somalia from the tribal areas of Pakistan, which now accounts for half, rather than 75%, of all terror plots linked to Britain.
Evans said "a significant number of UK residents" were training in al-Shabaab camps to fight in the insurgency in Somalia. "I am concerned that it's only a matter of time before we see terrorism on our streets inspired by those who are today fighting alongside al-Shabaab."
UK residents training and fighting in Somalia are thought to number more than 100. They are believed to be of various origins, including Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and west African. MI6, Britain's secret intelligence service, is also increasingly concerned about the spread of al-Qaida inspired jihadists across Africa, according to counter-terrorist officials.
"Al-Shabaab, an Islamist militia in Somalia, is closely aligned with al-Qaida, and Somalia shows many of the characteristics that made Afghanistan so dangerous a seedbed for terrorism in the period before the fall of the Taliban," Evans said.
British officials believe Somalia is now a more serious base for potential attacks on the UK than Yemen where an al-Qaida affiliate developed the "underpants bomb" that failed to blow up an aircraft.
Evans, in his speech yesterday to the Worshipful Company of Security Professionals, in the City of London, also warned of more "signs of co-ordination and co-operation" between dissident republic splinter groups in Northern Ireland. They had mounted or planned 30 attacks so far this year, as against just over 20 for all of 2009, mainly targeted at the security services, he said, describing the dissidents' political base as "small and localised".
Their support is believed to amount to some 600 individuals , including former members of the provisional IRA . The support is less than half that enjoyed by the provisional IRA in its heyday in the 1980s, but members are continuing to be recruited.
Evans also warned of the potential for a terror attack during the 2012 Olympics.
"We should not underestimate the challenge of mounting the games securely in an environment with a high terrorist threat, the first time this has been attempted."
He delivered a clear message to the coalition government and its supporters, who, before the general election, promised to cast away many of Labour's anti-terror laws on the grounds that they threatened civil liberties, saying last night: "The secret nature of this struggle [investigating people suspected of involvement in terrorism] makes it hard for those not directly involved to understand some of the skirmishes that come into the public domain."
He said he preferred to face criticism when there was no prosecution than see a plot come to fruition because MI5 had not acted soon enough.
Nine Britons suspected of having links to terrorism are subject to control orders, the home secretary, Theresa May, confirmed this week.
|MI5 terror warning comes with budget cuts in mind|
Intelligence analyst Crispin Black reads between the lines of the MI5 chief’s warning of a Somali-inspired atrocity
By Crispin Black
LAST UPDATED 2:02 PM, SEPTEMBER 17, 2010
The head of MI5 warned yesterday that it was "only a matter of time" before a terrorist atrocity is committed in Britain by UK citizens who have travelled to Somalia for training in camps run by al-Shabaab, the Islamist extremist group affiliated with al-Qaeda.
In a speech to the Worshipful Company of Security Professionals in the City, Jonathan Evans also raised the threat of increased attacks by dissident republicans in Northern Ireland and made the point that the 2012 London Olympics now posed a major security challenge.
And he warned that it was wrong-headed to share the American view that terrorism was 100 per cent preventable. This, he said, was "nonsensical".
Speeches by serving director-generals of MI5 are as rare as rocking horse manure and, like a difficult schoolboy Latin text, are best understood with the aid of an introduction and a few notes...
Introduction. Never take anything at face value when dealing with intelligence types. There are always multiple hidden agendas swirling beneath. It's partly because they just cannot help it.
The 'psychological manipulation' which lies at the heart of intelligence work tends to cross-infect the rest of your activities. A lifetime sniffing out weaknesses and vulnerabilities in individuals so that they can be persuaded/seduced/blackmailed into providing intelligence makes you think you can do it to anyone.
A nod and a wink here, a leak and a warning there and the public - and all the new ministers, even the Lib Dems - will soon be on side.
Note One. Evans was right to highlight the threat from Somalia.
It is a wild, mountainous and lawless land, dominated by extremists with a penchant for piracy, smuggling and extreme ideological violence - a sort of South Armagh on the Indian Ocean.
A dramatic increase in Somali immigrants to the UK (the number has doubled - some say quadrupled - since the 40,000-plus recorded in the 2001 Census) has made it much more difficult to keep track of any malcontents.
Note Two. The speech is a public statement to the Home Secretary, Theresa May, about how important a director-general is should anything nasty happen.
Evans's description of the American idea that "terrorism was 100 per cent preventable" as "nonsensical" gives her and the government a kind of cover that only he can provide.
Note Three. Like all the other department heads, Evans is also trying to protect his budget. The Single Intelligence Account which pays for all three intelligence services has not been ring-fenced.
George Osborne is said to be keen on a 10 per cent cut. Spooks, like everyone else in the public sector, got used to the Labour years of plenty.
Note Four. New prime ministers receive intelligence briefings in their first 24 hours in Downing Street. David Cameron is rumoured to have been less impressed with MI5 than MI6.
This is not unusual. MI6 has more glamour and, because of the Foreign Office lifestyle - school fees paid, exotic foreign postings, etc - it tends to attract a better class of spook.
Given that it was Evans himself who delivered much of his service's briefing he is probably feeling a little unloved. Nothing better than a blood-curdling speech to remind the politicians what good chaps he and his service really are.
|Blackwater Founder Is Said to Back African Mercenaries|
By MARK MAZZETTI and ERIC SCHMITT
Published: January 20, 2011
WASHINGTON — Erik Prince, the founder of the international security giant Blackwater Worldwide, is backing an effort by a controversial South African mercenary firm to insert itself into Somalia’s bloody civil war by protecting government leaders, training Somali troops, and battling pirates and Islamic militants there, according to American and Western officials.
The disclosure comes as Mr. Prince sells off his interest in the company he built into a behemoth with billions of dollars in American government contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan, work that mired him in lawsuits and investigations amid reports of reckless behavior by his operatives, including causing the deaths of civilians in Iraq. His efforts to wade into the chaos of Somalia appear to be Mr. Prince’s latest endeavor to remain at the center of a campaign against Islamic radicalism in some of the world’s most war-ravaged corners. Mr. Prince moved to the United Arab Emirates late last year.
With its barely functional government and a fierce hostility to foreign armies since the hasty American withdrawal from Mogadishu in the early 1990s, Somalia is a country where Western militaries have long feared to tread. The Somali government has been cornered into a small patch of Mogadishu by the Shabab, a Somali militant group with ties to Al Qaeda.
This, along with the growing menace of piracy off Somalia’s shores, has created an opportunity for private security companies like the South African firm Saracen International to fill the security vacuum created by years of civil war. It is another illustration of how private security firms are playing a bigger role in wars around the world, with some governments seeing them as a way to supplement overtaxed armies, while others complain that they are unaccountable.
Mr. Prince’s precise role remains unclear. Some Western officials said that it was possible Mr. Prince was using his international contacts to help broker a deal between Saracen executives and officials from the United Arab Emirates, which have been financing Saracen in Somalia because Emirates business operations have been threatened by Somali pirates.
According to a report by the African Union, an organization of African states, Mr. Prince provided initial financing for a project by Saracen to win contracts with Somalia’s embattled government.
A spokesman for Mr. Prince challenged this report, saying that Mr. Prince “has no financial role of any kind in this matter,” and that Mr. Prince was primarily involved in humanitarian efforts and fighting pirates in Somalia.
“It is well known that he has long been interested in helping Somalia overcome the scourge of piracy,” said the spokesman, Mark Corallo. “To that end, he has at times provided advice to many different anti-piracy efforts.”
Saracen International is based in South Africa, with corporate offshoots in Uganda and other countries. The company, which declined to comment, was formed with the remnants of Executive Outcomes, a private mercenary firm composed largely of former South African special operations troops that operated throughout Africa in the 1990s.
The company makes little public about its operations and personnel, but it appears to be run by Lafras Luitingh, a former officer in South Africa’s Civil Cooperation Bureau, an apartheid-era internal security force notorious for killing opponents of the government.
American officials have said little about Saracen since news reports about the company’s planned operations in Somalia emerged last month. Philip J. Crowley, a State Department spokesman, said in December that the American government was “concerned about the lack of transparency” of Saracen’s funding and plans.
For now, the Obama administration remains committed to bolstering Somalia’s government with about 8,000 peacekeeping troops from Burundi and Uganda operating under a United Nations banner. Indigenous Somali forces are also being trained in Uganda.
Saracen has yet to formally announce its plans in Somalia, and there appear to be bitter disagreements within Somalia’s fractious government about whether to hire the South African firm. Somali officials have said that Saracen’s operations — which would also include training an antipiracy army in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland — are being financed by an anonymous Middle Eastern country.
Several people with knowledge of Saracen’s operations confirmed that that was the United Arab Emirates. A spokesman for the Emirates’s Embassy in Washington declined to comment on Saracen or Mr. Prince’s involvement in the company.
One person involved in the project, speaking on condition of anonymity because Saracen’s plans are not yet public, said that new ideas for combating piracy and battling the Shabab are needed because “to date, other missions have not been successful.”
At least one of Saracen’s past forays into training militias drew an international rebuke. Saracen’s Uganda subsidiary was implicated in a 2002 United Nations Security Council report for training rebel paramilitary forces in Congo.
That reported identified one of Saracen Uganda’s owners as retired Lt. Gen Salim Saleh, the half- brother of Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni. The report also accused General Saleh and other Ugandan officers of using their ties to paramilitaries to plunder Congolese diamonds, gold and timber.
According to a Jan. 12 confidential report by the African Union, Mr. Prince “is at the top of the management chain of Saracen and provided seed money for the Saracen contract.” A Western official working in Somalia said he believed that it was Mr. Prince who first raised the idea of the Saracen contract with members of the Emirates’s ruling families, with whom he has a close relationship.
Two former American officials are helping broker the delicate negotiations between the Somali government, Saracen and the Emirates. Pierre-Richard Prosper, a former United States ambassador at large for war crimes, and Michael Shanklin, a former Central Intelligence Agency station chief in Mogadishu, are both serving as advisors to the Somali government, according to people involved in the project. Both Mr. Prosper and Mr. Shanklin are apparently being paid by the United Arab Emirates.
Saracen is currently training a 1,000-member antipiracy militia in Puntland, in northern Somalia, and plans a separate militia in Mogadishu. The company has trained a first group of 150 militia members and is drilling a second group of equal size, an official familiar with the company’s operations said.
In December, Somalia’s Ministry of Information issued a news release saying that Saracen was contracted to train security personnel and to carry out humanitarian work. That statement said the contract “is a limited engagement that is clearly defined and geared towards filling a need that is not met by other sources at this time.”
For years, Mr. Prince, a multimillionaire former Navy SEAL, has tried to spot new business opportunities in the security world. In 2008, he sought to capitalize on the growing rash of piracy off the Horn of Africa to win Blackwater contracts from companies that that frequent the shipping lanes there. He even reconfigured a 183-foot oceanographic research vessel into a pirate-hunting ship for hire, complete with drone aircraft and .50-caliber machine guns.
In the spring of 2005, he met with Central Intelligence Agency officials about his proposal for a “quick reaction force” — a special cadre of Blackwater personnel who could handle paramilitary assignments for the agency anywhere in the world.
Mr. Prince began his pitch at C.I.A. headquarters by stating “from the early days of the American republic, the nation has relied on mercenaries for its defense,” according to a former government official who attended the meeting.
The pitch was not particularly well received, said the former official, because Mr. Prince was, in essence, proposing to replace the spy agency’s own in-house paramilitary force, the Special Activities Division.
Despite all of Blackwater’s legal troubles, Mr. Prince has never been charged with any criminal activity.
In an interview in the November issue of Men’s Journal, Mr. Prince expressed frustration with the wave of lawsuits filed against Blackwater.
Mr. Prince, who said that moving to Abu Dhabi would “make it harder for the jackals to get my money,” said he intended to find business opportunities in “the energy field.”
Saracen International Reportedly Has Blackwater Founder’s Support - NYTimes.com
|11 June 2011 Last updated at 18:08|
'US Africa embassy bomber Fazul Abdullah Mohammed dead'
Fazul Abdullah Mohammed (FBI) Mohammed survived a US air strike in southern Somalia in 2007
Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, suspected of having played a key role in the 1998 US embassy bombings in East Africa, has been killed in Somalia, officials say.
Mr Mohammed was shot dead by Somali government forces early on Wednesday at a checkpoint in the capital, Mogadishu.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Mr Mohammed's death represented a "significant blow to al-Qaeda".
He became the most wanted man in Africa with a $5m bounty on his head after the 1998 attacks, which killed 224 people.
Mr Mohammed is reported to have later become the head of al-Qaeda in East Africa.
Mr Mohammed and a fellow militant were shot dead by Somali Transitional Federal Government forces at a checkpoint in Mogadishu, Somali security officials told AFP and Reuters.
"Our forces fired on two men who refused to stop at a roadblock. They tried to defend themselves when they were surrounded by our men," TFG commander Abdikarim Yusuf told AFP.
"We took their ID documents, one of which was a foreign passport," he said, adding that medicine, mobile phones and laptops were also found.
Somali sources told AFP that Mr Mohammed was carrying some $40,000 in cash and a South African passport bearing the name "Daniel Robinson".
Later, an official at Somalia's National Security Agency told AFP that DNA tests it had "confirmed by DNA tests carried out with our partners that it definitely was Fazul Abdullah".
Halima Aden, a senior Somali national security officer, also confirmed that Mr Mohammed was killed at a checkpoint this week, and that he had a South African passport.
Fazul Abdullah Mohammed
Born in Moroni, Comoros islands, in the Indian Ocean
Indicted in the US over 1998 US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania
One of FBI's most wanted terror suspects with $5m reward
Speaks French, Swahili, Arabic, English and Comoran
Profile: Fazul Abdullah Mohammed
In pictures: Life of Fazul Abdullah Mohammed
There has been no confirmation from the US authorities, but one unnamed official told the BBC: "There's strong reason to believe he's dead. He was killed at a police checkpoint in Mogadishu."
One source told AFP that the incident took place at about 0200 on Wednesday (2300 GMT on Tuesday) in the Afgooye corridor, a 20km-long strip of land north-west of Mogadishu.
Photographs published by AFP showed the faces of the bodies.
But a spokesman for the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia said the photos did not appear to resemble Mr Mohammed.
Kenya's Police Commissioner, Matthew Iteere, told reporters on Saturday that he had been told that "there were two terrorists who were killed in Somalia on Wednesday.
"They were identified as Fazul Mohammed and Ali Dere. That is what we have been told by our counterparts," he said.
Born in the Comoros islands in the early 1970s, Mr Mohammed is believed to have joined al-Qaeda in Afghanistan during the 1990s.
After the bombings of the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in 1998, which killed 224 people, the US accused him of involvement and issued a $5m reward for information leading to capture.
In 2002, Mr Mohammed was reported to have been put in charge of al-Qaeda operations in East Africa. That year, he was blamed for the bombing of a beach resort in Kikambala, Kenya, which left 13 people dead, and an attempt to shoot down an Israeli passenger aircraft.
In 2007, he survived a US air strike on the southern Somali coastal village of Hayo, near the town of Ras Kamboni.
In recent years, Mr Mohammed is thought to have fought alongside members of the Somali Islamist militant group, al-Shabab, which declared allegiance to al-Qaeda in 2010.
Al-Shabab controls much of southern Somalia and has been fighting government forces and African Union troops for control of Mogadishu. It said reports of Mr Mohammed's death were untrue.
BBC News - 'US Africa embassy bomber Fazul Abdullah Mohammed dead'
|Somali terror suspect captured in US 'linked to Anwar al-Awlaki|
A Somali terror suspect captured and detained by the United States has links to Anwar al-Awlaki, a key leader of Al-Qaeda's branch in Yemen, a US official said Thursday.
The US administration has ordered Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen to be targeted
6:30AM BST 08 Jul 2011
Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame, who was captured in the Gulf by the US military on April 19 and is now facing terror charges, had contacts with Awlaki and "was a key interlocutor" between Somalia's Shabaab Islamist insurgency and Awlaki's Al-Qaeda outfit in Yemen, the official said.
"He was a senior commander" in Shabaab, said the official.
The Somali national was indicted on Tuesday in a New York court on charges of providing material support to both Shabaab and Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, (AQAP).
Warsame, 25, faces nine counts including acting as a go-between between the two groups, providing them with both money and training between 2007 and 2011. He faces a life sentence if convicted on the terror and weapons charges.
US officials say Awlaki, an American citizen who remains at large in Yemen, is a powerful leader of AQAP and is suspected of instigating a string of attacks against the United States, including a failed attempt to blow up a US-bound airliner.
The Saudi and Yemeni Al-Qaeda branches merged in January 2009 to form the Yemen-based AQAP.
US officials have voiced concern about deepening ties between AQAP and Shabaab and that the Somali insurgency may broaden its focus to try to strike at Western targets outside of Somalia.
The Shabaab rebels are locked in a protracted battle with the country's weak, Western-backed government for control of the Horn of Africa nation.
The Shabaab are currently facing an unprecedented offensive launched by the transitional government and backed by the African Union peacekeeping mission in Mogadishu.
The Shabaab have suffered serious setbacks during the major offensive launched in February by the government and backed by the AU peacekeeping mission.
The US government meanwhile has defended the treatment of Warsame, who was interrogated for two months on an American warship.
US officials said Warsame provided "valuable" intelligence and that military and civilian interrogators strictly followed Army rules that prohibit abuse or torture of a detainee.
Somali terror suspect captured in US 'linked to Anwar al-Awlaki - Telegraph
Mogadishu truck bomb kills dozens
Al-Shabaab claims responsibility for deadly explosion outside government buildings in Somalian capital
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 4 October 2011 10.53 BST
An injured man is carried from the scene of a truck bomb in Mogadishu. Photograph: Omar Faruk/Reuters
A truck bomb has killed at least 65 people at government buildings in the heart of the Somalian capital, an ambulance worker said.
Al-Shabaab insurgents have claimed responsibility for the attack. Witnesses said there was a loud blast at a compound housing four government ministries in the K4 (kilometre four) area of Mogadishu, where students had gathered to take exams. Police said a truck had exploded at the gate.
"We have carried 65 dead bodies and 50 injured people," Ali Muse, an ambulance co-ordinator, told Reuters. "Some are still lying there. Most of the people have burns."
Muse said it looked as though the truck had been packed with petrol and explosives. He said students, soldiers and civilians were among the dead.
A Reuters reporter said he had seen nine bodies at the compound, which is in a part of the capital under the control of government forces and African Union peacekeeping troops.
The reporter said scores of people who had suffered burns were walking to a nearby hospital, and police were trying to free more students trapped inside the damaged buildings.
The al-Qaida-linked al-Shabaab rebels had threatened to carry out attacks on government institutions after pulling most of their fighters out of Mogadishu in early August.
"Al-Shabaab carried out that attack," a spokesman for the insurgents told Reuters. "Our target was the ministries."
A second Reuters reporter nearby saw a government pick-up truck leaving the scene, carrying two covered bodies and another five people who had bloodied faces. He said police were shooting into the air to disperse crowds.
Mogadishu truck bomb: al-Shabaab insurgents claim responsibility
The suicide attack is the most devastating since the al-Qaida-linked group withdrew from Mogadishu in August
Clar Ni Chonghaile in Nairobi
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 4 October 2011 12.31 BST
A suicide truck bomb has exploded outside a compound housing government buildings in Mogadishu, killing at least 65 people and maiming scores in one of the most devastating attacks claimed by al-Shabaab insurgents since they withdrew most of their forces from the Somali capital.
The explosion ripped through the K4 (Kilometre Four) area of Mogadishu, which is under the control of government troops and African Union peacekeeping forces. Many of those killed and injured were students and parents waiting for exam results at the Ministry of Higher Education. Buildings were destroyed and rescue workers struggled to free people trapped in the debris while the walking wounded made their way to the battered city's hospitals. News reports said students had gathered inside the compound to take exams.
"We have carried 65 dead bodies and 50 injured people," the ambulance co-ordinator Ali Muse told Reuters. "Some are still lying there. Most of the people have burns."
A Reuters reporter said scores of people with burns were walking to a nearby hospital and police were trying to evacuate more students trapped inside the damaged buildings.
The Somali government put the death toll at 15 with more than 20 injured from the suicide bombing.
"The casualties are mostly students and parents who were waiting for results of scholarships from the Ministry of Higher Education," the government said in a statement.
"The attack shows that the danger from terrorists is not yet over and that there are obviously still people who want to derail the advances that the Somali people have made towards [peace]," it said.
Lieutenant Colonel Paddy Ankunda, a spokesman for the African Union peacekeeping force Amisom, which has 9,000 troops in the country, said the explosion had been caused by a suicide vehicle bomb, but that he had no definite figures yet on casualties.
"We have conflicting reports. Some people are still lying under the debris because buildings fell down … we are trying to pull them out. Amisom has sent excavators," he told the Guardian by phone.
Al-Shabaab, which is linked to al-Qaida, claimed responsibility for the blasts, Reuters reported. The group, which is fighting the weak Transitional Federal Government, pulled most of its fighters out of Mogadishu in early August but threatened to carry out attacks on government installations.
"This is the biggest attack since al-Shabaab was defeated," said Ankunda. "This was expected because we knew they would go more into this kind of attack, including suicide attacks," he said.
Asked what Amisom's response would be, he said: "Vigilance. We need more vigilance."
A Somali living in Nairobi, who spoke on condition of anonymity, described what he had heard about the blast.
"My house is in K6, which is 1km from the bombing, and all the glass windows are shattered so that tells you how strong the blast was," he said.
|Kenya's advance in Somalia surprises U.S. officials|
MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) – Kenyan troops surprised U.S. officials by entering Somalia last weekend, even though the U.S. had urged Kenya to take measures to improve security along its border with Somalia following a spate of kidnappings, officials said Thursday.
One U.S. official said that the Americans had not been informed before hundreds of Kenyan troops rolled over the border, pushing 60 miles (100 kilometers) into Somalia. Kenya is a close American ally and the Kenyan military receives substantial training and funding from the U.S.
Another official said that the U.S. had been pushing Kenya to improve its border security after Somali gunmen kidnapped four foreigners from Kenyan soil in the past six weeks. One elderly French hostage has died and the husband of a British woman was killed when she was carried off.
The U.S. official in Nairobi who is familiar with security operations but not authorized to speak to the press told The Associated Press Thursday that the U.S. has been pressuring Kenya to "do something" because Kenya's response to the deteriorating security situation before has been "pathetic."
He said he was not sure if the U.S. knew that Kenya would make a military move in Somalia, but that it shouldn't have come as too big of a suprise because of the U.S. pressure. But a third U.S. official said that did not mean the U.S. had encouraged Kenya to enter Somalia. All of the officials spoke on condition of anonymity.
A military spokesman said Kenya's force will stay in Somalia until the insurgency is defeated.
But Kenya's troops are untested and it isn't clear they are prepared for a long-term occupation requiring counterinsurgency skills — a scenario that ended U.S. and Ethiopian interventions during Somalia's 20-year-old civil war. The Somalia operation is Kenya's biggest foreign military commitment since independence in 1963.
On Thursday, fierce fighting in Mogadishu claimed the lives of at least 10 peacekeepers and dozens of government soldiers. Al-Shabab fighters displayed dozens of bodies which they said were African Union peacekeepers but it was unclear if some of them might be government troops. Eyewitness Ali Abdullahi Nor said he counted 54 bodies.
An AU official said that 10 soldiers had been killed and 30 wounded, and fighting was still continuing on Thursday night. He asked for anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.
Unless Somalia overcomes the conditions that helped create al-Shabab — corruption, insecurity and a lack of social services — a similar group could rise even if al-Shabab was defeated.
Al-Shabab's forerunner, the Islamic Courts Union, was widely welcomed when it took power in 2006 because it provided security and had a relative lack of corruption, said Roger Middleton, a Somalia expert researcher at London-based think tank Chatham House.
But al-Shabab — formed from the extreme youth wing of the union — has lost a lot of support, partly due to its mishandling of a famine that has cost tens of thousands of lives in its drought-stricken southern strongholds. The group refused many aid agencies permission to operate and levied extortionate taxes on impoverished farmers and herdsmen.
The militia also carries out public amputations, beheadings and stonings, Middleton said.
"But, there's a good chance that foreign military intervention in Somalia could serve as a lightning rod for opposition that could coalesce around al-Shabab," he said.
Somalis had overcome clan divisions to unite against the U.N. and U.S. troops in 1993 and to fight Ethiopians after they invaded in 2006, he said. Kenya is a mostly Christian nation, and Somalia overwhelmingly Muslim — something al-Shabab propagandists have already seized on.
The current Somali government is limited to the capital, entirely dependent on foreign support and has shown little inclination to provide services or tackle theft by officials. Starving parents from the countryside camp with their skeletal children under plastic sheets even as businessmen openly steal and sell foreign food aid.
The United States now funds a 9,000-strong African Union peacekeeping force and pays Somali government troops battling the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab militia. But African Union and government operations are mostly limited to the capital, a devastated seaside city of smashed buildings and potholed streets that they almost fully control.
A Nairobi-based diplomat said Kenya has appealed several times for U.S. assistance on the intervention, but that it appears the U.S. worries that the plan has not been fully thought out and may compete with the efforts of the U.N.-backed government in Mogadishu. The diplomat asked for anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.
The Kenyans have met little resistance since sending in forces. They have penetrated about 60 miles (100 kilometers) into Somalia but al-Shabab still has bases near the border. Kenyan troops and a pro-government Somali militia rolled into the southern town of Ras Kamboni, 2 miles (3 kilometers) from the Kenya-Somalia border, on Thursday morning, residents said.
The town has great historical resonance: it was used as a training ground by the al-Itihad al-Islam group in the 1980s, and it was the scene of the Islamic Courts Union's last stand in 2007, when they were chased from power by Ethiopian troops. It is also the clan base of many of the fighters in the pro-government 'Jubaland' militia, recruited and trained by Kenya.
"Kenyan troops and other soldiers arrived here in the morning today after planes flew overheard for hours," said town elder Mohamud Sanyare. "Some people are happy and some maybe not happy. Some of the soldiers arrived here are the sons of families living here and so they welcomed them."
Soldiers were doing foot patrols and searching houses, he said.
"We are going to be there until the (Somali government) has effectively reduced the capacity of al-Shabab to fire a single round … We want to ensure there is no al-Shabab," Kenyan military spokesman Maj. Emmanuel Chirchir told The Associated Press. "We want to destroy all their weapons."
"This provides a vantage point for us to clear al-Shabab and pirates from the Somali coast in Kismayo," Chirchir said. "Al-Shabab is in disarray."
His words were the clearest statement yet of Kenya's intentions. Initially the East African nation said it was pursuing Somali gunmen who have attacked and abducted foreigners from Kenyan territory. Two Spanish aid workers, a cancer-stricken quadriplegic Frenchwoman and an Englishwoman have all been seized in the past six weeks.
But analysts say such a complex operation in Somalia would have taken Kenya far longer to plan, and was sparked by Kenyan fears about instability from Somalia spilling over the border. On Thursday, Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki confirmed that there would be an internal crackdown against suspected al-Shabab operatives.
"Our security forces have begun operations within and outside of our borders against militants who have sought to destabilize our country," he said.
Some Muslim and Kenyan-Somali leaders have said they fear their communities may be unfairly targeted.
Secret SAS squadron sent to spy in Africa
Rafael Epstein and Dylan Welch
March 13, 2012
A secret squadron of Australian SAS soldiers has been operating at large in Africa, performing work normally done by spies, in an unannounced and possibly dangerous expansion of Australia's foreign military engagement.
The deployment of the SAS's 4 Squadron - the existence of which has never been publicly confirmed - has put the special forces unit at the outer reaches of Australian and international law.
The Age has confirmed that troopers from the squadron have mounted dozens of secret operations over the past year in African nations including Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Kenya.
They have been out of uniform and not accompanied by Australian Secret Intelligence Service officers with whom undercover SAS forces are conventionally deployed.
It is believed the missions have involved gathering intelligence on terrorism and scoping rescue strategies for Australian civilians trapped by kidnapping or civil war.
But the operations have raised serious concerns within the Australian military and intelligence community because they involve countries where Australia is not at war.
There are also concerns within the SAS that the troopers do not have adequate legal protection or contingency plans if they are captured. ''They have all the espionage skills but without [ASIS's] legal cover,'' said one government source.
In a comment relayed to government officials, one soldier said: ''What happens if we get caught?''
Australian National University professor Hugh White, a former deputy secretary of Defence, said: ''Such an operation deprives the soldier of a whole lot of protections, including their legal status and, in a sense, their identity as a soldier. I think governments should think extremely carefully before they ask soldiers to do that.''
Despite the dangers, then foreign minister Kevin Rudd last year asked for troopers from 4 Squadron to be used in Libya during that country's conflict. His plan was thwarted by opposition from Defence Minister Stephen Smith and chief of the Defence Force General David Hurley.
Both Mr Smith and General Hurley declined to be interviewed about this story.
SAS 4 Squadron is based at Swan Island, near Queenscliff, a high-security defence facility that has doubled in size over the past decade, in part to accommodate the new squadron.
The squadron was formally raised in 2005 by the Howard government, but The Age has learnt that its new intelligence-focused role was authorised in late 2010 or early last year by Mr Smith.
The SAS is also at the forefront of gender reform in the Australian military, with six female soldiers being trained in the United States for their work with 4 Squadron.
Collecting intelligence overseas without using violence is the main function of ASIS, which was created in 1952 but not officially acknowledged until 1977.
Since the mid-1980s, ASIS officers have been refused permission to carry weapons or use violence, but in 2004 the Howard government amended legislation to allow them to have weapons for self-defence and to participate in violent operations provided the officers themselves do not use force.
It was around that time that the creation of the fourth SAS squadron was authorised, with its soldiers expected to be an elite version of bodyguards and scouts for ASIS intelligence officers.
The African operations by 4 Squadron initially centred on possible rescue scenarios for endangered Australian citizens, such as freelance journalist Nigel Brennan, who was held by Somali rebels.
The soldiers have also assessed African border controls, explored landing sites for possible military interventions and developed scenarios for evacuating Australians, as well as assessing local politics. ASIS officers are legally permitted to carry false Australian passports and, if arrested, can deny who they are employed by. ADF members on normal operations cannot carry false identification and cannot deny which government they work for.
While the SAS has worked alongside Australia's intelligence agencies for decades, the creation of a dedicated squadron mirrors the US model, where the military and the intelligence services have closer links.
That relationship has resulted in the growing importance of the US Joint Special Operations Command, whose soldiers killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan last year.
Some staff within the ADF's special operations command see 4 Squadron detracting from what they believe is the main effort - the war in Afghanistan and the counterterrorism teams on the east and west coasts of Australia, manned by soldiers from the 2nd Commando Regiment and the SAS respectively. But others argue it is vital to Australia's contribution to the American fight against al-Qaeda - particularly in the Horn of Africa. US intelligence believes many second-tier al-Qaeda fighters and leaders from the Afghanistan and Pakistan region have fled there.
The intelligence gathered by the Australian soldiers in countries such as Kenya all flows into databases used by the US and its allies in Africa.
Australia's security service ASIO is also increasingly concerned by the domestic threat posed by Somalia-based terror group al-Shabaab. ASIO holds concerns that a small group within Australia's growing Somali community is sending money to al-Shabaab.
The MI6-Al-Shabaab Connection
By T.J. Coles.
Axis of Logic
Wednesday, Jul 4, 2012
British security analysts fear that the militant Islamic Somali group Al-Shabaab, which has admitted to carrying out acts of terrorism, may attack the London Olympic Games. The military and its secret services count on the media to “set the agenda” (Chatham House)1 and to “shape perceptions” (Ministry of Defence).2 It is not surprising, then, that the government’s terrorism claims are repeated uncritically by the media, which specialise in “white propaganda” (an official term for establishment messages).3
Al-Shabaab foreign forces are recruited and trained by MI5 agents.
In reality, Al-Shabaab was infiltrated by old MI6 assets long ago, and its foreign forces are recruited and trained by MI5 agents (see below). If there is an attack on the Olympic Games carried out by Al-Shabaab, it will almost certainly be a false-flag designed to propel a war-weary public into supporting yet more bloodshed in the Pentagon’s quest for Full Spectrum Dominance.4 With one million Somalis dependent on Red Cross food aid (and not by accident), a British-led invasion could lead to mass starvation.
Shell and BP have long-standing oil contracts in Somalia, which the country’s socialist Islamic Courts Union jeopardised by permitting Chinese and Russian prospecting.5 A Chatham House study sponsored by BP recommended that because “Voters will not actively call for a more effective foreign policy,” the unelected Tory-Liberal government “should define its international mission as managing risks on behalf of British citizens.”6
The review laid the basis for the national security and strategic defence reviews, which named Somalia and adjacent Yemen, as “threats” to Britain’s “security.”7 In reality, Britain has been a major threat to Somalia and Yemen since the days of Empire, killing 200,000 Yemenis in the 1962-1970 war.8 If you want to know the military-industrial-complex’s real interest in Somalia and Yemen, look at a map. No amount of propaganda (except perhaps major cartographical revisions) can disguise the fact that 16,000 trade ships a year pass through the Gulf of Aden on their way to Europe and the US.9 Counterterrorism is a necessary pretext for militarising the zone.
The Red Cross warned that nearly one million Somalis are dependent upon aid.10 The foundations of the crisis were laid in 2006, when the Ethiopia-based Transitional Federal Government (TFG)—financed, armed, and trained by British special forces—invaded Somalia to depose the Islamic Courts Union. The TFG’s interior minister, Guled Ghamadeere, held up World Food Program (WFP)-delivered aid. The WFP refused to act because it was being used to funnel Department for International Development money (given by the British taxpayer) to the TFG.11
The mass-murder, rape, looting, and torture inflicted by the TFG sparked a refugee crisis in which one million Somalis fled Mogadishu. Hundreds of thousands of Somali and Ethiopian “boat people” flee across the Gulf of Aden each year to seek refuge in Yemen,12 where the British-trained and armed security services murdered demonstrators during the Arab Spring.13 A quarter of a million Somalis also live in dire conditions in Kenyan camps, where the British-trained and armed Kenyan forces rape and extort the women. Other refugees live on the Somalia-Ethiopia border.14
The dire situation put 4 million Somalis on the brink of starvation in a “famine caused by men, not by global warming,” in the words of the only journalist in Britain to cover the story (Aden Hartley). The US Congress described the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) as a non-violent, non-extremist socialist government which achieved poverty reduction. A Chatham House paper noted the ICU’s near-total eradication of piracy.15 But a stable, socialist government which allowed Russia and China to prospect for oil was not to be tolerated by Britain.
Al-Shabaab spokesman, Sheikh Rageh
The TFG finally dismantled the ICU in the three-year war. From the wreckage emerged Al-Shabaab, the armed, militant wing of the ICU. In contrast to its predecessor, Al-Shabaab is an extremist organisation which has committed human rights violations—though nothing on the scale of the British-created TFG.16 Ugandans, whose military forces are part of the international occupation of Somalia, paid a bitter price in 2010, when Al-Shabaab committed its first external act of terrorism, targeting a soccer World Cup game. The act was confirmed by Al-Shabaab spokesman, Sheikh Rageh.17 What was not reported, however, is that Rageh’s superior, Ahmed Abdi Godane, has CIA-MI6 links:
THE SHABAAB-MI6 CONNECTION
In June 2011, the head of UK Counterterrorism, Campbell McCafferty, testified to a committee that “There has not been any evidence of a link between the [Somali] pirates and al-Shabab.” However, such a “link to terrorism would change entirely the international community’s view … I think people are looking hard for those links.”18 The inference being that if terrorism doesn’t exist, it has to be invented.
A few months later, People newspaper reported “fears that al-Shabaab will attempt to strike at the [London Olympic] Games, as well as growing concern over piracy and kidnappings.” Providing no evidence, the author Nick Dorman said that “Fanatics from the [Shabaab] group were responsible for 21/7, the botched plot to set off bombs in London in 2005.”19 There is just one slight problem with this analysis: Al-Shabaab didn’t even exist in 2005. Congressional sources trace its origins to 2007.20
MI5 Chief Jonathan Evans
Dorman’s article ended with a quote from a Ministry of Defence official who claimed that Somalia may be next in line for British occupation. This was followed by an unprecedented statement from MI5 chief Jonathan Evans, that “Somalia has become the next destination after Pakistan for terrorist training due to the presence of al-Shabaab, an extremist group with links to al-Qa’ida.”21 According to the late British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, “al-Qaeda” is a CIA term used by the agency to describe “the computer data-base” of fighters that it—together with MI6 and the SAS—funded, armed, and trained in 197922 in order “to draw the Russians into the Afghan trap,” as Jimmy Carter’s then-National Security Advisor explained.23
Haroon Rashid Aswat
Parliamentary documents reveal that MI6 “mobilised” the terrorist group Al-Muhajiroun in the 1990s in order to fight in Kosovo.24 FBI agent and former prosecutor John Loftus, speaking on behalf of the FBI, revealed that the British extremist Haroon Rashid Aswat is an MI6 double-agent, and that through Al-Muhajiroun has recruited fighters for Somalia from the UK. Far from being “Al-Shabaab” that tried to commit terrorism on 21/7, it was actually Aswat who was behind the 7/7 and 21/7 attacks, Loftus said.25 It should be noted, however, that most British Somalis do not support Al-Shabaab, “al-Qaeda”, or terrorism.26
Abu Qatada, MI5-MI6 Agent in a safe house in England cared for by British Intel Services.
Abu Qatada, whom the Daily Mail describes as “Bin Laden’s right-hand man in Britain,”27 is another MI5-MI6 agent, which explains the reason for his slow extradition. According to a Time Magazine article from 2002, “senior European intelligence officials tell TIME that Abu Qatada is tucked away in a safe house in the north of England, where he and his family are being lodged, fed and clothed by British intelligence services.”28
MI5 double-agent Reda Hassaine stated: “I saw Qatada brainwash young Muslims, living in Britain from Africa, Somalia, Sudan, Morocco and my own country of Algeria.”29 On Al-Shabaab, the Guardian reported that “Britons are believed to make up about a quarter of the 200 or so of its foreign fighters, according to the Royal United Services Institute.”30
It is surely no coincidence that Somalia and Sudan are now listed as the most dangerous places in the world by the Maplecroft Terrorism index?31 After Somalia’s first mosque bombing in 2010, many Somalis suspected foreign involvement.32 It was later revealed that SAS killers had been in Somalia for many years assisting the TFG and the Puntland police force.33
Ahmed Abdi Godane, Al-Shabaab Leader
One of Al-Shabaab’s leaders is Ahmed Abdi Godane (also known as Abu Zubayr). Godane joined Al-Itihad al Islamiya (AIAI) in the 1990s. According to the US State Department, AIAI “was an Islamist militant group founded by Somali Salafis in the 1980s. Many of its fighters trained with al Qaeda in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation, and returned to Somalia after the war.”34 The US State Department defines “al-Qaeda” as: “Established by Usama Bin Ladin in the late 1980s to bring together Arabs who fought in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union.”35 In other words, its own creation.
The MI5-MI6-Al-Shabaab links appear to cross “virtual” barriers. Al-Shabaab's website alqimmah.net reaches Somalis from its registered base in Sweden. It has posted anti-negotiation statements, written under religious pretexts, in order to encourage Al-Shabaab members to dismiss peace settlements, such as the Djibouti Round (2009). The website also schools young recruits in bomb-making and even attempts to incite Kenyan Muslims. The website is run by Musa Said Yusuf Godir, who in 2008, was arrested in London with his colleague Ahmed Said Mohamed Faarax-Deeq, who runs other Al-Shabaab-affiliated websites. They were charged with terrorism offences.
However, “Both men were subsequently cleared of the charges and released,” the UN reported. “On the night of 28 July 2009, participants in an Al-Shabaab online forum celebrated the release of Faarax-Deeq,” the agency added, concluding: “On 9 August 2009, a group of Somalis … hosted a reception for Faarax-Deeq and Godir in Leicester [UK],”36 all under the nose of MI5.
READ MORE ANALYSES & ESSAYS BY
T.J. COLES, AXIS OF LOGIC COLUMNIST
Chatham House, “Are our media threatening the public good?” February, 2010, London: Institute for Government
Ministry of Defence, “The Strategic Trends Programme: Out to 2040”, London: MoD
See, for instance, Stephen Dorril, 2000, MI6, London: The Fourth Estate
US Space Command, “Vision for 2020,” February, 1997
Senlis Council, “Chronic Failures in the War on Terror”, 2009
Alex Evans and David Steven, “Organizing for Influence”, June, 2010, Chatham House
Cabinet Office, “A Strong Britain in an Age of Uncertainty: The National Security Strategy”, October, 2010, and Cabinet Office, “Securing Britain in an Age of Uncertainty: The Strategic Defence and Security Review”, October, 2010
For the shocking details, see Mark Curtis, 2003, Web of Deceit, London: Vintage and Stephen Dorril, MI6
Roger Middleton, “Piracy in Somalia: Threatening global trade, feeding local wars”, Africa Programme, October, 2008, Chatham House Briefing Paper, AFP BP 08/02
Red Cross, “Somalia: food aid distributed to over 900,000 people”, No 11/04 16, December, 2011
See my, "Somalia Still Suffers", Z Magazine, July-August, 2010
See my, “Somalia: 'A famine caused by men, not global warming” Axis of Logic, 27 November, 2011
House of Commons, “Yemen: Military Aid”, 30 November, 2011, Column 919W
See my, “Somalia: 'A famine caused by men, not global warming'.”, Axis of Logic, 27 November, 2011
See my, "Somalia Still Suffers", Z Magazine, July-August, 2010
Human Rights Watch, “Harsh War, Harsh Peace: Abuses by al-Shabaab, the Transitional Federal Government, and AMISOM in Somalia”, April, 2010, London: HRW
Al-Jazeera, “Al-Shabab claims Uganda bombings,” 13 July, 2010
Campbell McCafferty, “Piracy off the coast of Somalia”, Foreign Affairs Committee, 29 June, 2011
Nick Dorman, “2012 Terror Threat - Al Quada [sic] Offshoot Targeted In Somalia”, 6 November, 2011, The People
Ted Dagne, “Somalia: Current Conditions and Prospects for a Lasting Peace,” Congressional Research Service, Order Code RL33911, 12 March, 2007, pp.9-15
Kim Sengupta, “Britain's new year resolution: intervene in Somalia”, Independent, 22 December, 2011
Robin Cook, “The struggle against terrorism cannot be won by military means”, The Guardian, 8 July 2005
Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, “Zbigniew Brzezinski: How Jimmy Carter and I Started the Mujahideen”, 15 January, 1998
Supplementary memorandum from Institute for Policy Research & Development (PVE 19A), undated
Loftus interviewed on Fox News
Ted Dagne, “Somalia: Current Conditions and Prospects for a Lasting Peace”, Congressional Research Service, Order Code RL33911, 12 March, 2007, pp.9-15
Sue Reid, “The brave agent who exposed Hamza only to be betrayed by MI5”, Daily Mail, 10 April, 2012
Bruce Crumley, “Sheltering a Puppet Master?”, Time, 7 July, 2002
Sue Reid, “The brave agent who exposed Hamza only to be betrayed by MI5”, Daily Mail, 10 April, 2012
Sandra Laville, “Unpredictable ‘lone wolves’ pose biggest Olympic security threat,” Guardian, 9 March, 2012
Maplecroft, “Newly formed South Sudan joins Somalia, Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan at top of Maplecroft terrorism ranking – attacks up 15% globally”, 3 August, 2011
See my "Somalia Still Suffers," Z Magazine, July-August, 2010
Jason Lewis, “Secret SAS mission to Somalia uncovers British terror cells”, Daily Mail, 23 June, 2007
Nathaniel Horadam, “Profile: Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys,” Critical Threats, 14 November, 2011, footnote 6
Department of State (US), “Background Information on Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations Contents” Appendix B, no date
United Nations Security Council, “Letter dated 10 March 2010 from the Chairman of the Security Council Committee pursuant to resolutions 751 (1992) and 1907 (2009) concerning Somalia and Eritrea addressed to the President of the Security Council”, S/2010/91, 10 March, 2010
The MI6-Al-Shabaab Connection | Critical Analysis |Axisoflogic.com
Neutral Citation Number:  EWHC 2837 (Admin)
Case No: PTA/01/2011
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
Royal Courts of Justice
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
19th October 2012
B e f o r e :
LORD JUSTICE LLOYD JONES
SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT
- and -
CC and CF
James Eadie QC, Andrew O'Connor and Louise Jones (instructed by the Treasury Solicitor) for the Applicant
Timothy Otty QC and Dan Squires (instructed by Birnberg Peirce) for CC
Danny Friedman and Tom Hickman (instructed by Irvine Thanvi Natas) for CF
Hugo Keith QC, Zubair Ahmad and Shaheen Rahman (instructed by the Special Advocates' Support Office) as Special Advocates for CC and CF
Hearing dates: 9th, 10th, 16th-20th, 24th-26th July 2012.
III. NATIONAL SECURITY CASE AGAINST CC.
Involvement in terrorism-related activity.
#33 On behalf of CC it is submitted that the decisions of the Secretary of State to make a control order and a TPIM in respect of CC were flawed in that she had no reasonable grounds for suspecting or believing (respectively) that he had been involved in terrorism-related activity.
#34 The Security Service assesses that CC is linked to a group of six British nationals who received terrorist training from Al Qaida operatives, Saleh Nabhan and Harun Fazul in Somalia in 2006. It assesses that the group returned to the United Kingdom in late 2006 and early 2007 and has evolved into a well-established and prolific extremist facilitation network, actively supporting extremist associates in East Africa. The network consists of a UK-based group and an East Africa-based group. The UK-based group supports the activities of the associates in Somalia and also seeks to recruit and radicalise further individuals. The UK-based group maintains contact with the East Africa-based group to co-ordinate the transfer of money, equipment and individuals to Somalia.
#35 For the reasons set out in my closed judgment in this matter, I have come to the clear conclusion that the Secretary of State had and has reasonable grounds for suspecting or believing (respectively) that CC has been involved in terrorism-related activity. In particular, the evidence before the Secretary of State supports that conclusion in the following respects:
(1) CC is closely linked to the network described above.
(2) CC travelled to Somalia where he received terrorist training in 2008 from experienced Al-Shabaab operatives. CC attended a terrorist training camp in Kamsuma, Southern Somalia, from 2008 onwards in preparation for fighting along side Al-Shabaab.
(3) CC fought on the front line in Somalia in support of Al-Shabaab.
(4) CC facilitated the travel of several individuals from the United Kingdom to Somalia to enable them to take part in terrorism-related activity. He was involved in facilitating the attempted travel of Mohammed Aden (September 2008) Mustafa Ferole (June 2009) and the travel of Mohammed Sharif Nur to a training camp (August 2009).
(5) CC facilitated the support of the UK-based network for terrorism- related activity in Somalia. The network, which includes Ibrahim Magag and Jama Hersi, has had access to money, false passports and documentation, as well as equipment. CC was involved in procuring funds for terrorism-related activity.
(6) Between 2008 and late 2010 CC was engaged in procuring weapons for use in furthering his terrorism-related activity, including fighting and attack plans.
(7) CC played a role in planning attacks in Somalia and overseas. CC was involved in an attack plan with Saeed Mohamed and Mohammed Ali Sharif Nur intended for the Juba Hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia in August 2010 and he was willing to participate in a terrorist attack.
(8) Shortly before his arrest CC was involved in attack-planning with Hersi. These plans were potentially intended for western interests in Somaliland.
#36 CC has failed to deal in his witness statements with the allegations against him, other than to deny them and to claim that he has been the victim of false allegations about his purpose in travelling to Somaliland, and he has not given evidence. Rather, his response has been limited to the submission made by his counsel that "a host of the most serious allegations against him must be immediately set aside as either having been the subject of inadequate disclosure or because put no higher than allegations of possible – rather than reasonably believed – conduct." (Closing Submissions paragraph 76.) Disclosure in this case has been exhaustively considered in a series of interlocutory hearings, including one before me. There has been no appeal against the decisions made in those hearings. I have kept disclosure under review throughout the substantive hearing and I am satisfied that CC's complaint of inadequate disclosure is totally lacking in substance. The appropriate disclosure has been made so as to permit CC to respond.
#37 The Secretary of State has made clear that she no longer relies on the Somaliland interviews of CC. The Schedule 7 interviews of CC have been held to be ultra vires. (R (CC) v. Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis  EWHC 3316 (Admin).) In the course of the hearing it was suggested that the Schedule 7 interviews were not admissible in these proceedings. However, this point was never fully developed. As a result, in my evaluation of the evidence I have excluded from consideration the Somaliland interviews and the Schedule 7 interviews. Furthermore, I am satisfied that, if the Secretary of State had approached the matter on this basis, the weight of the other evidence is such that she would inevitably have come to the same conclusion.
#38 For the reasons set out in my closed judgment I consider that the Secretary of State was entitled to conclude on the basis of the evidence before her that each of these allegations was made out to the required standard. I consider that the Secretary of State had reasonable grounds for suspecting and believing that CC has been involved in terrorism-related activity. Indeed, I consider that the national security case against CC is overwhelming.
IV. NATIONAL SECURITY CASE AGAINST CF
#45 On behalf of CF it is submitted that the Secretary of State's decisions to make a control order and a TPIM in respect of CF were flawed in that she had no reasonable grounds for suspecting or believing (respectively) that he has been involved in terrorism-related activity.
#46 The Security Service assesses that CF was also linked to the group of six British nationals with which CC was associated and which has evolved into an extremist facilitation network.
#47 For the reasons set out in my closed judgment, I have come to the clear conclusion that the Secretary of State had and has reasonable grounds for suspecting or believing (respectively) that CF has been involved in terrorism-related activity. In particular, the evidence before the Secretary of State supports that conclusion in the following respects:
(1) In 2008 CF attempted to travel to Afghanistan to fight "Jihad" and engage in suicide operations. This attempted travel was with an associate Mohammed Abushamma who is also assessed to be an Islamist extremist. Whilst CF was acquitted (following his absconding from bail) at a criminal trial where he was charged with offences contrary to section 5(1)(a) of the Terrorism Act 2006 arising out of his attempted travel in 2008, there is clear evidence that CF had sought to travel to Afghanistan for terrorism-related activity.
(2) CF undertook terrorist training in Somalia after June 2009, having travelled to Somalia for Islamist extremist reasons in June 2009, following his absconding from bail during the criminal trial in the United Kingdom. CF attended a terrorist training camp in Somalia and was involved in fighting alongside Al-Shabaab.
(3) CF provided advice on travelling to Somalia to others and attempted to recruit fighters in the United Kingdom for fighting overseas, including wanting to assist Hisham Kelifa's travel to Somalia in 2010 for terrorism-related activity.
(4) CF was engaged in fund-raising activities for Al-Shabaab.
(5) CF was potentially involved in attack planning when, shortly before his arrest, he was involved with CC and Jama Hersi's attack plans to target Western interests in Somaliland.
#48 CF's counsel informed the Court at the start of the substantive hearing that CF was undecided as to whether to give oral evidence. In the event, he decided not to do so. In his fourth witness statement, produced during the hearing, CF explained that having given this decision very careful thought leading up to the hearing and having listened to the hearing for the first two days, he felt that it was too difficult for him to give evidence. He stated that he finds it very difficult to talk about the past events, particularly the situation in relation to Somaliland, in relation to the control order and TPIM and in relation to his family. He stated that he is suffering from stress and is paranoid. He stated that he suffers from pericarditis, a viral heart condition. He had concluded that he could not put himself through giving evidence. However, I consider that there was no satisfactory explanation for CF's failure to give oral evidence.
#49 Furthermore, I accept the submission of the Secretary of State that it is plain that CF has lied in the course of these proceedings. Mr O'Connor draws attention to the following matters:
(1) Having previously denied that he had had any contact with his family in the whole time that he was in Somalia (Second witness statement of CF, paragraph 16), he now states that he did have contact with a limited number of members of his family on around four or five occasions (Third witness statement of CF, paragraphs 2-3).
(2) In his first witness statement CF stated that he had not seen Nur since before he left the United Kingdom in 2008 and, quite possibly 2007 (First witness statement of CF, paragraph 253). However, in his third witness statement CF states that he did see Nur in the neighbourhood occasionally and he thinks that he played football with him (Third witness statement of CF, paragraph 10).
I also consider that he has lied in respect of certain other matters addressed in my closed judgment. I accept the submission on behalf of the Secretary of State that these lies have an important bearing on the credibility of CF.
#50 In summary, it is submitted on behalf of CF as follows:
(1) The assessment in relation to what the Security Service assesses to be CF's attempt to travel to Afghanistan in 2008, even if made out to the required standard, in itself would not come close to justifying a control order or a TPIM.
(2) There is nothing in the Afghanistan allegations to link CF to the network.
(3) The Somaliland assessment is in its own terms insufficient to meet the statutory tests and it is based on unreliable and inadmissible evidence (i.e. the Somaliland interrogations and the Schedule 7 interviews) as well as ignoring evidence of CF's character and his account of his activities in Somalia.
(4) The allegations relating to attempting to assist the travel of his sisters and Hisham Kelifa to Somalia are insufficient to constitute terrorism-related activity.
(5) There has been inadequate disclosure.