al Qaeda in Somalia
Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Sheik Yusuf Indohaadde during a news briefing, Saturday, June 17, 2006. AP photograph, click to view.
Just days after Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, the chairman of Somalia's Islamic Courts Union attempted to distance his movement from Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, a senior member of the ICU has appearaed on a video with foreign Arab fighters engaging in combat with Somali clans of the
During a recent press conference with Sheikh Ahmed, Sheikh Yusuf Indohaadde denied involvement with al Qaeda and other foreign Islamists. "We want to say in a loud voice that we have no enemies, we have not enmity toward anyone," said Indohaadde on June 20, "There are no foreign terrorists here... tell us exactly where these men are in Somalia."
Sheikh Yusuf Indohaadde clearly knows where the "foreign terrorists" are located in Somalia. He is seen on a propaganda tape with them; a tape which was produced for both Somali and Arab audiences. The Associated Press has a copy of the video and provides a summary, excerpted below:
But the video, shot on a hand held recorder, shows Arab fighters preparing for a major battle on the northern outskirts of Mogadishu. Arabic anthems and poetry play on the audio track urging Muslims to join the global holy war to advance Islam and defeat its enemies.
The video starts with a black flag featuring a Quranic verse and a saber fluttering in the wind... After a few minutes of battle footage, the tape documents the Arab fighters' predawn preparations for battle, including prayers, a commander's speech to his troops and the preparation of weapons. The Arab fighters then climb onto two pickup trucks mounted with heavy machine guns, which the Somalis call "technicals."
As the sun rises, the location of the Arab camp north of Mogadishu becomes clear and six more trucks loaded with Somali fighters come into view. A senior member of the Islamic group, Yusuf Indohaadde, is filmed walking among the men before the pickups roll out of an old warehouse compound...
Most of the tape's audio is filled with Arabic prose and songs urging Muslims to join the holy war against the West, or recordings of speeches given by Somali Islamic extremists. One of the voices speaking Somali is clearly not a native speaker.
There are also subtitles in Arabic and Somali calling the battle part of "the sacred, holy jihad in Somalia" and "the holy war that began in Somalia." The tape is similar to other videos produced by Islamic extremists in Iraq and other countries where al-Qaida is active.
In 2002, 17 terrorist training camps were identified throughout Somalia, and al Qaeda's involvement were known to the U.S. defense, intelligence and diplomatic corps. Representatives from the Defense Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, the Department of State and Major General Geoffrey C. Lambert, at the time the commanding general of the U.S. Army Special Forces Command, were briefed on an intelligence contact report concerning the state of affairs in Somalia.
The recommendations of the intelligence contact report included deploying Special Forces teams to track and identify al Qaeda members, with the support of willing Somalia clans, much like the operations against the Taliban in Afghanistan at the onset of Operation Enduring freedom; deploying humanitarian assistance teams; and dispensing humanitarian aid. The report was ignored, and al Qaeda was able to build vital infrastructure over the course of four years, which lead to the rise of power of the Islamic Courts.
A recent article in the Washington Post intimates the rise of the Islamic Courts was fueled by U.S. backing of the warlords opposed to the Islamists. The fact is Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, the leader of the Islamic Courts, has planned to take over Somalia for well over a year, and built his infrastructure, with direct al Qaeda support and manpower, to achieve this goal. The U.S. efforts to back the warlords of the anti-Islamic Courts group known as Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counterterrorism in early 2006 were too little and too late.