Islamic Courts on the Offensive
Two more Ethiopian armored vehicles destroyed, ICU engages TFG outside Baidoa, captured border town
The Islamic Courts Union, al Qaeda's proxy organization in Somalia, is on the offensive against the Transitional Federal Government and supporting Ethiopian Army units. Over the weekend, ICU forces ambushed an Ethiopian column heading to Baidoa, the government seat of the TFG, and destroyed two Ethiopian armored vehicles. The attack was followed up by small arms fire. Six Ethiopian troops were killed and over 20 wounded. This attack was confirmed by Shabelle through sources in the Ethiopian Defense Ministry. As we noted yesterday, the ambush against a professional military displays a level of sophistication beyond that of a mere 'militia.'
ICU forces have attacked the Ethiopian military yet again, destroying another armored car and damaging another. "'For the second day residents in Kansah Omane against the enemy of Ethiopians in their country blew up one armored vehicle, riddling another with bullets and number of Ethiopian soldiers was killed during the skirmishes', [Muktar Robow Abu-Mansor, the Union of Islamic Courts assistant security chief ] said, urging residents to kill and fight with Ethiopians passing through their areas," reports Shabelle.
While striking at the extended Ethiopian supply lines, the Islamic Courts has moved against the TFG and Ethiopian forces outside Baidoa. "Fresh clashes between the Somali government forces accompanied by the Ethiopian troops and pro-Islamist fighters have reportedly occurred in Edale environs in Bai province, southern Somalia," reports Shabelle. "Unconfirmed reports indicate that there were heavy casualties on both sides."
The Islamic Courts, "accompanied by two trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns" have moved on Abudwaq, a town on the Ethiopian border. With a poor strategic positioning in central Somalia accompanied by the Islamic Courts deadly weapons and training from al Qaeda, Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, the Ethiopians are in for some surprises.
Meanwhile, the government of Puntland has provided an opening for the Islamic Courts to infiltrate the legal system and government by implementing sharia law via presidential decree."I set up a committee of scholars and traditional leaders to implement sharia law," said Puntland President Gen. Addeh Museh. "Puntland usually enforces a secular penal code, even though the region's charter says it is based on sharia law," notes Banadir. The Puntland government is attempting to accomdate the Islamic Courts.
The Islamic Courts wastes no time enforcing sharia in its own territory. Yesterday we noted that Tobacco and khat have been banned, and a wine factory was shut down. The ICU continues to shut down movie theaters and persecute moviegoers. In the town of Merca, over 100 people, including women and children, were arrested at a local cinema. The ICU is also interested in disarming the local populations of Somalia. Openly carrying firearms is now illegal in Kismayo. This occurred after the ICU opened fire on crowds protesting the burning of khat in the city, killing a teanage boy and wounded many more.
The Islamic Courts are implementing sharia at a speed that would make the Taliban proud. The Taliban waited several years to consolidate power before implementing the more draconian rules. The Islamic Courts sees no such need to wait.