Somalia’s Islamist Courts regroup

The insurgency is taking shape, Sharif Ahmed is released, a new Islamic Courts video, and financing in Saudi Arabia established

ICU fighters in propaganda video. Click photo to view.

The Ethiopian and Somalia government’s rout of the Islamic Courts last December has been quickly countered by the Islamists with a deadly insurgency. In the latest violence in Mogadishu, an Islamist mortar attack killed 7 and wounded 20. A police colonel was murdered just south of the capital. The latest attacks follow a string of attacks on Somalia and Ethiopian military and police units. Roadside bombs have also been employed in several instances.

In an incomprehensible move, the Kenyan government has released Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, one of the top leaders of the Islamic Courts. Sharif has headed to Yemen, and has been touting reconcilliation between the Islamist and the Somali government. “The U.S. and I have had dialog over how to introduce peace into Somalia. We have agreed on many issues and we still have something left,” said Sharif, in an interview with Shabelle Radio.

“The US government considers Mr. Ahmed as a moderate Islamist, who can play a great role in soothing the tense situation and rebellion in the country, the capital in particular,” Shabelle also notes. The U.S. State Department has pushed for the release of Sharif and for incorporating the Islamists into the Somali government.

I am outraged of the behavior of [the U.S. Ambassador] to Kenya. More than 3000 Somalis died because of Sheikh Sharif and ICU,” said Ali Abdiweli, a professor at Niagra University who is in contact with the Somali government. “[Sharif] should be put on trial. Here we go again saying that he is moderate…. This is nonsense and there is no way that Sheikh Sharif will accept any secular government. Actually, the behavior of the Ambassador will encourage the remnants of the Islamic Courts.”

In discussions with several U.S. military and intelligence sources, they have echoed Ali Abdiweli’s assessment of Sharif’s deep ties to radical Islam in Somalia and al Qaeda. The U.S. State Department advocates promoting Sharif as a moderate, despite all evidence to the contrary.

The Islamic Courts have released a new videotape promising a continued insurgency. Nick Grace of Global Crisis Watch provides a summary of the video [which can be seen at this link. Video is 13:29 minutes long, 21.33 Megabytes in WMV format]:

ICU banner from recent propaganda video. Click photo to view.

The video consists of a two-page speech in Somali. The final two minutes they display a handmade ICU banner that someone had drawn with colored crayons on cardstock. The six masked gunmen are standing outside and appear to be in front of the back of a building. Nasheeds are played from a stereo system that is off-camera. There is a technical error towards the end of the speech when someone turns the volume down and then turns it back up. The production quality is very poor and mirrors the production values and techniques used in the Nov 30 ICU/AQ video. I have not seen it on the Arab al Qaeda forums and although that doesn’t mean that it isn’t there, I am surprised, because Somalia jihad videos are extremely popular and in demand. This is one of the worst al Qaeda videos in recent years.

As the Islamist insurgency makes headway and Sharif is freed, other Islamic Courts leaders have fled the country. Reports indicate the Islamic Courts leaders have fled to Saudi Arabia, Eritrea and Yemen, and a U.S. intelligence official tells us this is accurate.

Ali Abdiweli informs us that Islamic Courts military leaders Sheik Yusuf Indohaadde and Abu Mansoor have gone to Saudi Arabia to seek funding. “Abu Mansoor and Sheikh Indhadde are also in Saudi Arabia espousing violence with the full knowledge of the Saudi government,” “We never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”

An American intelligence official informs us the Saudi ‘Golden Chain’ of al Qaeda financiers has funded the Islamic Courts to the tune of $200 million since last spring. Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, Osama bin Laden’s brother-in-law and planner, facilitator and financier for al Qaeda, who was killed in Madagascar by Task Force 145, was in Africa to provide funding to the Islamic Courts, according to a U.S. intelligence official.

The Saudi government has arrested 10 of its citizens for “carrying out illegal activities including collecting donations illegally … and sending them to suspected parties,” according to Mansour al-Turki, the Interior Ministry spokesman. Those arrested are accused of “dragging the sons of st Courts regroups

the nation to disturbed places. Seven of those arrested were captured “in the Western port city of Jeddah” while holding a meeting. While there is no indication those detained were supporting the Islamic Courts, the timing in curious.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of The Long War Journal.

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6 Comments

  • Neo-andertal says:

    It’s not surprising to see the Islamic Courts regroup. They do have a good deal of support among a number of tribes in Somalia. The fact that many of the foreign facilitators are being let go is frustrating. Kenya obviously wants no part of this fight. If they are lucky they may well get their wish. I realize that there is a sizable Somalian refugee population among the mixed Arab population along the Kenyan coast. Thus far the Islamists have made only limited inroads. With the setback in Somalia for the Islamic Courts it becomes a lot less likely that there is any large scale political trouble from Kenya’s Muslim population. For now the Islamists will have there hands full reestablishing themselves in Somalia. Any further projection of their movement into Africa will have to wait a few years at least.
    We are now back to square one as far as Somalia is concerned. The good part is that an expanding regional war has been averted for now. It will take the Islamic Courts years to recover their position to where it was just two months ago. I wouldn’t be too gloomy. If this is half a victory in Somalia, I’d take a few more just like it in other places.
    That being said, I don’t see how any regional power can stabilize South Central Somalia at this point. The Ethiopians will wear out there welcome by summer. They will have to fall back closer to the boarder. Any African force might be more realistically used to control villages along the Kenyan boarder in lower Juba province as far north as Kismayu. Mogadishu and the south central area is a trap for anyone who tries to control it long term. Arm and train those who want to resist the Islamic Courts but don’t count on any international presence in the area long term.

  • Drazen Gemic says:

    I think that we all have wrong ideas about insurgency. Insurgency is not something that has the beginning and the end. There is a constant state of insurgency somewhere around the globe. Even if some movement is defeated, it is likely that next generation will develop another around the same ideas.
    I don’t find usefull efforts to understand the reasons and the origin of insurgency. Whenever there is a group of people that has no hope of imposing their views to the others through political process, there is a possibility of insurgency. They would typically justify their activites by proclaiming democratic institutions as “weak” or “corrupted”. There is no logic in insurgency, it is like rain, storm, drought. There is no point in discussion about are they “right” or “wrong”.
    We must learn how to deal with those people succesusfully by using deadly force instead. We must learn from countries like India, Columbia or Israel.
    We have to adjust our technology, legal system, security forces, in fact we must learn how to live normal life, still being able to combat terrorists. We have to develop skills and experts who can deal with it, but the ordinary people must learn to live with it, too. We must learn to accept the conditions that are neither peace nor war as normal.
    DG

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    In the US, we had an actor named Henry Fonda.
    He was about as Pro-American as they came. He made more than his fair share of Patriot War movies.
    We also have the actors daughter. Jane Fonda. More affectionately known as Hanoi Jane and his son “Peter Fonda”, most famous for a movie extolling the vitues of a life of Drugs and Whoring.
    In any case, the Phenomenon of “Poor Little Ricc Kid” becoming a major embarassment and problem is not restricted to Saudi Society.
    Osama’s Daddy was founder of the “Bin Laden Construction Group”. If ever there was a capitalist pig, in the most perjoritive meaning of the phrase, it was Osama’s Daddy.
    Unfortunately, Saudi Arabia has more than its fair share of “Poor Little Rich Kids” rejecting Daddies capitalist pig ways.
    Just as poor little rich kids like Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden(son of a powerful politician) exploited millions of American “really poor” kids. The Bin Laden children and their Platinum Spoon classmates are doing the same.
    I can think of no greater argument for 100% estate taxes than Osama Bin Laden and Jane Fonda.
    Poor little rich kids with huge inheritances are a danger to world peace.

  • I heartily concur w/Prof. Abdiweli: what the he@ll are they smoking at the US DOS, pushing for the release of a “moderate” terrorist leader? Does the State Dept really have no other function but to desperately fight to pull defeat from the jaws of victory? This has been their pattern in every conflict on earth.
    Can our Commander in Chief really have no control over these treasonous clerks?

  • RJ says:

    Did I read that our State Department has labeled this man from the “religion of peace” a moderate while others (say…in our military) consider him a radical? Old singer Joe Tex had a number where it went:”don’t let your right hand know what your left hand is doing…”
    Let’s see: I (Sheik,Islamic religious leader, whatever title du jour)go to State Department picnics and converse with everyone using my higher education where I extoll the virtues of being Islamist and moderate…my caring side so to speak. Then, when I get to the other “battlefield” I show my fellow “true believers” and Islamists how to win the war by hating “ole white eyes” and killing all those around us who may be in our way.
    Maybe the real problem in all of this is within us and our people who live in government with faceless faces weilding power over our lives and future.

  • David M says:

    Trackbacked by The Thunder Run – Web Reconnaissance for 02/05/2007
    A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention.

Iraq

Islamic state

Syria

Aqap

Al shabaab

Boko Haram

Isis