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