Somalia’s Foreign Fighters

Sheikh Hassan Turki flaunts the involvement of “foreign fighters” in Somalia as Shariah law is enforced in Kismayo

ahmed and indohaadde.jpg

Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Sheik Yusuf Indohaadde during a news briefing, Saturday, June 17, 2006. AP photograph, click to view.

Al-Qaeda’s involvement in the rise of the Islamic Courts has been a well know fact for months, even though the Islamic Courts and many western analysts and media outlets have papered over this issue. Hassan Dahir Aweys, the leader of the Islamic Courts, is on the U.S. State Department’s list of “Specially Designated Global Terrorists.” The Islamic Courts Union is currently sheltering three known terrorists involved with the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania; Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan and Abu Taha al-Sudani. Seventeen know terrorist training camps have been identified throughout Somalia.

Today, Garowe Online reports Sheikh Hassan “Turki” Abdullahi Hersi has openly admitted to foreign involvement in Somalia during a speech to supporters after seizing the southern port city of Kismayo. “Brothers in Islam, we came from Mogadishu and we have thousands of fighters, some are Somalis and others are from the Muslim world… You knew when U.S. troops arrived in Somalia in 1992 they came with their allied nations and now we have our alliance [the Muslims]… If Christian-led America brought its infidels, we now call to our Muslim holy fighters to come join us…” said Sheikh Hassan Turki.

The presence of ‘Foreign fighters’ in Somalia is not a new development. In early July of 2006, just after the Islamic Courts seized Mogadishu, a videotape of Sheikh Yusuf Indohaadde in the presence of al Qaeda fighters in the deserts of Somalia was released. The videotape which was produced for both Somali and Arab audiences, and had Arabic subtitles and music. The release of the tape occurred after Indohaadde denied the presence of foreign fighters.

In Kismayo, the Islamic Courts wasted little time establishing Shariah law. The Islamic Courts forced the remaining militia to hand over their weapons, including “18 battle wagons” (or technicals), during a public display of humiliation. The Islamic courts immediately ordered the closing of cinemas and sporting. Khat, a popular drug, has been banned. Women and children have been arrested for protesting the presence of the Islamic Courts.

The weak transitional government in Baidoa may be preparing for a last stand. A large Ugandan military plane was seen landing at Baidoa’s airport, and delivered three armored vehicles and other equipment. Up to 400 Ethiopian forces, with armored vehicles, are believed to be in the city.

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

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