Ethiopian Convoy Ambushed in Aweys’ “Greater Somalia”

Islamic Courts attacks an Ethiopian military convoy; Aweys calls for a “Greater Somalia” in the Horn of Africa

ICU militiamen in a “technical.” Click image to view.

The Islamic Courts Union has ambushed an Ethiopian military column of 80 vehicles, and killed 6 Ethiopian soldiers and wounded 20. The Islamic courts conducted a sophisticated attack against a professional military, hitting the column with roadside bombs first, then attacking with small arms. The ICU force is estimated at about 50 fighters. The Ethiopians were transiting to Baidoa, and hit near Bardale, about 50 miles southwest of Baidoa. There are no reports of RPGs or anti-tank weapons used during the engagement at this time.

An Islamic Courts spokesman confirmed the engagement, as did an anonymous member of the Transitional Federal Government. The TFG assistant minister of defense has denied the attack occurred, calling it “a propaganda.” The Associated Press calls the ambush “the first known skirmish between the rival forces,” however this is not accurate. The ICU captured an Ethiopian reconnaissance officer during fighting near Baidoa at the end of October [which the Associated Press reported…]

The Islamic courts are importing tactics from both al Qaeda and Hezbollah, and bring them to bear against the Transitional Federal Government and Ethiopian forces in Somalia. Over the summer, the Islamic Court used suicide bombers for the first time in Baidoa. The roadside bombs used in the weekend ambush were tested and perfected by al Qaeda and Hezbollah in Chechnya, Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon.

Last week, the United Nations issued a report on Somalia, stating 720 Somalis were sent to Lebanon to receive training and fight against the Israelis (although it should be noted the Israelis never identified Somalis killed or captured on the battlefield, the likelihood is the Somalis trained and operated in rear areas.) “At least 100 Somali fighters returned, along with five Hezbollah members, while an unknown number stayed in Lebanon for advanced military training,” notes Reuters.

As the Islamic Courts grows bold and directly attacks the Ethiopian supply lines, Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys, the al Qaeda linked leader of the Islamic Courts Union, has called for a “Greater Somalia” in the Horn of Africa. “We will leave no stone unturned to integrate our Somali brothers in Kenya and Ethiopia and restore their freedom to live with their ancestors in Somalia,” said Aweys, during an interview with Shabelle Radio. The Ethiopian and Kenyan governments have a vested interest in seeing the Islamic Courts fail, and for good reason.

Meanwhile, Aweys and the ICu continue to build a “Greater Somalia” within Somali territory. The ICU continues to turn Somalia into a Taliban-like state. The ICU officially banned khat, a popular leafy drug chewed by any in the Horn of Africa. The ICU opened fire on a crowd of protesters in Mogadishu upset over the Khat ban, killing one 13 year old boy and wounding several others. Smoking cigarettes and other tobacco products is now forbidden. The Somali Tobacco Company was forced to burned its stocks, and the ICU arrested 22 smokers in Kismayo, “where they will be flogged if found guilty of violating a new tobacco ban.” The ICU also shut down a wine factory in Mogadishu.

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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  • Ethiopian Convoy Attacked:

    Bill Roggio analyzes an attack on an Ethiopian convoy ambushed in ‘Greater Somalia’. “The Islamic Courts Union has ambushed an Ethiopian military column of 80 vehicles, and killed 6 Ethiopian soldiers and wounded 20. The Islamic courts conducted a soph…

  • Anand says:

    Lisa, those protesters do not represent most Indonesians. Remember that 200 people died in the 2002 Al Qaeda attack on Bali Indonesia. Most Indonesians hate Al Qaeda, Takfiris and Salafis–whom they blame for trying to wreck their tourist industry. Most Indonesians who criticize us blame us for not fighting the terrorists strongly enough, or effectively enough–and have lightly held beliefs that can be changed with additional information and engagement. We in this country failed to assertively explain what we are doing and why to the Indonesian people, or listen to them carefully enough. We should have pushed the Indonesians hard in 2001 and 2002 to deploy peacekeepers in Afghanistan (Karzai was popular in Indonesia at that time), and offered to reimburse all the costs for deploying the Indonesian army. We didn’t do so because the global left would have screamed about us collaborating with the wicked Indonesian military that abused the human rights of the Timorese people–although Indonesia is by far the world’s largest muslim country and a free democracy. Most Indonesians are hurt by the global left criticizing their human rights and associate the global left with America.
    The vast majority of Indonesians aren’t nearly as anti-American as most Sunni Arabs and Pakistanis (or even most relatively moderate Bangladeshis). Indonesians are treated very badly by muslims in the middle east, who see their local moderate version of islam as corrupted and even infidel. Most Indonesians are very hurt by this, and resentful of Arabs (whom they dislike more than us).
    I think that a major strategic alliance or partnership between America and Indonesia is possible with good leadership on both sides, and such a development would be devastating to the forces of Jihad.
    Somehow, a world where people do not feel to shoot their mouths off and say stupid things would not feel right . . . somehow I feel safer and more at ease when I see uninformed people saying things that don’t make much sense 😉
    Most Africans are illiterate, poor and uninformed, but they are badly served by authoritarian governments. Their problems are not America’s fault, but neither are they primarily responsible for their own condition. Many try to be good and happy people, making the best of their situation. Africa is not a “pitiful” place. 🙂 Don’t forget the Ethiopians. They may solve the Somalian problem for the rest of the world without expecting a word of thanks, even from us in the States!
    Bill, thanks for the heads up regarding our valiant Ethiopian allies. I hope that the the rest of the media picks up what’s happening in Somalia.

  • dee says:

    When I spent a year in the Kismayo area, and the article linked to is correct about it being one of the more “liberal” areas in Somalia. You could literally get anything there.

    What is strange is the Islamic Courts in Mogadishu are able to maintain very much sway over the locals down in the Kismayo area.

    They must have had to do some heavy recruiting up in the Merka area (where there’s a heavy concentration of Islamists) in order to get a few religious cops stupid enough to try this, or they managed to convert a few tribal leaders.

    I’ve got a feeling that things in Kismayo will get pretty ugly if the Islamists actually flog anyone.

    Tribal warfare is almost a national past-time in Somalia (only topped by soccer), and there are thousands of feuds occurring in that country.
    So I wouldn’t doubt that there will be plenty of people down there waiting to grab their AK’s the first time a person gets a lash applied.

  • chsw says:

    Of course, there is no word on ICU’s casualties. However, they had the advantage of surprise twice. First with the IED’s and again with automatic fire. I am surprised that Ethiopian casualties were not higher. Hence, I think that more than a few ICU fighters met their virgins.
    And may all of their virgins look like Yasser Arafat.

  • red river says:

    In training, with a platoon – 50 men, we regularly wiped out mounted companies in trucks. And just with claymores and machine guns. This would be 16 trucks plus 2 x guard APCs.
    Does not sound like a very good ambush by the ICU. But its an ambush. And it caused 26 casualties. That shows initiative and some planning.


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