Countdown to Kismayo

The Somalia Battlefield on 12/29/2006.
Light blue – Ethiopian & TFG advances.
Green – ICU territory.
Orange – recent clashes.
Click image to view.

The Islamic Courts are massing in the south in Kismayo and Ras Kamboni; The Ethiopians are heading southward

As the Ethiopian and Transitional Federal Government continue to consolidate their gains in central Somalia and Mogadishu, they have gathered a force south of the capital to pursue the Islamic Courts. The Ethiopian armored force of about 500 vehicles, about 200 tanks, has been reported to be moving southward towards the town of Jilib. “Ethiopian and government forces have come to Bulo Marer and they headed to Baravo [Barawe on the map],” according to Shabelle. “Islamic fighter dug in to fight against the allied forces” outside of Jilib, notes SomaliNet, while the Ethiopian Air Force has been buzzing Kismayo. Ethiopian forces are said to be moving on Buale, just north of Jilib, as well.

The Islamic Courts militias have massed in the southern, strategic port city of Kismayo. The Islamic Courts force is estimated at over 3,000 militiamen. Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, the leader of the Islamic Courts, has vowed to turn the fight to an insurgency. “I call on the Islamic Courts fighters, supporters and every true Muslim to start an insurgency against the Ethiopian troops in Somalia. We are telling the Ethiopians in Somalia that they will never succeed in their mission. By Allah, they will fail,” said Sharif, at a sermon in Kismayo for the Muslim holiday of Eid. “We will not allow the Ethiopian troops to stay peacefully in Somalia.”

Ras Kamboni. Click image to view.

American intelligence and military sources inform us the Islamic Courts, al Qaeda and foreign fighters are also massing at Ras Kamboni [Kaambooni on the map, also see satellite image]. Ras Kamboni sits on the Indian ocean, and is less than two miles from the Kenyan border. This can pose a problem for Ethiopian forces moving into the area, as it will require extra care to ensure the fighting doesn’t spill over to the Kenyan side of the border.

Ras Kamboni has a history of Al-Itihaad Al-Islamiya [the predicessor to the Islamic Courts] and al Qaeda activity. “In May 1999, al-Sharq al-Awsat said al Qaeda was setting up a camp near the coastal town of Ras Kamboni and was installing sophisticated communications there,” wrote Michael Scheuer in Through Our Enemies’ Eyes.

“The terrorist attacks against U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 and the suicide bomb attacks of Israeli-owned Paradise Hotel in Mombassa and the failed attempt to bring down an Israeli passenger jet with two surface-to-air missiles in 2002 were widely believed to have been orchestrated from Ras Kamboni in southern Somalia,” reported the Ethiopian News Agency in July of 2006.

The Ras Kamboni facility is still active, and is one of the 17 known terrorist camps in Somalia.

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



  • lou737 says:

    Its war

  • GK says:

    Is it sad that I am hoping that Ethiopia massacre all the Islamic Court fighters?
    Taking prisoners, releasing captives, negotiating with them, etc. have not helped in any battle against Jihadis so far.
    A decisive, permanent action would be a refreshing change.

  • GK says:

    Also, is there any reason not to destroy those 17 terrorist camps? Why would this not be done?

  • sangell says:

    Anyone got an reasonable explanation for why these guys are going to stand and fight in Kismayo? Is this the Islamic martyrdom complex at work?
    They can’t have had time to prepare a Shuri line or even half assed fortifications so do they have any realistic chance of surviving an Ethiopian assault?

  • Bill Roggio says:

    The Ethiopians are no doubt handling the camps, as this is one of their stated goals.
    I believe another commenter made this point elsewhere, and I agree. My guess is the ICU didn’t want to alienate its clan support base by fighting it out in Mogadishu, which indicates to me they expect to try for ruling Somalia again. The ICU has not been popular in Kismayo, and probably wouldn’t mind destroying this city.
    That’s assuming the ICU will stand and fight. By all accounts, the Ethiopians have been crushing all ICU resistance (while taking heavy casualties on their side as well). I have to wonder how many of the 3,300 or so really want to martyr themselves…

  • Rob says:

    This brings back memories of the collapse of the Taliban in Afghanistan. And especially Al Qaeda there. They had worn out their welcome and few morned their defeat. Again a priority should be to kill the Salafists there and not scatter them to grow strong again. I think the Ethiopians know this.
    It would be interesting to know more. These are critical battles for the future of Africa, and we are getting very little information.

  • HAL TRIPP says:



Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram