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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Retaking Somolia Becomes an al Qaeda Priority

A congressional report on Somalia was released last week. The gist is that al-Qaeda's East African operations are intact, and they're out for revenge. After the ICU lost its hold on Somalia following the Ethiopian invasion, the group's donors started pumping more money into the country. Al-Qaeda's senior leadership is also clearly prioritizing Somalia, as virtually all the tapes they have released since early January mention Somalia in some way. I spoke with a senior U.S. military intelligence officer over the weekend who reports that a number of Yemeni tribes who would have previously sent jihadists to Iraq are now sending them to Somalia instead.

Eritrea continues to provide weapons and logistical support to the ICU, and possibly military advisors as well. While Eritrea provided advisors earlier, they may have been pulled out of the country because a number of them were killed during Ethiopia's invasion.

Tactically, the ICU is exercising a remarkable degree of restraint in its fighting and target selection. It is almost exclusively targeting transitional federal government (TFG) troops and police. Often radical Islamic groups will also kill "collaborators," but thus far the ICU hasn't done so. When the ICU left Mogadishu, it did so on fairly good terms with the clan elders. Obviously the ICU is attempted to keep this good will alive.

Readthe Rest from Daveed Gartenstein-Ross @ The CounterTerrorism Blog

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