Subscribe

RSS Feed (xml)

Powered By

Skin Design:
Free Blogger Skins

Powered by Blogger

Sunday, June 29, 2008

AQIM Fighters Cornered in Aftis NEar Jijel

Saturdeay, 28/6 Paris - Six police officers and soldiers have been killed and 14 people injured in clashes with terrorists belonging to the al- Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) group, Algerian media reported Saturday, citing security sources. The clashes took place over the Muslim weekend, or Thursday and Friday, the reports said.

In the spa resort of Aftis near Jijel, a group of 30 AQIM fighters who had been cornered by the military split into three commandos and tried to fight their way out of the area.
Four members of the security forces were killed when the first commando attacked their vehicles.

The second commando attacked a sentry, while the third attacked police officers called as reinforcements.

Two soldiers were killed and 11 injured in attacks on the Kabylian coast.

the Rest @ EarthTimes

ONGC’s Indian Owned Oil Company Comes Under Attack for Sudan Deals

Hyderabad: International activists are turning the heat on India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd (ONGC) over its operations in the civil war-ravaged African nation Sudan following similar campaigns against Chinese and Malaysian oil firms.

Amnesty International, Genocide Intervention Network (GIN) and Investors Against Genocide have launched targeted campaigns after GIN’s Sudan Divestment Task Force report identified ONGC as among the top four “highest offenders” indirectly contributing to the ongoing conflict in Sudan. While estimates vary, the conflict, which started in 2003, is believed to have killed nearly 300,000 people and displaced at least two million Sudanese from their homes.

ONGC has invested nearly $1 billion (Rs4,288 crore) in Sudanese oilfields and is one of the top three players in the oil sector in that country. Activists claim that ONGC is stonewalling efforts by both activists as well as investors to engage the company on its operations in Sudan.

“We have regularly written to and called ONGC but, have not yet been able to secure a meeting or phone call to discuss their operations in Sudan. To our knowledge, investors have not yet been able to effectively engage with ONGC either,” said GIN International coordinator Scott Wisor.

Trade data shows Sudan’s oil exports stood at $4.8 bn in 2006 and may touch $7 bn in 2007
Asked about the human rights issues involved in the company’s Sudan operations, ONGC spokesperson M. Selva Pandian said the company acknowledged the “ethical question” involved and the “big dilemma” that it poses.

“However, we are a 74% state-owned company and a purely commercial entity. It is not really in our hands, we follow the directions given by the Indian government,” the spokesperson added. Joining ONGC on the shortlist in the report, released on 31 May, are China National Petroleum Corp., Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas) and China Petroleum and Chemical Corp. (Sinopec).

As per International Trade Center (ITC) data, Sudan’s oil export, which constitutes nearly 90% of total exports, stood at $4.8 billion in 2006 and are expected to touch $7 billion in 2007.

Amnesty claims that close to 70% of this oil revenue is used by the Sudanese government for military expenditure. The campaign by the human rights activists is channelled through mutual fund houses and institutional investors who will have a better chance of influencing companies they have invested in.

“Ultimately, the goal is to get big oil companies, like Petronas or ONGC, to engage the Sudanese government to end the violence in Sudan,” wrote Amy O’Meara, Amnesty International USA human rights and business director, in an email response to Mint’s questions. “We are talking to major investors in the US who have holdings in ONGC as well as the other major oil companies operating in Sudan, in the hopes that they will raise these concerns with the company.”

  • Violent conflict started in Sudan in February 2003. A month later, ONGC started operating in Sudan through the wholly owned subsidiary ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL)
  • by acquiring a 25% stake in Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Co. from Canada’s Talisman Inc. for $720 million, as per the data available on the company website.
  • Expanding its operations in May 2004, OVL acquired a 24.125% stake in Block 5A and a 23.5% stake in Block 5B operated by the White Nile Petroleum Operating Co. Ltd from Austria’s OMV Aktiengesellschaft for $134 million.
  • According to shareholding data available with the Bombay Stock Exchange, as on 31 March, foreign institutional investors, or FIIs, held nearly 8% stake in ONGC.
  • At current market price, the entire FII holding is valued at around $560 million. American Funds is the single largest FII investor in ONGC, holding 46,016,142 shares or a 2.14% stake.
  • Campaigners have made headway with some large fund houses such as American Funds (handles $900 billion globally), Fidelity International Ltd ($279 billion), Berkshire Hathaway and T Rowe Price ($376 billion). Berkshire, Fidelity and T Rowe Price have reduced their holdings in Chinese oil companies linked to Sudan since the Sudan Divestment Campaign started two years ago.


“We are not trying to get anybody to sell their stake in ONGC, and we are not demanding that they stop operating in Sudan. Rather, we want the company to understand the impact that oil revenues are having in Sudan, how they are being used by the Sudanese government to fund military campaigns in Darfur,” O’Meara said. In an effort to maintain sustained pressure on ONGC at its home front, Amnesty International and GIN are looking to partner with Indian organizations who can lead the campaign in India. Wisor who travelled to India last month as part of this effort, says that there is a severe lack of awareness in India about ONGC’s operations in Sudan and the firm’s potential to make a difference in the civil war-ravaged African nation.


Indeed, even R.K. Pachauri —a member of the ONGC board of directors and chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize—told Mint in a telephone interview that he was not aware of the issue. He declined additional comment on the issue saying that any comment he made would be “uninformed”. “

The Rest @ livemint (Wall Street Journal)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Two More UN Aid workers Kidnapped in Somalia

Nairobi/Mogadishu - Gunmen have abducted two people working for the United Nations' mine action programme in Somalia, the BBC said Saturday.

Reports said that gunmen seized the two, believed to be Scandinavian, and a Somali aid worker after temporarily gaining control of a town in southern Somalia.

Nobody from the UN's mine programme in Somali or its coordinating office in neighbouring Kenya was available to confirm the reports.

Many aid workers have been abducted since the man believed to be al-Qaeda's top operative in the country, Aden Hashi Ayro, was killed in a US air strike on May 1.

The head of the UN refugee agency UNHCR's Mogadishu programme was kidnapped last weekend and is still being held.

Several other aid workers have been in the hands of gunmen for months and the World Food Programme has seen three of its drivers killed.

The Rest

The Somali Money Transmitters Association (SOMTA)

I found this in google's Cache, and wanted to presearve the data before it disapears. Here is another website under development here, but I wanted to preserve the Officers names, for the record.

-Shimron

SOMTA

Somali is a poor country that has suffered massive internal conflict. There is no proper government and no banking system. Many Somalis live in other countries and send money home to support their families. Remittance companies provide a service that enables them to do so efficiently and economically. However, there is concern that the mechanisms used for this purpose can also be used for other, illegal, purposes.

Six leading Somalia money transmitters have therefore entered into a Memorandum of Understanding. The key features of this are - The adoption of strict membership requirements established an association to help ensure that the industry operates to the highest possible standards. They have been supported by the United Nations Development Program, which recognises the important role that remittance companies play in alleviating poverty and promoting economic development.

The Somali Money Transmitters Association (SOMTA) has the following objective:
To secure the future of the Somali remittance industry through a safe and healthy sector comprising of fully compliant money transmitters who are able to operate and compete globally, and to promote the image of the industry.

The members have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding:
Its based on compliance with registration and licensing requirements in the countries in which they operate and observation of legal requirements in respect of money laundering.
The establishment of compliance standards and an independent compliance audit that companies will have to pass in order to retain membership.

SOMTA has established rules governing membership and compliance arrangements. Other companies willing to comply with the rules are welcome to join.

SOMTA takes the form of a company limited by guarantee, registered in the UK. It is governed by a Council comprising of -

Council Members
  • Ali Yassin Farah (Amal Express)
  • Mr. Mustafa I. Said (Dahabshiil)
  • Mr. Mohamed Ahmed Kadiye (Qaran Express)
  • Ahmed Salad Waranle (Al-Mustaqbal Express)

Adminstration Group

  • Mohamed Djirdeh Hussein Chairman and Executive Director of The Council
  • Sh. Ciise Ali Wardere Vice Chairman
  • Cumar Cali Cabdallah Adminstration Assistant


Membership


Only corporate bodies may be become members. A company applying to be a member must meet the following conditions -

  • The member itself and the persons it entrusts with the tasks of management and administration for it in the domain of money transmission business must enjoy a good reputation with regard to their activity as money transmitters.
  • It and its agents must be registered or have a valid licence to conduct business as a money transmitter in all jurisdictions where they operate that have such requirements.
  • It must not use correspondents that are not registered or do not have licences in jurisdictions where this is required.
  • It must have a viable, written and verifiable compliance handbook and programme that meets requirements of all the countries they operate in.
  • It must operate in compliance with all applicable legal and regulatory requirements, and cooperate with law enforcement agencies when called upon.
  • It must use money transfer technology and procedures and controls that effectively protect the operator and its agents from money launderers and financiers of terrorism.
  • Members must use technology, systems and procedures that have been approved for the purpose by the Council.

Application for membership

  • The Council may stipulate the manner in which applications may be made.
  • An application must contain a written declaration that the applicant agrees unreservedly to comply with the Articles of Association, bye laws and rules and regulations of the Association.
  • An applicant for membership shall provide with its application documentation providing information on its organisational structure and business activity. At a minimum, this shall include:
    Registered company name;
    Particulars of its corporate objectives and activities;
    A copy of its memorandum and articles of association or equivalent documents;
    Full contact details of places of business (address, telephone number, email address) and money transmitter networks, including details of all agents;
  • The names of the proprietor or beneficial owners, the members of the management and authorised signatories, together with their respective shareholdings; Information on membership of trade associations;
  • Details of licences or registration for all jurisdictions in which the member operates.
    The Council shall accept an application if it satisfied itself that the applicant meets the requirements of these Rules. Otherwise, the application shall be rejected.
  • If the Council rejects the application, the applicant may appeal to an independent arbitrator as provided for in paragraph 18 of these Rules.

Compliance audits

  • The Council shall make Rules governing compliance audits.
  • All full members shall have a satisfactory compliance audit not later than 31 October 2006. After 31 October 2006 an applicant for membership must have had a satisfactory compliance audit.
  • Members will be required to have a full compliance audit every year.
    A member that fails to have a satisfactory compliance audit in accordance with the Rules made by the Council shall automatically cease to be a member.

Standards for remaining a member

  • Members must at all times satisfy and comply with the membership standards as stipulated by the Council.
  • A member falling behind more than 30 days in their dues shall lose their membership. Should the member be reinstated within 12 months of such a lapse, the intervening months must be paid up.
  • The Executive Director shall periodically check the information available from public sources to ascertain whether members continue to satisfy the conditions for membership.

Expulsion from membership or imposition of conditions

  • The Council may expel a company from membership if it fails to comply with the Articles of Association or rules, regulations or bye laws made by the Council.
  • The Council will notify a member of any proposal to expel it and the reasons for doing so and shall invite the member to make representation to the Council at the meeting when the expulsion is considered.
  • The Council, as an alternative to expulsion, may impose conditions which a member must meet in order to retain membership.
  • If the Council resolves to expel a member or to impose conditions which must be met in order to retain membership, the member may appeal to an arbitrator as provided for in paragraph 18 of these rules.

Arbitration

  • The Council shall appoint an independent arbitrator who will be empowered to hear appeals against decisions of the Council on membership, expulsion or the imposition of conditions on membership.
  • The decision of the Arbitrator will be binding on the Association and the company.

Composition of the Council

  • The Council may determine its size.
  • The Council may determine its quorum subject to this being no fewer than half the members of the Council.
  • The founder members of the Association and any other members paying the maximum subscription shall each be entitled to nominate a member of the Council.
  • The Council may co-opt additional members of the Council.
  • The Council shall appoint a Chairman from among its members.

Powers of the Council

  • The Council shall decide on all matters which are not wholly reserved to the general meeting of the Association.
  • The Council may delegate any of its powers to another committee or to an individual.
    The Council shall, where necessary, issue rules laying down the powers of the other committees and organisational units.
  • The duties of the Council include, in particular:
    laying down, coordinating and supervising the various functions;
    issuing and amending the Rules; formulating compliance, training and development plans and arranging for their implementation;
  • Deciding on the appointment of auditors for verifying compliance with the membership requirements;
  • Taking decisions to accept or to expel members or to impose conditions on membership;
  • Appointing and terminating the contract of the Executive Director and any other staff;
    appointing the members of committees;
  • Selecting and appointing the auditor to the Association;
    managing the assets of the association;
  • Drawing up the annual budget at the proposal of the Executive Director and fixing the membership subscription;
  • Preparing and presenting motions to be put to a general meeting.
  • The Council shall also determine which persons are authorised to represent the Association and the manner in which the legally binding signature of the Association is to be exercised.
    The Council shall determine when and where its meetings shall be held, including holding meetings by electronic means.

Executive Director

  • The Council shall appoint an Executive Director, to be responsible for the management of the Association, and shall determine the terms and conditions of the appointment. The Council may delegate any of its functions to the Executive Director.

Associates

  • The Council may make rules allowing companies and other organisations that do not qualify for full membership to become associates of the Association, and to determine the fees to be paid and the rights and obligations of associates.
  • An associate will have no membership rights and may not describe itself as a member of the Association.

Meetings of members

  • The Association shall hold an annual general meeting not later than six months after the end of each financial year.
  • At least one third of the members of the Association, or the Council, may at any time require the Executive Director to convene a general meeting.
  • In convening such a meeting the Executive Director shall give not less than 21 days notice to members of the business to be transacted.
    At general meetings of the Association each member shall have one vote for each $1,000 of subscription income. [interesting-the richest members control the organization-Shimron]
  • The Council shall present an annual report of its activities to the annual meeting.

A meeting of members shall have the following powers -

  • To expel a member for non compliance with these Rules where the Council has failed to act of a recommendation of the Executive Director to do so.
  • To remove a member of the Council.
    To amend these Rules and any other rules, regulations or bye laws made by the Council.

Money Transfers in Somalia - One version of its Corrupt History

This intersting piece is from Aden Yabarow a writer for the Somaliland Times. Much of what is claimed here is unverifiable, though the general time line is consistent with other published work.

It claims to refute this article bublished on 14 May By Reuters Africa.

In reality, it also claims it also confirms the UNDP is corrupt. It also insight into the remmitance industry in Somalia, which is used by legitimate expora as well as terrorists to move money around.

-Shimron

In this article I will be highlighting the major events, which happened in the Somali Remittance Industry.

And I am proving that Mr Ismail Ahmed’s so-called whistle blowing interview to the Reuters http://africa.reuters.com/top/news/usnBAN443502.html in which he accused Dalsan as a terrorism protégé was just ‘crocodile tears’. Readers will also get a brief awareness about UNDP [United Nations Development Program]Somalia’s corrupt deeds and how it mismanages Somalia’s funds.

Part I

I believe that desperation has created Mr Ismail’s attitude. During his employment with UNDP-Somalia, SOMTA [The Somali Money Transmitters Association] was established, and Mr Jirdeh was appointed as its chairman.

  • With the full involvement of Mr Eric Overvest funds were approved for SOMTA, anti-money laundering training programs were given for SOMTA’s members ONLY and a new agreement was signed with an American company to develop an IT Platform for the Remittance Companies (including SFSA member but without their knowledge).

  • More than USD 600,000 is allocated for PAYQUICK to design and execute the Platform. Over USD 170,000 were allocated for SOMTA’s operations in Dubai.
  • And since some Pretoria Salute (as South Africans call bribing) deals were involved a disagreement happened between the interest group.
  • Mr Eric Overvest of UNDP-Somalia sided with Mr Jirdeh, as he is the Chairman of SOMTA and controls the funds.
  • The infighting ended up in the sacking of Mr Ismail from his job with UNDP Somalia.
  • To take his revenge from the UNDP, Mr Ismail gave an interview to the Reuters. In that interview he singled out a non- existing company called Dalsan.
  • I believe that the main reason for choosing Dalsan is that the former chairman of SFSA Europe Mr Osman and SFSA members was against his employment with the UNDP-Somalia.
  • SFSA claimed at the time that Mr Ismail was an employee of Dahabshiil as mentioned by Mr Ulusow’s article.
  • And to kill two birds with one stone he accused UNDP-Somalia through Dalsan’s alleged connections with a terror group as he claimed.

To update the readers about the chain of events, here are the major milestones, which happened in the Industry since 2001.

Part II

2001 was the year that Albarakat Money Transfer Company was closed. This action triggered the need for an organisation, which regulates and protects the Somali remittance industry.·

  • In 2003 Somali Financial Services Association was launched in Dubai and London. The inception of SFSA was attended by representatives from the remittance companies and financial regulators from UK, Continental Europe and the US.
  • A quote from former UNDP Resident Country Director Mr Maxwell Gaylard is “The Association will help safeguard this lifeline into Somalia and contribute to the development of the economy and the capacity of those who drive it.”
  • Late 2005, UNDP Somalia employed Mr Ismail Ahmed. Most of the SFSA members were opposed to his employment. Dalsan’s UK representative and then chairman of SFSA was very vocal about this employment.
  • UNDP-Somalia insisted on its employment of Mr ismail and gave an opportunity to an interest group, which got the dossiers of all the remittance companies under its control.
  • Mr Mohamed Jirdeh Hussein – former secretary general of SFSA and father-in-law of Mr. Ismail Ahmed – supported UNDP-Somalia’s decision.
  • The relationship between SFSA and the interest group soured immediately.
  • A new association called SOMTA was established in London on 20/07/2006 as per http://www.somta.org/news/.[ [This website is apparently underconstruction @ CBJDigital
  • The new organisation represented only 4 remittance companies. UNDP-Somalia supported SOMTA and severed all ties with SFSA, which represents 7 money transfer companies.
  • SOMTA’s establishment divided the Somali Remittance Industry into two groups.

SFSA, which is the majority and self sustained

SOMTA, which is the minority supported and financed by the UNDP.

  • As Mr Ulusow predicted and supported by a research conducted by independent concerned Somali parties, SOMTA is used only as a tool of funds embezzlement, and so far it hasn’t succeeded in protecting or regulating the Somali Remittance industry.
  • Another new development is the introduction of PAYQUICK. This US Company was assigned to design a Platform for the industry. Interestingly, the initial cost of the project is USD 640k and could run to about a million in few years.
  • In order to make things worse for the industry, Somali Remittance Companies’ compliance is linked to the acceptance and usage of PAYQUICK’s Platform. In other words, UNDP-Somalia is not recognising any money transfer company as a compliant organisation unless it utilises PAYQUICK’s platform.
  • PAYQUICK’s deal closes the door for the Somali IT experts, which are available in the market. Industry sources told me that Somali IT professionals are technically more advanced than PAYQUICK and can develop a better platform at a fraction of PAYQUICK’s costs. They are easily accessible and culturally compliant than a less know Foreign Service provider.
  • Nearly three years passed. UNDP-Somalia’s divide and rule policies spearheaded by Mr Eric Overvest failed.
  • PAYQUICK’s platform project couldn’t be implemented and the few remaining members of the group disintegrated. · After successive failures, UNDP-Somalia contacted SFSA and invited it to a meeting held in Dubai in February 2008. Some insiders believe that the main reason of SFSA’s invitation was to cover-up the wrong doings of the interest group. And to fulfil the agreement with PAYQUICK, but this time with the endorsement of the whole industry.
  • It was also a message intended to daunt some rouge members of the interest group. · 60% of the contracted funds were to be released for PAYQUICK in February 2008, but SFSA rejected to be a rubber stamp for this adventure at this final stage.
  • It is now Mr Jirdeh alone who is going to approve the release of the funds on behalf of SOMTA members only. Nonetheless, the execution of PAYQUICK’s Platform is far away as some SOMTA members showed reservations about its viability.·
  • Successive meetings in February and March 2008 with UNDP-Somalia, SFSA members proved to the UNDP that its members comply with the rules and regulations of the host countries.
  • Some SFSA members are registered and operate in countries where none of SOMTA members are registered. It was clearly stated to the UNDP’s Eric Overvest that it is unfair to stereotype SFSA to what others may say about it especially issues regarding compliance.
  • As usual UNDP-Somalia made promises to SFSA with regard to International Compliance Training globally and other supports similar to what it offers to SOMTA. According to insiders nothing has been done for SFSA and UNDP-Somalia once again broke its promises.
  • A separate meeting between Eric Overvest of UNDP-Somalia and SOMTA members happened in Dubai during March 2008.
  • SOMTA were willing to impeach their chairman and executive director, Mr M Jirdeh. The chairman was accused of having a corrupt relationship with UNDP and PAYQUICK and that is why he is advocating for the implementation of PAYQUICK’s Platform. He was also accused of misappropriating SOMTA’s funds and using them for his personal purposes.
  • Unfortunately, Mr Eric Overvest was directly opposed to the removing of Mr Jirdeh and the basic rights of SOMTA’s members were denied. This direct interference of the industry affairs shows another page of UNDP-Somalia’s blunders.·
  • An article based on Mr Ismail’s account was published on 14/05/2008 by the Reuters. Though the article highlighted UNDP-Somalia’s grey dealings it came from a former member of the interest group. The gentleman was taking revenge from the UNDP and from a former chairman of SFSA who was opposed to his employment with the UN.
  • Insofar compliance is concerned; this article is not based on the factuality on the ground. As all distinguished readers know, it is not possible for any money transfer company to operate in a western country without fully complying with its financial rules and regulations.
  • Whether it is a SOMTA member or SFSA member, all remittance companies operate in a transparent and compliant way in Europe and in the US. This fact contradicts with Reuter’s client’s claims, which are no more than tears shed by a crocodile after feasting with his prey.
  • Reuter’s article has exploded a shell within UNDP-Somalia and an independent commission was appointed to investigate the matter. It is not the first time that investigations were made into the corrupt affairs of UNDP-Somalia’s management of this project.
  • So far none of the enquiries were successful because the perpetuators were the suspects and the judges both.· The new independent commission did their assessment for two weeks and met with the same UNDP-Somalia managers who were accused in Nairobi.
  • Then they were given the names of their counterparts in Dubai. They visited Dubai in the early June 2008 and secretly met with the pre-assigned individuals. They didn’t meet anybody outside the sphere of the corrupt group.
  • I don’t expect that the outcome of this investigation to be different from its predecessors. The results will be dictated by the remnants of the interest group who are still in the UNDP offices in Nairobi.
  • Part III

The above paragraphs shed light on the history of the UNDP-Somalia and the Somali remittance industry. It also highlights the level of corruption that is happening and the integrity of UNDP-Somalia’s officials who are handling this project. It also stresses the lies and threats, which the remittance companies endure from rouge elements within UNDP-Somalia.

  • In some instances some members of the industry was indirectly threatened by using UN reports regarding arms embargo to Somalia.
  • Some members are in constant fear of closures. It is imperative to note that, if a small fraction of the Somalia’s aid is managed this way; how many corruptive dealings could happen in the tens of millions of US dollars poured into UNDP-Somalia’s account.
  • Though the UN had past history of corruption within its ranks, UNDP-Somalia’s case is very exceptional.Somalia has no functioning Central Bank and every penny of international aid comes through UNDP-Somalia.

It is a tragedy to have non-functioning government institutions and a corrupt organisation like UNDP-Somalia which serves as the cashier and the accountant general for poor Somalia. I urge the UN, the international community and the Somali intellectuals to give proper attention to the misappropriation of the aid money given to Somalia and funnelled through UNDP-Somalia. I recommend the UN Secretary General to appoint effective diplomats like Mr

Ahmed W Abdoulah to run the financial affairs of Somalia. I also urge the TFG to appoint effective and efficient counterparts to the UNDP-Somalia in order to safe guard the scarce resources they get from the international community.

Aden Yabarow E-

mail:ayabarow@yahoo.com

See the rest @ Somaliland Times

Mohammed Sulaymon Barre

The case of Mohammed Sulaymon Barre is being used by human rights groups to demonstrate why they believe the prison in Guantanamo bay is wrong-even if their efforts equip al Qaeda and others who want to destroy the West.

The article below illustrates this point.

-Shimron

Mohammed Sulaymon Barre is A Somliland Native, now 42 and college educated, and was working in Pakistan for the Dahabshiil Company, a financial transfer firm with agents in 34 countries including the U.S.,

He was allegedly taken from his home in the middle of the night by Pakistani authorities. Originally from Somalia, Barre fled civil war to Pakistan where he received the assistance of the UNH CR , [the UN Refugee Agency] in the early 1990’s.

He has been in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in a US prison for over 6 years.

The Center for Constitutional Rights has challenged his detention based on the recent supreme court decision.

[The CCR aledges that he wants to go back to Somaliland.]

The Rest @ The Center for Constitutional Rights

This will be an interesting case, since this will raise the visibility of the status of Somaliland's independence from greater Somalis. Dahabshiil was, and is still connected the the funding of the Mujaheddin (many of whom are al qaeda affiliates).

He was probably taken for his direct knowledge of Hawala Operations in general, and specifically for how Dahabshiil is a vehicle for funding both remittances and the expenses of Jihadis.

He could probably go right to work funding the Next-Caliphate efforts of al Qaeda and sympathetic Mujaheddin-which is why the US will fight to keep him from being released.

-Shimron

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Sunni and Shia Islamist Connection Rooted in Lebanon

Hussein al-Khalil first established Hizballah’s security apparatus in Bekka [9] during the summer of 1982, coordinating operations with Islamic AMAL before it was formally
subordinated to Hizballah under Hussein Musawi after 1984. [10] The Musawi and Hamadi clans became the core clans of the embryonic Hizballah organization, [11] and this structure magnified the difficulty for hostile services attempting to penetrate Hizballah.

It made the exercise akin to penetrating a family. Hizballah’s security apparatus reflected the configuration of Shi’a clans and Hizballah’s operational emphasis in each of Lebanon’s three distinct geographic regions of Shi’a dominance. The geographic regions themselves became subdivided into sectors, creating a compartmentalized operational environment. The Bekka region with the largest IRGC component was characterized by a focus on logistics and training. [12] The southern region of Lebanon had an operational emphasis on the confrontation with Israel, and the organizational focus in the Beirut region was primarily political. In all of the regions, the security apparatus focused initially on internal security, then on covert and military operations.

Hizballah developed multiple and overlapping security organs aimed at maintaining organizational integrity. Hizballah’s operational security requires a strict separation between Hizballah’s political and military wings. Consequently, the ability of Hizballah’s political wing to exercise administrative control over the military wing and its security organs is problematic.

Additionally, Hizballah is, at least in part, heavily influenced by Iran, which has created divisions over any external political and administrative control over the military and security components of the organization. Because the impetus for the creation of Hizballah was Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, administrative control over the Hizballah’s military and security components are divided between both the Hizballah political leadership and the Pasdaran Iran’s objectives were to further Shi’a Islamist revolution, while Syrian President Hafez al-Assad facilitated Pasdaran operations in the Bekka to immunize his troops in Lebanon against Shi'a militants.[13] Al-Assad’s support of both AMAL and the Hizballah was important because of the greater affinity of Assad’s Alawite tribe for the secularists of AMAL.

A common element across all of Hizballah’s security entities is their reliance on fighters drawn from the Shi’a communities throughout Lebanon. The initial model for Hizballah’s security services was Fatah’s Jihaz al-Razd and the AMAL security entity based loosely on it. [14] Because Hizballah is not a state, a basic intelligence dilemma that faces the organization is the problematic task of establishing and maintaining secure territory and secure facilities. The problem is ameliorated somewhat by using secure facilities in territories of friendly states like Iran. [15] Hizballah’s first security concern was necessarily a counterintelligence function [16] to maintain organizational integrity. Hizballah counterintelligence capabilities were influenced by the Pasdaran Quds and applied by Hizballah to local Lebanese circumstances in the context of Syrian occupied Lebanon. Hizballah has successfully executed both defensive and offensive counterintelligence operations. Successful defensive counterintelligence operations are documented as far back as the middle 1980s, when Imad Mugniyah disrupted United States operations involving Lebanese nationals working the Lebanese-Cyprus ferry lines. [17] By 1997, Hizballah counterintelligence could effectively use double agents to mislead the Israelis, successfully executing operations against 13 Israeli Shayetet naval commandos near Sidon, leaving 12 Israelis dead [18] The Hizballah kidnapping of Mossad operative Colonel Elhanan Tannenbaum in 2000 illustrates a more recent successful defensive counterintelligence operation. Tannenbaum had apparently tried to run a “false flag” operation against Hizballah from Europe by claiming to represent a European country. Hizballah lured Col. Tannenbaum to Beirut, where he was taken into custody by Hizballah security personnel. [19]
There are also several known instances of successful Hizballah offensive counterintelligence operations. Hizballah, for example, managed to compromise IDF Lieutenant Colonel Omar al-Heib, who traded surveillance data on IDF military installations for narcotics later distributed by al-Heib’s organization. The IDF believes that data compromised by Lt. Col. al-Heib allowed for successful Hizballah targeting of Mt. Meron [20] at the outset of the Israel-Hizballah war of 2006.[21] Recently, Hizballah successfully placed Nadia N. Prouty in the CIA. In a classic operation reminiscent of the U.S-Soviet Cold War, Prouty legally entered the U.S. and then gained citizenship through a sham marriage. She thereafter applied for work and successfully infiltrated the FBI and used that position to leverage a job at the CIA. [22]

Western services have also seen achievement. The defection of Abu al-Kassam Misbahi (Farhad, a co-founder of Iran’s VEVAK intelligence organ) in Germany during the middle 1990s [23] was a significant accomplishment. The 2007 defection in Ankara of General Ali Reza Ashgari [24] of Pasdaran Quds, who was instrumental in building Hizballah’s organization in Bekka during the early-middle 1980s, was also important. Most recently, the February 2008 assassination of Imad Mugniyah (Hajj Radwan), presumably by Mossad’s Kidon element, was a significant coup for Western intelligence. [25]

Hizballah’s intelligence collection abilities have improved over time as well. Israel’s occupation of southern Lebanon taught Hizballah the importance of tactical intelligence collection, precipitating Hizballah’s careful and ongoing effort to understand how the IDF conducted operations in southern Lebanon. Intelligence collected by Hizballah respecting IDF operational methods prior to the IDF withdrawal in 2000 paid off with the Hizballah victory in the 2006 war.

Hizballah covert operations are carried out using multiple descriptors for its security apparatus. Hizballah followed some early Fatah conventions wherein Fatah’s Jihaz al-Razd security entity operated using the Black September Organization moniker during the 1970s.

The creation of Hizballah in the summer of 1982 under IRGC guidance necessarily saw preliminary operations limited to the coalescence of Hizballah’s constituent entities under multiple names. Hizballah’s only opposition at that juncture were small scale actions aimed at controlling territory and organizing personnel with AMAL and other local militias. [26]

The security apparatus was then focused on a very narrow core of Hizballah operations, organized with fighters drawn primarily from the Hamadi and Musawi clans. These same fighters conducted operations using different organizational names.

The core functions were configured and nurtured by elements of the Bekka’s Pasdaran Qud’s [27] sustaining Hizballah’s Lebanese operations. The attack on the U.S. Embassy in the spring of 1983, and attacks on both the multinational forces and the Israeli intelligence center established in occupied Tyre in the fall of that year, were Hizballah’s first major operations against foreigners. These covert operations executed by the security apparatus initiated an operational pattern characterizing subsequent major events. The pattern was direct IRGC support in financing and logistics facilitated by Syrian non-interference [28] in Hizballah operations. During the middle 1980s, this pattern was followed by the security apparatus in its management of kidnapping operations directed against foreigners. [29]

As Lebanon became relatively more stable, the tasks of the security apparatus evolved to include security functions supporting Hizballah’s social and political operations as well as military operations. With Hizballah’s emergence as a political party representing the bulk of Lebanon’s Shi’a, the security apparatus accrued some functions analogous to an Interior Ministry. Police functions became necessary to maintain both the integrity of the party and Lebanon’s Shi’a body politic in territories controlled by Hizballah. Within this “domestic” side of the security apparatus was an entity Amad Hamzeh described as an “engagement and coordination unit” under the authority of Hajj Wafic Safa. [30] It eventually turned ordinary criminals threatening Hizballah persons or property over to Lebanon’s ostensive authorities. [31] The security apparatus thereby divided functionally between these police functions and functions supporting military and covert operations. Additionally, about two hundred Hizballah fighters operate in a preventive security apparatus under Mahmud Haidar (Abu Ali) in an executive protection role modeled on Fatah’s Force 17 that provides security for Hizballah politicians. Elements of the security apparatus also served as an asset for the IRGC Quds. Hizballah’s Unit 1800, for example, was established primarily to serve Iranian foreign policy goals by coordinating Hizballah assistance to multiple Sunni Palestinian Islamists organizations in the West Bank and Gaza.

The operational genesis was rooted in the deportation by Israel of four-hundred Hamas militants into southern Lebanon in 1992. Those Sunni Palestinian Islamists were housed and indoctrinated through the good offices of Hizballah. This allowed ties to be forged across the not so insignificant religious division between Shi’a and Sunni Islamists. The Sunni have historically seen the Shi’a as an illegitimate heretical sect, and much blood has been shed between the two main sects of Islam throughout the centuries over these religious disputes. In this instance, however, Israel’s role as a common enemy, superseded the two sect’s theological differences, and this coordination against Israel facilitated a rarely seen cooperation between the Sunni and Shi’a.

Conclusion

The security architecture created by the Hizballah organization reflects its development in Lebanon’s operational environment. The structure of the security apparatus was a function initially of the kinship patterns within the Hamadi and Musawi clans and their associated Islamist groups welded to a security architecture created by the Pasdaran Quds within Syrian and Israeli-occupied Lebanon. Additional Shi’a clans and families were incorporated into Hizballah as the organization expanded. Hizballah’s security architecture evolved with the reconstruction of Lebanon in the 1990s and the changing role of the Shi’a in Lebanese society. The emergence of a more developed and assertive Shi’a polity saw the expansion of the Hizballah security apparatus into a more nuanced and sophisticated organization even as relations between Hizballah and Iran strengthened.
The various Hizballah security entities interact today with external services which necessarily shape the configuration of Hizballah’s security apparatus at any given point in time. Hizballah’s fundamental intelligence challenge is filtering analysis through an Islamist veneer thereby degrading the analytical product. Hizballah has emphasized Hebrew language skills for some of its fighters, yet comprehending Hebrew is not the same thing as grasping Israeli thought. Archie Roosevelt [32] argued long ago that a lust for knowing which seeks understanding unclouded by worldview must animate the intelligence enterprise. Hizballah’s security apparatus must lust to know Israel even as it understands Hebrew. In a larger sense, the Hizballah security apparatus must create a raison d’être that goes beyond moribund dreams of a Lebanese Islamic Republic or its utility furthering Iran’s imperial ambitions. Hizballah’s security apparatus must affirm Shi’a political and social aspirations in Lebanon to survive.

Te Rest frpm Carl Anthony Wege

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Guinea-Bissau's Military Structure

BISSAU, June 25 (Reuters) - Imagine an army with more officers than soldiers, a penchant for coups and for meddling in politics, but no tanks or planes to defend the nation.

These are Guinea-Bissau's armed forces, the remnants of a once proud guerrilla army which won the small West African state independence from Portugal in 1974 after a bush war.

Since then, the army has tarnished its image with a series of bloody coups and mutinies, a fratricidal 1998-1999 civil war, and a 2004 revolt that killed the army chief.

Foreign donors are worried that senior members of the armed forces are now collaborating with Colombian cocaine cartels which use the small coastal nation -- one of the poorest countries in the world -- as a transit hub for drug shipments. .....

.......A U.N.-funded census of the forces threw up some astonishing figures:
  • Of nearly 4,500 members registered, more than 3,000 were officers, 1,800 of them holding the rank of major or above.
  • Of the 4,500, only six were younger than 20, and there must be hundreds older than 60 ... it's an old army and it has no plain soldiers," said Verastegui, adding that its ranks were bloated by veterans from the 1963-1974 independence war.
  • The army fought dissident Senegalese Casamance separatists on its northern border only two years ago, but Verastegui said there were "more people sitting at home than under arms".
  • "It's an army where the soldiers aren't in the barracks, where the real reason for wearing a uniform is ... to have a meal and a pension," said the Spanish army general, a 56-year-old artillery and aviation specialist.

The restructuring plan, for which the government has estimated a $184 million bill it hopes foreign donors will pay, aims to reduce the armed forces to only 2,500 members. The same plan will overhaul the police and judiciary.

Adding urgency to the security reform, Guinea-Bissau is scheduled to hold a parliamentary election in November and international observers and local politicians are hoping the military will not be tempted to interfere in the vote.

Verastegui said his overtures to win the confidence of military chiefs, including the armed forces head General Batista Tagme Na Wai, had encountered some suspicion.

"They don't really understand why we're here, they think we've come to tell them what to do," he said. He said Vieira's government and military commanders must decide what kind of army they want.

  • Soldiers laid off would also need livelihoods and dignity to avoid storing up future trouble.
    As it stands, the top-heavy Guinea-Bissau military would be hard pressed to protect its land frontiers or jagged coastline, which U.N. anti-narcotics experts say are being constantly penetrated by drug-traffickers' planes and boats.
  • "How many vehicles do the frontier police have?
  • None.
  • How many aircraft does the country have for border control?
  • None.
  • Boats? There are one or two -- but they'd have trouble getting them onto the water," Verastegui said.

"An army which sits in the barracks thinking about things that it shouldn't, will end up doing them."

The Rest @alertnet.com

Head OF UN Security in Algeria Resigns

In Algiers Bombing Fall-Out, Veness Resigns, But Confidential Report Points Further

UNITED NATIONS, June 24 -- More than six months after the deadly bombing of UN premises in Algiers, the UN on Tuesday released a redacted version of its follow-up report, and announced the resignation of its head of security, David Veness. The initial report is now online here, analyzed here and below. Even the redacted report issued by the UN raises questions of accountability. It states for example "the Designated Official was neither forceful nor persistent with the Algerian authorities to insist on the security measures requested of the Government." (Page 25).

This Designated Officer was, in fact, an official of the UN Development Program, Marc de Bernis. As is so often the case with UNDP, de Bernis not only didn't press the host country government in any way -- he allowed himself and the UN system safety issues to be marginalized. The UN-release report states:

"As noted in the preliminary DSS report on the 11 December 2007 attack, all contact by the UN Designated Official for Security (DO) and the Security Adviser (SA) with the national security authorities occurred through the Director General for Protocol (DGP) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). This restricted contact with security agencies was not limited to the UN; diplomatic missions in Algiers also conduct their security relations through the DGP/MFA. This is the practice in a number of other countries."

Having access to the preliminary DSS report, we find in paragraph 7 that there was an exception, for "large embassies." Why didn't the UN, with multiple agencies represented in Algeria, get for itself as much access as large embassies of its member states?

The Rest @ Innercity Press
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

MNJ Claims to hold 4 AREVA Executives at Bases Attacked by Helecopter Gunship

On the their website Yesterday, Tuesday, 23/6, The MNJ claims to have been attacked.

The MNJ claims that it holds Four (4) AREVA executives, and that recent attacks by government gunships put them at risk, along with other prisoners of war.

This is possible, but could be simply a ploy to stop attacks that appear to have unnerved them.

-Shimron

English Transation (via google) from French

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Venezuela-based HezbollahSanctioned by OFAC

This Venezuelan connectionnection to Hezballah is important to Africa, because the travel agency connections may facilitate fund rasing travel in West Africa, among other places. I wonder if FARC-Hezbollah connections occur in Venezuela...

The Followings was Posted on the Office of Foreign Asset Control (US Treasy Department) web site:

June 18, 2008
hp-1036

Treasury Targets Hizballah in Venezuela

Washington - The U.S. Department of the Treasury today designated two Venezuela-based supporters of Hizballah, Ghazi Nasr al Din and Fawzi Kan'an, along with two travel agencies owned and controlled by Kan'an.

"It is extremely troubling to see the Government of Venezuela employing and providing safe harbor to Hizballah facilitators and fundraisers. We will continue to expose the global nature of Hizballah's terrorist support network, and we call on responsible governments worldwide to disrupt and dismantle this activity," said Adam J. Szubin, Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

Today's action was taken pursuant to Executive Order 13224, which targets terrorists, those owned or controlled by or acting for or on behalf of terrorists, and those providing financial, technological, or material support to terrorists or acts of terrorism. Assets the designees hold under U.S. jurisdiction are frozen and U.S. persons are prohibited from engaging in transactions in property or interests in property blocked under the order.

Identifying Information

GHAZI NASR AL DIN

  • Ghazi Nasr al Din is a Venezuela-based Hizballah supporter who has utilized his position as a Venezuelan diplomat and the president of a Caracas-based Shi'a Islamic Center to provide financial support to Hizballah.
  • Nasr al Din served until recently as Charge d' Affaires at the Venezuelan Embassy in Damascus, Syria, and was subsequently appointed the Director of Political Aspects at the Venezuelan Embassy in Lebanon.
  • Nasr al Din has counseled Hizballah donors on fundraising efforts and has provided donors with specific information on bank accounts where the donors' deposits would go directly to Hizballah.
  • Ghazi Nasr al Din has met with senior Hizballah officials in Lebanon to discuss operational issues, as well as facilitated the travel of Hizballah members to and from Venezuela.
  • In late January 2006, Nasr al Din facilitated the travel of two Hizballah representatives to the Lebanese Parliament to Caracas to solicit donations for Hizballah and to announce the opening of a Hizballah-sponsored community center and office in Venezuela.
  • The previous year, Nasr al Din arranged the travel of Hizballah members to attend a training course in Iran.

    AKAs: Haj Ghazi Nasseredine
    Ghazi Nassereddine
    Gazi Nasseridine
    Gazi Nasser El-Din
    Ghazil Nasser Al-Din
    Haj Ghazzi Nassereddine
    Ghassan Attef Salame Nasserddine
    Ghassan Nasr El Din Ghassan
    Ghazi Nasserddine
    Ghazi `Atef Nasraldine
    Atef Salameh Nasserdine Ghasan
    Hajj Ghazi `Atif Nasr al-Din
  • Venezuelan Cedula: 18.190.527
    Venezuelan Passport: B-0472561
    DOB: 13DEC 1962
    POB: Lebanon

FAWZI KAN'AN

  • Fawzi Kan'an is a Venezuela-based Hizballah supporter and a significant provider of financial support to Hizballah.
  • Kan'an has facilitated travel for Hizballah members and sent money raised in Venezuela to Hizballah officials in Lebanon.
  • Kan'an has met with senior Hizballah officials in Lebanon to discuss operational issues, including possible kidnappings and terrorist attacks. Further, Kan'an has also traveled with other Hizballah members to Iran for training.

    AKAs:
    Fazi Canaan
    Faouzi Can'an
    Fouzi Kanan
    Fauzi Kanaan
    Fawzi Kan'an
    Fauzi Ganan
    Maustaf Fawzi (Faouzi) Kanaan

    DOB1:
    7 June 1943
    DOB 2:
    February 1943
    DOB3:
    l June l943
    POB 1:
    Lebanon

    POB 2:
    Baalbeck, Lebanon

    POB 3:
    Betechelida, Lebanon

    Passport no:
    0877677

    Nationality:
    Venezuelan (Naturalized)

    Naturalization no.:
    2108, 16 December 1977

    Identification no:
    V-6.919.272

    Residence 1:
    Calle 2, Residencias Cosmos, Fifth Floor, Apartment 5D,
    La Urbina Caracas, Venezuela

    Residence 2:
    Esquina Bucare, Building 703, Second Floor, Apartment 20
    Caracas, Venezuela

    BIBLOS TRAVEL AGENCY

    Biblos Travel Agency is a Venezuela-based travel agency owned and operated by Fawzi Kan'an, which he has used to courier funds to Lebanon.

    AKAs:
    Biblios Travel
    Biblos Travel CA
    Biblos Travel, C.A.

    Location:
    Avenida Baralt, Esquina Maderero, Edificio Santa Isabel II,
    PB, Loc. 1 Caracas, Venezuela

    HILAL TRAVEL AGENCY

    Formed in April 2001, Hilal Travel Agency is a Venezuela-based travel agency owned and operated by Fawzi Kan'an.

    AKAs:
    Hilal Travel C.A.

    Address:
    Avenida Baralt, Esquina Maderero, Edificio Santa Isabel
    Caracas, Venezuela

    Business ID no.:
    80074366

Overview of Resistance Groups in Somalia

The Following is an excerpt from an article posted on 21 June, 2008 by Dr. Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis
who writes generally anti-american, pro-islamist and pro-next calpihate analysis. He seems to have good connections to pro-al Aqaeda sources, so what he writes in this article is of interest.
What follows is an executive summary of of his points, with a link to the full, rather academic article.

-Shimron

The agendas, leadership, interconnections, and sources of support received by the various armed groups operating in Somali Region are often unclear.

However, they can be distinguished in two significant ways:
  • Whether they are Ogaadeeni [Ogaden is an ehtnically Somali region in Eastern Ethiopia contiguous with the Somali border] or Somali nationalists,
  • Whether there is a militant Islamist component to their agenda. The aims and tactics of the various groups are diverse.
The major armed group currently fighting the Ethiopian government in Somali Region is the ONLF.
  • Although it often claims to represent Ethiopian Somalis across clan lines, the ONLF remains essentially an Ogaadeeni sub-clan-based insurgency, operating largely in the zones inhabited by the Rer Abdalle sub-clan of the Mohammed Zubeir.
  • Many Ethiopian Somalis concerned by the historical marginalization of Somali Region by successive Ethiopian governments and the role of the Ethiopian security forces do not necessarily support the ONLF.
  • Even among Ogaadeeni sub-clans there is varying support for the group and diverse views on the ONLF's role, strategy, and tactics.
  • The Ogaadeeni clan's relations with other clans in Somali Region are further complicated by competition over resources, a cause of friction that has become worse in recent years due to increasing cycles of drought, environmental degradation, and the increasing number of pastoralists shifting to agro-pastoralism.
  • In the past decade there have been serious inter-clan clashes over territory and political competition that have displaced thousands of people.
  • The ONLF's current goals are murky. Although ONLF statements seem to espouse Ogaadeeni—rather than Somali—self-determination, for instance by referring to or calling for "Ogadenia," it is unclear whether the ONLF seeks secession from the Ethiopian state or simply greater regional autonomy.
  • In reality, the ONLF primarily thrives on anti-Ethiopian sentiments and grievances more than any stated policy objective.
  • The ONLF operates as a rurally-based guerilla force consisting mostly of small units (20-30 fighters) assigned to different zones.
  • Its units, domestically called "anti-peace elements" by the Ethiopian government, are constantly on the move.
  • ONLF fighters regularly interact with civilians, particularly pastoralists in the area frequented by the ONLF, and obtain food and water in the countryside and from a network of civilian supporters in the towns and villages.
  • According to credible sources, senior regional and security officials met in Jijiga after the Gogle attacks. Those present included Prime Minister Meles' senior advisor on security, Abbay Tsehaye, and army chief of staff General "Samora" Yunes, as well as the military commander from Harar. They are reported to have identified the most important sources of ONLF support as:

-) rural villagers and communities;

-)commercial traffic of khat (a mild narcotic grown in the area) and other trade items;

-) humanitarian aid

-) local businessmen.

The abuses uncovered by Human Rights Watch appear directly or indirectly connected to measures targeting each of these alleged sources of support.

  • The ONLF has repeatedly sought to distance itself from some of the more militant Islamist groups operating in the region, particularly in the context of growing US and Ethiopian concerns over individuals and groups with alleged links to al Qaeda operating in neighboring Somalia.

Little is known about the precise agenda and size of a second armed opposition group, the United Western Somali Liberation Front (UWSLF), which surfaced in 2006 and briefly took two aid workers hostage. However, their public statements suggest an Islamist and Somali nationalist agenda, in contrast to the essentially Ogaadeeni clan-based agenda of the ONLF.

  • The UWSLF may draw support from the remnants of the militant Islamist group known as al-Itihaad al-Islaami ee Soomaaliya Galbeed (the Islamic Union of Western Somalia), which began to operate in the Somali Region by 1991.
  • An Ethiopian military offensive in 1996 reportedly destroyed most of al-Itihaad's military capacity in both eastern Ethiopia and southwestern Somalia. Al-Itihaad claimed responsibility for several grenade attacks and bombings in 1995 and 1996, including in Addis Ababa, which killed and wounded dozens of people.
  • After September 11, 2001, al-Itihaad was placed on a US list of organizations and individuals designated for asset freezes due to terrorist links.
  • The Somalia and Eritrea ConnectionsIn 2006 the situation in Somali Region was exacerbated once again by events in neighboring Somalia.
  • In June 2006 an alliance of Islamic courts (Islamic Courts Union, ICU) drove the Somali warlords out of Mogadishu, where they had ruled under a reign of violence.
  • Led by Sheikh Aweys of al-Itihaad, the ICU's ascendance stoked fears in both Addis Ababa and Washington of spreading Islamist extremism and revived militant Somali nationalism.

The presence in Mogadishu of individuals with alleged links to al Qaeda and the 1998 East Africa embassy bombings did little to quell rising concern. With border tensions with Eritrea still unresolved, Ethiopia was further provoked by allegations of Eritrean support to the ICU, the ONLF, and other Ethiopian insurgent movements.

In December 2006, following the passage of UN Security Council resolution 1725 authorizing an African Union intervention in Somalia, Ethiopian forces backed the weak Somali Transitional Federal Government in an offensive to oust the ICU and establish the TFG in power in Mogadishu. While the Ethiopian and TFG forces were initially successful in overthrowing the ICU, a coalition of insurgent groups soon started to launch attacks on the Ethiopian forces and the TFG in Somalia.

Since the December 2006 ouster of the Islamic Courts Union from Mogadishu, the al-Shabaab military wing of the Islamic Courts is reported to have tried to establish a presence in Somali Region.

The relations between the ONLF and militant Islamist groups such as al-Itihaad and al-Shabaab are unclear. Although the Ethiopian government routinely claims they are connected, there are credible reports that the ONLF and al-Shabaab clashed in Somali Region in late 2007.

Eritrea's Role

What is established, however, is that many of these groups—and other Ethiopian insurgent groups such as the Oromo Liberation front (OLF)—have received support from Ethiopia's arch rival, Eritrea.

  • Both the ONLF and OLF established a presence in Eritrea during the Ethiopian-Eritrean war of 1998-2000, and received training as well as logistical and military support.
  • Eritrea continues to host the leaders of both insurgent movements and leaders of the Islamic Courts Union in Somalia, and the ONLF and OLF also had a presence in Mogadishu in 2006.
  • The Eritrean factor and concerns over its support to the various Ethiopian insurgent groups were one of the key underlying reasons for Ethiopia's intervention in Somalia in support of the Somali transitional government in 2006.

Escalation in 2007

It is no coincidence that Ethiopia's intervention in Somalia coincided with a serious escalation in the conflict in Somali Region. Beginning in early 2007, the ONLF increased its targeting of representatives of the regional and local administrations in Somali Region, as well as military convoys.

  • In January 2007 ONLF rebels attacked Garbo wereda in Fiiq zone, killing five local officials who refused to hand over heavy weapons to the rebels.
  • A week later, the ONLF attacked Gunagada police station in Dhagahbur zone. Twenty-five people were killed in the attack, including the local head of security, Sa'ad Aw Siyad.
  • The ONLF also abducted a number of officials, including the police commissioner, Bedel Abdi Nor, who according to released detainees was later executed.
  • In April 2007 they attacked the Chinese-run Obole oil installation
  • In May 2007 they conducted a grenade attack on the regional president, Abdullahi Hassan, in Somali Region's capital, Jijiga, which killed five people and injured dozens including Hassan. This provoked an escalated response.
  • The Obole attack came just as Ethiopian forces in Mogadishu were involved in fierce fighting with Somali insurgents.

From June to September 2007, Somalia's counterinsurgency campaign appears to have been at its peak. This period was characterized by systematic and intensive efforts by Ethiopian forces to relocate, terrorize, and punish communities in areas of ONLF operation or perceived to support the insurgency, using various abusive strategies.

From September 2007 the Ethiopian government's strategy appears to have shifted from the direct use of military forces to increased forced recruitment and deployment of local militia forces. The almost total obstruction of humanitarian aid that was implemented in mid-2007 was slightly relaxed, perhaps due to growing international pressure, although humanitarian operations remained tightly controlled. Reports of village burnings and relocations have diminished in 2008.

Much more detail @ American Chronicle

Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aways to Replace Sharif Sheikh Ahmed?


ASMARA, Eritrea June 21 (Garowe Online) - An Islamist hardliner has said that he will rise to become chairman of the opposition Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS), a Somali opposition group founded in Eritrea last year. (Picture - Garowe Online)


Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, designated a terrorist by the U.S. government, told Arabic newspaper Asharq al Awsat that he will replace current ARS Chairman Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.




He accused Sheikh Sharif of being "too close the U.S. government," starting in January 2007 when Sheikh Sharif was apprehended by Kenyan police and later questioned by American officials at a hotel in Nairobi.


Sheikh AweysAccording to Sheikh Aweys, the current chairman of the ARS "violated" the opposition alliance's bylaws when he signed a peace pact with the Somali government on June 9th.

ARS members in the Eritrean capital of Asmara will convene in July to hold a meeting, where Sheikh Aweys is expected to be nominated to lead the opposition.


Sheikh Aweys, ARS defense secretary Yusuf Indha Ade and al Shabaab militants have all refused to recognize the June 9 agreement and vowed to continue the insurgency until Ethiopian troops leave Somali soil.

Sheikh Sharif and Sheikh Aweys were the leaders of the Islamic Courts movement, who ruled much of south-central Somalia in 2006 until being ousted by Ethiopian troops


The Conflict in Africa's Horn moving into Kenya?

By Daniel Ooko

NAIROBI: After pushing for African forces to be deployed in support of Somalia’s transitional government, Kenya is having second thoughts about a possible showdown in neighbouring Somalia.

  • A growing number of politicians and analysts fear a new war in Somalia could trigger hostilities against a badly-prepared Kenya, and turn it into a second battlefield of the Eritrea-Ethiopia conflict.
  • With Washington hostile towards the Mogadishu Islamists – some of whose members are reported to be close to Al Qaeda - the Horn of Africa may be set to become the next theatre in the US-led ‘war against terror’.
  • Speaking about the Somali conflict, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has noted that any potential partner of the US could not “allow terrorists in your midst”. However, she said, “anyone who is willing to fight terrorism” in Somalia could expect Washington’s support.

There are fears that the Al Qaeda cells in Somalia plan to retaliate for the killing of Al-Shabaab leader Sheikh Aden Hashi Ayro on May 1 in a US air strike, by staging attacks on American interests in Kenya, according to an anti-terrorism officer familiar with the details of the threat.

  • Al-Shabaab is classified by the US as a terrorist organisation.
  • The May 1 attack, which Washington has described as a major blow against an insurgency that has raged since 2007, was the fifth US air strike in Somalia since the beginning of 2007.
  • On March 3 this year, the US Navy fired two Tomahawk missiles from a submarine off the coast of Somalia at Dobley, in southern Somalia, killing several people, including at least three women and three children and wounding another 20.
  • Ayro, trained in terrorist and insurgency methods in Afghanistan and believed to have been in his 30s, was killed in a house in the small central Somalia town Dusamareb, 250 miles north of Mogadishu, together with another five insurgents, including his brother and another commander, Muhiyadin Mohamed. At least a dozen civilians in neighbuoring houses were also killed by the missiles.
  • The missile strikes were carried out in advance of a UN-sponsored meeting in Djibouti, at which TFG officials and Islamic leaders were negotiating a possible truce. Regional security analysts rank Somalia as a ‘secondary front’ in the war against terrorism. They say that the country’s profile was raised greatly following the Ethiopian invasion and the subsequent US air strikes.
  • Al-Shabaab’s spokesman, Sheikh Mukhtar Robow, has vowed the group will retaliate.
    “We will target all Americans irrespective of who they are, because the American government is killing all our people,” Robow told The Media Line.
  • Our leader Aden Hashi Ayro is a hero. Ayro’s killing by the Americans will not deter fighters of Al-Shabaab from stepping up their battle. The infidel and their cohorts will pay dearly for their deadly act...We shall avenge the death of our leader,” he said. Several months before Ayro’s killing, the group intensified its daily attacks on Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG), which is backed by Ethiopian army soldiers, taking control of substantial territories in central and southern Somalia.
  • Analysts said Al-Shabaab’s aim was to destabilise the Ethiopian forces by increasing the chaos in central and southern Somalia, thus drawing off forces from the capital. It is also aiming to increase insecurity to the point that the population will call on the Islamists to save it.
  • But with the killing of Ayro, it is possible Al-Shabaab may either stage quick and violent revenge attacks or make a tactical withdrawal to plan their next move.
  • A Kenyan anti-terrorism official told The Media Line the May 1 operation succeeded after some Al-Shabaab members fell out and passed information to the Americans.

Kenya and the US have been sharing anti-terrorism intelligence especially since the August 7, 1998 bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi and the Kikambala Hotel in November 2002. Their joint efforts have led to successful operations against Al Qaeda cells in Somalia.

  • According to Kenyan officials, the anti-terrorism unit is concerned the group may launch revenge attacks against Kenya following the killing of its leader. This has led to the beefing up of security along the Kenya-Somalia border, the officials say.
  • “We are very much prepared to avert these attacks. We have intelligence information that the terror groups are regrouping for possible attacks,” said an anti-terrorism police officer, who declined to be named.
  • Two Kenyans and two Britons were killed in Somalia in mid-April when insurgents carried out a raid on a school in central Somalia.

The move by the Kenyan defence forces to increase security comes only days after the US said, in a global counter-terrorism survey, that the country lacked the laws needed to wage an effective war on terrorism.

The Rest @ Gulf Times

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Mohammed Taqi Usmani

Mohammed Taqi Usmani is a person of interest, since he is A Sharia Jurist, a person who makes decisions about what is an appropriate use of ZAKAT Funds, among other things. These funds can be used to support the expenses of Jihad, if a Sharia jurist things its is appropriate.

The following excerpt from the Sharia Finance Watch Blog covers this in much more detail.

-Shimron

Mohammed Taqi Usmani. Usmani is a Pakistani Sharia jurist who was formerly head of the Jihadist Deobandism sect that spawned the Taliban.

Usmani, is the author of a tract entitled, “Islam and Modernism” states that “the killings must go on”.
  • typically Shariah compliant funds or investments devote 3 to 5% of income to Muslim charities or Zakat.
  • it can easily reach between 7 to 8%, if authorized by the Sharia governing boards. That increased allotment could be tied cynically to Shariah approval of a so-called ‘purification’ process to ‘launder’ interest payments.
  • That means that there is an indeterminate flow of Islamic charity funds to possible Islamist terrorist front groups.
  • Stavis opined that neither the HIFP, nor the HILSP offered any ‘due diligence services’ to unwary investment banks endeavoring to complete Shariah compliant funding deals.

Given the track record of Wall Street on the subprime debacle, that shouldn’t surprise us.

Stavis and I commiserated about some of the large investments in Sharia REITS that have made corporate property acquisitions including the GM Building in Manhattan.......

..... Ehrenfeld said: “Whatever Muslims buy, they buy “in trust for Allah.” Once it belongs to Allah, it doesn’t matter who they sell it to, because they can always claim it as a Muslim property.”

The Rest @ Sharia Finance Watch

MNJ Threatens Senses Takers

The MNJ is threatening s new sensus being undertaken by the Niger government. This Pas posted on 21/6 in a threat : "We forbid any movement in the cities and towns under our control. The folowing is a translated quote from their website.

-Shimron

"The government of Niger has launched a pseudo revision of the electoral register.

  • This is an attempt to force a passage in order to minimize the current problem of our country.
  • We wish to emphasize strongly that the time is not that and that people, especially those areas that we control, are not in this frame of mind.
  • That is why, and above all to avoid a sham census which does not reflect reality on the ground, we forbid any movement in the cities and towns and areas under our control.
  • Also, any team or mission of the so-called census that tries to violate this development must know that it is exposed to incalculable risks which it will assume its own full responsibility."

AQIM trying to Kill It's Former Members

ALGIERS, Algeria, June 20 (UPI) -- Militant operatives who surrendered to Algerian authorities as part of an amnesty deal should be killed, an al-Qaida official said.

The Med Basin News Line said Friday that, according to sources, Abdul Malek Droukdel, chief of the al-Qaida Organization in the Islamic Maghreb, is concerned about information the al-Qaida operatives could give Algerian authorities.

  • The sources told Med Basin that Droukdel has put together a team of assassins whose mission is to kill the operatives.
  • Algerian authorities have detected threats to some former senior AQIM members," one of the sources said.
  • The amnesty deal was offered by Algerian President Abdul Aziz Bouteflika, and scores of alleged al-Qaida operatives took advantage of the temporary agreement.
  • The unidentified sources said Algerian officials have already received information about militant plots from some of the operatives.
  • Droukdel has demanded that all remaining AQIM members renew their oaths of loyalty to the organization, the sources told the news group.

The Rest @ UPI

Libyan Islamic Fighting Group update

Libyan Islamic Fighting GroupFIG noun a Libyan terrorist group organized in 1995 and aligned with al-Qaeda; seeks to radicalize the Libyan government; attempted to assassinate
Qaddafi.
  • The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group` (LIFG) also known as `Al-Jama`a al-Islamiyyah al-Muqatilah bi-Libya` is the most powerful radical faction waging `Jihad` against Colonel Moammar al-Qadhafi.
  • Shortly after the 9-11 attacks, LIFG was banned worldwide (as an affiliate of al-Qaeda) by the UN 1267 Committee.
  • On 7 February 2006 the UN embargoed five specific LIFG members and four corporations, all of whom had continued to operate in England

The Rest @ Encyclo

  • In June 2007, The U.S. Department of the Treasury designated three Libyan individuals who are members of both al Qaida and the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) pursuant to Executive Order 13224
  • Many members have fled to various Middle Eastern and European countries.
  • The group obtains some funding through private donations, various Islamic non-governmental organizations, and criminal acts.
  • Some members maintain a strictly anti-Qadhafi focus and organize against Libyan Government interests, but others are aligned with Usama Bin Ladin’s al-Qaida organization.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of the Sahara (FARS) Threatens China Oil and Gas exploration and development Corporation (CNODC)

The MNJ (Niger Movement for Justice) websight has posted a threat from the The Revolutionary Armed Forces of the Sahara (FARS).

See the following English Translation of a 6 June Post in French.

-Shimron

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of the Sahara (FARS) have learnt with dismay the recent signing of the agreement, oil field exploitation of Agadem between Niger and the Chinese firm China Oil and Gas exploration and development Corporation (CNODC).

Also, we wish to warn the Chinese company against any exploitation in this period of insecurity, Agadem block.

In addition, we reject most vigorously installation of a refinery in Zinder instead localities as N'Guigmi and Diffa.

We hold the government of Niger and CNODC responsible for everything that happens after the non-compliance with this caveat.

Signed Bocar Mohamed SOUGOUMA President P / I of FARS

Sunday, June 08, 2008

LAAICO To Build North African Fertilizer Plants- Remember the OKC Bombing?

LAAICO just signed a deal with the Morocco to Build Chemical and Fertilizer Plants. These Chemicals and Fertilizers are important for Food production, but are also components used by Timothy McVey in the Oklahoma City, US Federal Building Bombing.

Due to AQIM Activities in Libya, Tunisia, Morocco, Mali, Niger, Algeria,Mauritania, Chad, etc, These plans bear watching.

-Shimron


LAAICO, Libyan's investment arm in Africa, unveils Moroccan - 05 June 2008
05-06-2008 - LIBYA, MOROCCO
Source : Ansamed
Country from : Libya, Morocco
Activity : Chemistry, plasturgy, fertilizers.
LIBYA-MOROCCO PLAN USD 1 BILLION FERTILISER JOINT VENTURE

By ANSAmed

Libyan's investment arm in Africa, Libya-Africa Investment Portfolio, has signed a memorandum of understanding with Moroccòs Office Cherifien de Phosphate (OCP) for the Moroccan company to build three fertiliser plants worth USD 1 billion.

OPC said that a first plant would produce 1 million tonnes of phospheric acid per year, with investment of $350 million, and a second plant to produce 800,000 tonnes of ammonia would cost $500 million. A third unit, with an annual capacity of 1 million of fertiliser, will cost $150 million.

  • OPC gave no dates when the plants would be built, Tripoli Post online reports.
  • An official close to the deal has been reported saying that the acid unit would be based in Morocco,
  • the ammonia to be built in Libya and the fertiliser plant location has yet to be decided whether it would be built in Libya or Morocco.

In February, OCP invited non-Moroccan investors to set up plants to help Morocco expand its fertiliser and chemical business. OCP, with an annual output of 27.25 million tonnes of raw phosphate, has 43.5 percent of the world's phosphate market, 47.2 percent of the phosphoric acid market and 9.5 percent of fertiliser output, according to the company.

The Rest @ Animaweb

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Portrait of Hezbollah Reverese Money Laundering Scheme in Africa

A Zakat Fund committee from a very Large Dubai based Bank issues A Credit Line to an account in a Western Bank.

Small local Shiite-0wned businesses buy cars (Mostly Honda, Toyota and Nissan) at Auction in the Suburbs of Dallas, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Mobile, New Orleans and Phoenix.

The credit line, which originated in the Zakat Fund, is used to pay off the credit cards used by the Shiite business men to buy the auctioned cars.

Using non-Shia owned import/export companies, They sell the cars at a profit to Lebanese businessmen in West Africa, who:
  • Sell the cars to markets in places like Nigeria, Sierra Leon, Liberia, Ghana, Algeria, Morocco, etc.
  • Some vehicles are traded for other cars which are in turn made available to Jihadis
  • Hezbollah Tax collectors, which make regular cash collections in Africa, take the cash to Iranian-based banks in Venezuela, Lebanon, and Syria.

These funds are used to Fund Terror activities around the world...

Check out who is buying lots of auctioned cars in places like Marietta Georgi and Lewisville Texas.

-Shimron

Kenya Somali Border heats up

Word is that Islamic Associations in Ethnic Somali areas are recruiting for Somali Jijad, as well as forming, training and equipping Militias. Al Qaeda is funding these actions, even as Kenya and their Friends patorl the borders with Thermal imaging 24 hours a day.

-Shimron

note this related story:

War planes and military helicopters continued also today to fly at low altitude over some areas of South Somalia’s Lower Juba province along the border with Kenya.

According to local sources the overflights began yesterday and continued throughout this morning, causing tension among residents of the villages of the area and particularly in the areas of Dadajabula and Doblai, where many stores remained closed today.

Reports circulating in the media indicate that they are Kenyan military jets and helicopters.

In the past days, unidentified gunmen attacked a Kenyan border police post, seizing weapons and a military vehicle. The provincial commissioner of Kenya's Northeastern Province, according to the Somali press, demanded the immediate return of the arms and vehicle, threatening unspecified “measures”.

Elders of both Kenyan and Somali local communities are mediating with the armed group for the return of the stolen material.

-Africa News Analysis

Shabaab & Robow's New Blog


  1. WordPress hosting
  2. In Somali
  3. Earliest post 1 May 2008
  4. Robow pictures dominate
  5. A couple of Graphic pictures

Barawecity

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Somalia Peace Conference in Djibouti-update

Somalia groups want UN sanctions on warmongers

Published: Wednesday, 4 June, 2008, 01:57 AM Doha Time

DJIBOUTI: Somali civil groups yesterday urged the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on political leaders opposed to peace talks and to call for the withdrawal of Ethiopian forces backing the interim government.

The Somali government had said it hoped for a peace deal after members of the 15-nation Council met separately with its officials and opposition critics on Monday in Djibouti.

But leaders of the Islamist Al Shabaab insurgent group and more hardline elements of the Eritrea-based Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) were absent.

The opposition figures who did attend demanded Ethiopian forces leave Somalia.In a statement released as Security Council members left for Sudan and the next leg of an African tour, nine Somali groups representing rights activists, women and elders lamented the “graveyards of missed and lost opportunities” in Somali history.

“The Security Council should impose targeted sanctions against any Somali leaders who are fomenting further violence and reject the Somali peace process,” it said.The group said Council members should also ask for the withdrawal of Ethiopian soldiers who helped the government oust an Islamist movement from the capital Mogadishu in late 2006.Since then, the Shabaab - remnants of that Shariah courts movement - have waged an insurgency of ambushes, roadside bombs and mortar attacks, sometimes briefly seizing smaller towns.

In March, Washington formally designated the militia as a foreign terrorist organisation, describing it as Al Qaeda’s main link in the Horn of Africa nation. Meanwhile, a prominent trader who had been instrumental in initiating a security scheme aimed at curbing violence in Mogadishu’s main commercial district was gunned down yesterday, witnesses said.Mogadishu traders committee spokesman Abas Mohamed Duale was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in the capital’s southern Debke neighbourhood.

“I saw three men intercepting the spokesman’s car. They sprayed gunfire on the vehicle, leaving him dead and his driver badly wounded,” said eyewitness Husein Mohamed.“We are very upset because we lost a man who was very important for the business community in Mogadishu,” said Ali Mohamed Siad, chairman of the capital’s Bakara market.Bakara market is Mogadishu’s main commercial hub and had been ravaged by daily clashes between Islamist insurgents and Ethiopian-backed Somali government forces since 2007.

An initiative was launched earlier this year whereby Bakara traders were allowed to take charge of their own security, with a pledge from the government to stop raids so long as insurgents were also kept at bay.The murdered Abas was a key figure in the implementation of the measure, which received support from Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein but met with some resistance from other key officials, including President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed.

The scheme had so far been relatively successful in restoring some stability to the Bakara area, where much of the Horn of Africa nation’s trading is done. Meanwhile, gunmen holding a Dutch-owned ship off northern Somalia yesterday demanded a $1.1mn ransom for the vessel, a day after the UN Security Council gave countries the right to combat piracy off the coast.The MV Amiya Scan, managed by the Dutch Reider Shipping BV, was hijacked by Somali pirates on May 25 as it made its way to Romania from the Kenyan port city of Mombassa.

“The pirates holding the Dutch ship demand a ransom of $ 1.1mn while the owners say they are willing to pay $700,000,” said a close ally of the pirates who gave his name only as Abdullahi. The company was not immediately available to comment.“Negotiations are ongoing and the crew are in good health,” Abdullahi added about the nine Russians and Filipinos.Abdullahi said he took food and other goods to the gunmen who were holed up in Eyl, a fishing town along the Indian Ocean.

The Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution on Monday authorising some countries to conduct anti-piracy actions in Somali waters after a surge in hijackings.Some Somali residents praised the resolution.“I think it is not an easy task to eradicate pirates from Somali waters, but Western countries can do a lot about it if they mean what they say,” said Abdi Naeem Olad, a 40-year-old Mogadishu resident. But others were sceptical that the resolution would have an impact on piracy that has made that section of the Indian Ocean one of the world’s most dangerous waterways.“If they can really stop the piracy it will be good. But I don’t think they can. That’s mere talk,” said Abdirizak Ali Ismail, a resident of the northern port city of Bosasso. – Agencies

The Rest @ Gulf Times (Doha)