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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ria Novosti Reveals Viktor Bout & Russia's next Legal Moves

Ria Novosti, a public relations mouth piece for Russian Government Propaganda and its leaders, recently published the following article in it's English Language Online journal.

The helpful article reveals the next tactics Bout's lawyers may use:
  • They have managed to get testimony by US businessman and former Bout Associate Richard Chichakli admitted to the record. Chichakli, now living under Russian protection in Moscow tells a horror story of how he has been personally persecuted by the US government and testifies to what a wonderful human being Viktor Bout has always been. (Chichakli was living in Richardson, TX in 2007 He was Bouts's accountant and ran an airfield used by the Planes transporting arms to Africa).
  • They Intend to demonstrate that the FARC is not (technically) a terrorist group to the country of Thailand, and there was technically no breaking of Thai law
  • This Russian mouth piece article threatens retaliation against Thaind should they turn Bout over the the US.
  • Watch for Bout-friendly articles to appear in Western media (note the authors for future reference)

-Shimron Issachar

MOSCOW, April 30 (RIA Novosti) - Lawyers for an alleged Russian arms dealer arrested in Thailand have asked a fugitive U.S. businessman to testify for their client, a Russian paper said on Wednesday.

Former Russian army officer Viktor Bout, 42, was arrested in Bangkok in March last year during a sting operation led by U.S. agents. The United States accuses Bout of conspiring with others to sell millions of dollars' worth of weapons to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), among other illegal arms dealings.

Bout, who has spent over a year in a Thai prison, is facing extradition and trial in the U.S. after Thai authorities earlier announced that they would not press charges against the man dubbed "The Merchant of Death' by world media.
The Russian businessman has consistently denied the accusations and recently said his case was fabricated by the U.S. government.

Russian business daily Kommersant said that during Wednesday's hearings, the presiding judge adjourned the proceedings until May 19 so that a Thai Foreign Ministry official with legal expertise could answer questions regarding the existing extradition treaty between Thailand and the U.S. and whether the FARC rebel group is considered a terrorist organization by Thailand.

The judge also attached to the case on Wednesday testimony by Bout's friend and former business adviser, U.S. businessman Richard Chichakli, who is currently residing in Moscow.

Chichakli, whose business in the United States was seized in 2005 in connection with involvement in Bout's alleged illegal arms trade, insists that the U.S. government officials attempted to force him to testify against Bout, and when he refused the FBI raided his house and seized his computer, documents, and over $1 million in assets as part of an investigation into his friend's financial empire.
According to Kommersant, the witness said in his written testimony that the U.S. authorities had launched a "witch hunt" against Bout for a number of economic and political reasons.
The first of these was that Bout had undermined the Western monopoly on the control over natural resources in Africa by setting up a network of more than 50 cargo aircraft around the world as an alternative to transportation provided by the West.
However, UN reports say that Bout used his cargo fleet to facilitate his arms dealings.

Secondly, in Chichakli's opinion, the case is a U.S. attempt to indirectly accuse Russia of providing international terrorists, such as the Taliban, al-Qaeda and Colombian rebels, with weaponry.

Thai authorities are facing a tough choice, as whichever way they rule is likely to harm relations with either Moscow or Washington. Russia has consistently said that Bout should be freed.

The Rest @ Ria Novosti

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

BANGKOK - Thailand said Wednesday that it will not interfere in the extradition hearing of an alleged Russian arms smuggler whom the United States wants to put on trial but Russia reportedly wants sent home.
A senior Foreign Ministry official was called to testify at the ongoing hearing of Viktor Bout, dubbed the "Merchant of Death," after the presiding judge said he wanted the ministry's input because relations with Washington and Moscow could be at risk.

"The decision should be made with no regard to the relations between countries," Foreign Minister permanent secretary Veerasakdi Futrakul told the court. "The government will not interfere with the court decision and the legal process."

The United States wants Bout , who was arrested in Thailand last year for allegedly conspiring to sell weapons to Colombian rebels, tried in New York, where he faces four terrorism-related charges.

Russia has called the effort to extradite Bout "bewildering," and U.S. lawmakers have accused Moscow of trying to have Bout handed over to them, raising the possibility he could avoid trial in the United States.

The court had originally said that Wednesday would be the final day for testimony in the extradition hearing, which started over a year ago. But the judge adjourned the proceedings until May 19 so another ministry official with legal expertise could answer questions regarding Thailand's international treaties and whether a Colombian rebel group implicated in the case is considered a terrorist organization by Thailand.

Bout, 42, was arrested in Bangkok in March 2008 in the culmination of an elaborate sting operation in which U.S. agents posed as arms buyers for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC _ classified as a terrorist organization by Washington.

Bout is reputed to be one of the world's most prolific arms dealers. He has long been linked to some of the world's most notorious conflicts, allegedly supplying arms to former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor and Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. He has repeatedly denied the charges.

At a hearing in March, Judge Jitakorn Patanasiri said he was in "a tough position _ bilateral ties with Russia and the United States could be at stake."

The Rest @ Yahoo

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

10 Things You Didn't Know About Somali Pirates

By David Axe

Posted to the Web Apr 28, 02:42

In the 15 years since armed Somali fishermen began forcing their wayonto commercial ships, pirates have turned East Africa's seas into theworld's most dangerous waters.

In 2008 alone, Somalia's lawless seamencaptured more than 40 large vessels in the Gulf of Aden, a shortcutbetween Asia and Europe that's vital to the global economy. Wiping out today's pirates won't be easy; they're smarter, better organized, and,frankly, better loved abroad than the swashbucklers of yesteryear.

In aspecial dispatch from Mombasa, Kenya, Mental Floss correspondent DavidAxe explains.

1. They Have a Robin Hood Complex
Many Somali pirates see themselves as good guys. And at one point, they were.
  • After the government in Mogadishu collapsed in 1991, neighboringcountries began illegally fishing in Somali waters.
  • The first pirates were simply angry fishermen who boarded these foreign vessels anddemanded a "fee." But as the illegal fishing persisted, some early pirates banded together and called themselves "coast guards."
  • Theyclaimed to be looking after Somalia's territorial integrity until thegovernment could pull itself back together.

These weren't the only vigilantes on the scene, however. Other pirates made their debut robbing U.N. ships that were carrying food to refugee camps in Somalia. These bandits argued that if they hadn't taken the food, warlords would have seized it on land. And they had a good point.

  • Warlords gobbled down at lot of Somalia's relief foodduring the 1990s.
    But from these perhaps defensible beginnings, piracy spread farther from Somalia's shores and evolved into a multimillion-dollarenterprise.

Today, pirates are blunt about their motives. In late 2008,after a band of pirates seized a Ukrainian freighter full of weaponsand demanded $25 million for its release, Sugule Ali, a member of the pirate crew, told a reporter, "We only want the money."

2. Nobody Brings Home the Bacon Like a Pirate

According to some estimates, pirates in 2008 pulled in as much as $150 million,indicating that piracy is now Somalia's biggest industry. In fact,successful pirates are the country's most eligible bachelors. Whilesmall-time swashbucklers earn in the low five figures, bosses can pullin $2 million a year—this, in a country where you can buy dinner forless than $1.

But as their wallets fatten, many pirates are heading forgreener pastures, and the real money is flowing out of the country with them. Many are buying properties on the seashore of Mombasa, Kenya,where new condos are being built every day.

If a condo is selling for a few million dollars, there's a good chance the bosses will throw in an extra half-million, just to make sure the Kenyans don't ask too manyquestions.

3. Being a Pirate Is Easy!

Piracy is so simple that anyone can do it. All you need is a gun, an aluminum ladder (for scaling otherships), and a motorboat. Then you just have to wait for commercialships to pass by. Best of all, you don't have to worry about your targets shooting back. By international agreement, civilian vessels aren't allowed to carry guns because governments don't want armed shipsmoving from port to port.

"Once pirates are on board, they've got theupper hand," says Martin Murphy, a piracy expert with the Corbett Center for Maritime Policy Studies.

The best defense against piracy isspeed, but because most commercial ships aren't designed to go fast, pirates don't have any trouble chasing them down.

The most sophisticated marauders use machine guns and GPS systems, but many pirates are still low-tech fisherman. After they board a ship, all they have to do is steal or ransom the goods and prisoners. The cargo of a typical commercial ship ransoms for about $1 million.

4. The Law Can't Touch Them

Everybody knows piracy is wrong, but is it illegal? The truth is that the places where pirates operateare actually lawless. In Somali territory, there's no functional government to make or enforce regulations. And because nations don't control much of the ocean, there are no laws on the high seas, either.

Throughout history, governments have patched together legal frameworksto bring pirates to justice, but it's never fast or easy. Pirates—eventhose caught in the act by one navy or another—are often simply released on the nearest Somali beach, without so much as a slap on thewrist.

  • With Somali piracy on the rise, the world is playing legal catch-up.In November 2008, the United Kingdom signed an agreement to try piratescaptured by the Royal Navy in Kenya.
  • And other countries are followingBritain's lead, with nations including the United States, Singapore,and Turkey signing similar agreements.
  • But Kenya, despite having themost powerful democracy in East Africa, doesn't appear to have an effective court system. When Britain's first batch of eight captured pirates went on trial in Mombasa in December, the defense argued that Kenya shouldn't have jurisdiction and succeeded in persuading the judgeto defer the trial.

The long-term solution to piracy is a stable Somali government with a functional judiciary, but that requires peace between the country's warring clans. Somalia's new president, elected inFebruary 2009, is just starting to get groups to talk.

5. Pirates Rarely Kill People (Which is Why They're So Dangerous)

It'sdifficult to tell pirates from fishermen, until they climb aboard another ship and pull out their AK-47s. So, there's not much the U.S.Navy and other military forces can do as a deterrent except sail aroundand look menacing.

  • After pirates have seized a ship, navies rarely attempt to retake it, because hostages could be hurt in the process.
  • In the absence of an effective defense, there were more than 100documented pirate attacks in 2008 that resulted in more than 40 shipsbeing hijacked. But for all their aggression, the body count is low.
  • One ship's captain died of natural causes while being held hostage, and a few militia men have died in shoot-outs as they tried to rescue prisoners, but in general, little blood has been spilled.
  • Pirates also prefer to keep their prisoners in good health. Not only are civilians worth hundreds of thousands of dollars apiece in ransom,but the pirates' reputation for not harming their hostages has madegovernments reluctant to strike back on behalf of shipping companies.

While the pirates' hands remain mostly blood-free, the navies patrolling East African waters have taken lives.

  • The Indian navy, forexample, destroyed one pirate boat only to discover that the pirates had Thai hostages on board. At least a dozen innocent victims died.

6. Pirates Have Friends in High Places
Pirates prowl about 2 million square miles of the ocean. That's a lot of water,and even with thousands of ships on the high seas, it's possible to sail for days without seeing another vessel. So how do pirates knowwhere to look and which ships to attack? Spies.

  • The biggest gangs have informants in Mombasa, the major port in the region, where ships haveto file paperwork stating what they're carrying and where they're going. According to one Mombasa business leader, spies inside theKenyan maritime agencies pass along this information to pirate bosses—for a price.
  • Pirates are also in cahoots with local big-wigs in northern Somalia. In exchange for a cut of pirates' hauls, officials inthe Puntland region of Somalia turn a blind eye to the international crime flourishing under their noses.

7. Sailors Are Fighting Back (And It's Working)
Sailors know what they're getting into when they steer toward East African waters.And because their crews can't carry guns, they've found other ways tofight off pirates. Last year, one Chinese ship used tactics borrowed straight from a medieval castle siege.

  • When pirates clambered up the side of the Zhenhua 4, the crew climbed onto a higher deck and pulled up the ladder.
  • Then they turned on high-pressure fire hoses and knocked the pirates off their feet.
  • But the crew didn't stop there. Once in better position, the Chinese sailors started hurling down Molotov cocktails, made from beer bottles filled with gasoline.
  • Four hundred cocktails later, the pirates retreated. One pirate, who wasn't wearing any shoes, saw he was about to walk across a deck paved with shattered glass to get back to his ship. He called up to the ship's stalwart defenders and begged for something to cover his feet.

8. Bigger Ships Mean Bigger Paychecks
Somali pirates are getting bolder. For years, they've chased small fry, such as Kenyan fishermen, small coastal freighters, and U.N. food ships. Today, withfaster boats, better weapons, and more accurate information from theirspies, they're going after massive cargo ships, super-tankers, and evenpassenger liners. Nobody's safe.

In September, pirates grabbed a Ukrainian ship called the Faina, which was carrying armored vehicles, rockets, and other weapons. They followed up that dramatic heist byovertaking the Saudi oil tanker Sirius Star, which had crude oil aboardvalued at $100 million. (Both ships were released earlier this year after ransoms were paid.)

Recent attacks on cruise-liners have beenunsuccessful, but maritime officials are increasingly worried. Pirates usually attack in groups of about 10 and capture ships with 20 or sopassengers.

That ratio of captors to captives lets the pirates stay in control. But with cruise ships carrying as many as 2,000 people,there's no way pirates would be able to conduct an orderly capture.Things might get out of hand; and that, officials say, is when peopleget hurt.

9. Pirates Hurt Somalia the Most

The biggest victims ofSomali piracy are the Somalis themselves. Nearly 4 million people there(half the population) depend on food donations to survive. But pirateattacks on food ships have made it difficult for the United Nations tokeep sending provisions. In a desperate bid to keep the supplies flowing, the U.N. issued a plea to the world's navies in 2007.

As ofMarch 2009, no food ship sets sail from Mombasa without a Dutch,Canadian, French, German, Italian, or Greek warship riding shotgun. "If you don't have an escort, you cannot move food there," says U.N.official Lemma Jembere. But naval deployments are expensive, andwarships might not be available forever.

This could mean death by starvation for millions, all due to a few thousand opportunisticpirates.

10. It May Be Time for Desperate Measures

Even with theworld's navies rushing to protect East African shipping, the sheer sizeof the ocean and the huge numbers of ships involved mean warships arerarely in the right place at the right time. The mood in Mombasa, whereso many ship owners and seafarers are based, is bleak. Karim Kudrati, ashipping director whose four ships have all been hijacked at leastonce, says it's time for the world to mobilize an army and invadeSomalia. "Everybody knows where captured vessels are being taken, andon that aspect of things, nothing is being done."

The United Nations recently passed a resolution allowing aninvasion, but the United States military has put the brakes onparticipating in any operation. Perhaps they're hesitant because oftheir last experience sending troops to Somalia. In 1993, 18 Americanswere killed during a commando raid to capture a few, low-rankingwarlords. And yet, it's becoming more and more clear that withoutmajor, international intervention, piracy will continue to grow. Withthe benefits far outweighing the risks, pirates have no incentive tostop pillaging.

The Rest @ The Puntland Post

Monday, April 27, 2009

MOHAMED Y. ABSHIR WALDO familiar with Somali Remmitance Companies in US

MOHAMED Y. ABSHIR WALDO is the founder and director of the Sandi Consulting Group, a political, business and strategic consulting group whose primary focus is the revival and reconstruction of the Somali nation.

Starting out as a radio journalist with the BBC World Service and as Director of the Somali Broadcasting Service in the 1960s, he has been, at various points in his career (and sometimes all at once), a political activist, an entrepreneur and a development consultant.

His recent writings on the remittance industry stem from his development work on micro-finance issues as well as his interest in regional rehabilitation through small-business initiatives.

Mohamed is a graduate of Columbia University Journalism School (MA in Mass Media, 1968).

the Rest @ AUNDP Wach

US Bank and Wells Fargo Formerly Connected to Somali Financial Services Association of North America (SFSA )

Originally Published
August 24, 2006:

Bank of America, the nation’s largest retail banking company, announced Wednesday that it’s cutting its ties to the nation’s top two money transmitters, Minneapolis-based MoneyGram International and Western Union. This comes as Somali Financial Services Association of North America (SFSA), a union of a dozen or so small money transmitters are making an eleventh-hour attempt to prevent local banks from closing their accounts.

On Monday, local banks including Minneapolis-based TCF,
U.S bank

and Iowa-based Wells Fargo, announced they will close accounts used by Somali money wiring companies due to stiff regulations by the federal government.

The move could unravel the multi-million dollar money wiring business in Minnesota and might put millions of people in Africa and elsewhere whose relatives live in the state in financial crisis.

The Rest @ The Daily Planet

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Hawala Example

A recruited Jihadist in the United States, say Minneapolis, MN collects enough funds to finance their service, from family or "mystery Scholarship." They then take the funds they will need to a Hawaladar (One who operates a Hawala) in their home city in the US (they are all over).

The Hawaladar has along established relationship with a counterpart Hawaladar in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia or Iraq.

  1. The Hawaladar in the US collects all the funds, and may accumulate the funds for a later purchase
  2. The Hawaladar in the War zone pays cash in local currency to the Mujahadi-terrorist as he arrives in country.
  3. After enough cash debt has accumulated in the US, the War Zone the Hawaladar places an order for a commodity that is in high demand in his own country, that he can sell for a profit.
  4. The US Hawaladar uses the cash that has been accumulated to buy the commodity at local prices, usually less than the cash that has accumulated.
  5. The US Hawaladar then arranges to ship the commodity to the War Zone Hawaladar.
  6. When The War Zone Hawaladar sells the commodity order, each Hawala has made money, and the process can begin again.
  • Though both Hawaladars may have bank accounts, none of the transactions with the banks are tied to the terrorist money transfer.
  • All bank activities are tied to "client fees" and import and export activity.
  • No money actually moves between countries

New international record keeping requirements have been set in place to prevent money laundering, but the most abusive countries don' t participate, don' t have real over site or regulation, or corruption plays a role.

Some suggested ways to stop this transaction.

  • Flag and Monitor Three-party import/exports (US, Pakistan, Somalia, for example)
  • Enforce new Hawala documentation requirements with enough heavy fines to shut abusers down
  • Infitrate Western Hawaladars to see if there is a back-room terrorist money laundering operation going on with a legitimate remittance business going on in the front room.

Pakistan estimates that 5 Billion US Dollars a year pass through Hawalas in Pakistan.

finally, Hawalas are widely acknowledged to be the most common form of mid to low level financing and logistics for terrorism, and will remain so unless Western Hawaladars can come up with standards that will allow criminals to be tracked.

- Shimron Issachar

Taqiyya and the Long War in Africa

The Douglas Farah Post below re-introduces the concept of
Taqiyya into the Long War. It allows Islamist leaders at all levels to make promises to the enemies of the Umma in times of Jihaad that they never intend to keep.

Keep this in mind when dealing with Shabaab, AQIM and other emerging Islamist groups in Niger, Chad, Nigeria, Cameroon and the Congos.

-Shimronn Issachar

concept coveredin Shiia Dawa, but also in Islamist network groups, if not mainstream Salafi.

Another Missing Element in the AfPak Analysis
By Douglas Farah

To build on my CTB colleague Walid Phares recent post, there is another missing element in the analysis of the Taliban's recent advances in Pakistan.
It is the concept or religious precept of taqiyya in Islam and fully embraced by radical Islamists (including the Muslim Brotherhood.

It blesses the concept of disguising one's beliefs, intentions, convictions, ideas, feelings, opinions or strategies from the enemy and the infidel. In practical terms it is manifested as dissimulation, lying, deceiving, vexing and confounding with the intention of deflecting attention, foiling or pre-emptive blocking.

See this paper for a deeper look at what the term implies.
So, when the Taliban negotiates certain terms of its taking over parts of Pakistan and promises certain behaviors in return for limited power there, they have no intention of keeping to the terms of the agreement.

Under the terms of taqiyya, such behavior, which we widely view as duplicitous, is simply part of the accepted ways to spread sharia law and the caliphate. It has no moral consequence except to raise the esteem of the practitioner of this art in the eyes of his cohorts.

The Rest @ Counter Terrorism Blog

AQIM Recruiting Child Soliders

In this picture group in the AQIM Forum of the Al Ansar site,
If you look in the eigth row, first collumn, you will note three very young child soldiers.

Some India Diamond Trading Schemes May involve Hawalas

Of the 230 entities banned by the Securities and Exchange Board of India for their role in the Nirmal Kotecha scam, 43 are actually companies registered as gems and jewellery and diamond trading companies, while 63 are registered as export-import companies. Here is a verbatim transcript of Vivek Law’s comments on CNBC-TV18. Also see the accompanying video.

We told you earlier the Nirmal Kotecha-Pyramid Saimira scam is not just confined to one stock. He has been playing in several stocks that are now under probe. There is also a scanner on the role of various banks because there was a lot of movement in and out of various bank accounts.

The Rest @

  • Along with him, 230 entities have been banned from the market.
  • Now, 43 of these 230 companies are actually companies registered as gems and jewellery and diamond trading companies, while 63 out of these are registered as export-import companies.
We understand the authorities are now probing whether these were indeed genuine companies indulging in this business.

  • If not, or even if they were, is this a situation of hawala transactions having taken place, or foreign exchange norms having been violated.
  • We understand that is now in the scope of this scam, which has also caught the attention of various regulators and authorities.
  • The Sebi order has already mentioned that a large deal of money laundering seems to have been witnessed in this entire scam.

Shabaab Threaten to Invade NE Kenya, Annex Under Sharia

1631 GMT

Al-Qaeda and Al-Shabaab militiamen in Somalia have reportedly issued fresh threats to the Kenyan government saying they would invade the North Eastern province with the intention of annexing and subjecting it to Islamic Law.

North Eastern PC Kimeu Maingi said the two militia groups have officially communicated to the government authorities saying they were determined to invade the province and make it part of their country and rule it using their religious laws.

Maingi said the abduction of several Kenyan citizens witnessed at the border town of Mandera was part of a wider scheme to force a reaction from the Kenyan government.
  • Maingi expressed concern at the increasing cases of locals acquiring small arms from the strife-torn country which, he said, could be used in such an attck.
  • Maingi, however, said the government had put up measures to counter such an attack from the militia including deploying extra troops to man the expansive and porous Kenya-Somalia border and the disarmament of residents in the province.
  • Speaking at Warable in Fafi district during a relief food distribution exercise, the PC said it was unjustifiable for the locals to keep demanding food rations from the government when they routinely exchanged their livestock for firearms with Somali militias at the porous border.

Maingi's remarks came after a local resident, Sheikh Mohamed, surrendered a G3 rifle which, he admitted, had been used in clan wars pitting the Abdallah against the Abdwak.

  • Early this year, two people were killed when members of these two clans clashed over ownership of a water pan and pastureland.
  • The PC issued an indefinite ultimatum for locals to surrender the firearms they had illegally acquired from Somalia saying the government was committed to safeguarding its citizens by all means possible and no one would be allowed to own firearms illegally in the guise of protecting themselves.

The Rest @ Kenya BBC

Friday, April 24, 2009

Mokhtar Belmokhtar Was Robert Fowler's Kidnapper

Freed Canadian diplomats Robert Fowler and Louis Guay left Mali Friday aboard a Canadian government plane bound for Germany this weekend to be reunited with their families.

The two men were suddenly freed this week by their al-Qaeda-linked captors after four months of captivity. Two Europeans separately captured by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) were simultaneously let go.

Reports from Algeria suggest that an unnamed European government paid AQIM factions a multimillion-dollar ransom. While this transaction has not been officially confirmed, countries such as Germany and Austria have been reported to have made similar payments in parallel cases.

“The AQIM has been really hard up for money,” Evan Kohlman, a senior investigator with the U.S.-based NEFA Foundation, told The Globe and Mail.
Robert Fowler, left, and Louis Guay, centre, greet Malian President Amadou Toumani Touré, right, in Bamako, Mali, on Thursday.

The security think-tank analyzed and circulated the terrorist group's Feb. 18 statement after the winter capture of the Canadians and Europeans.

  • “We are glad to tell our Muslim nation of the success of the mujahideen [holy warriors] in executing two kinds of operations on Niger soil,” read the statement, circulated widely on jihadist Internet forums at the time.
  • Mr. Kohlman said the AQIM, an outgrowth of the Algerian Islamist insurgency, is more pragmatic and regionally minded than other al-Qaeda groups.
  • Because it relies on ransoms to finance its terrorist operations in West Africa, he said, it often chooses to deal away, rather than kill, hostages.
  • He pointed out that two Austrian hostages were freed last year in circumstances strikingly similar to this week's release.

A picture of multilateral hostage-rescue talks among European, Canadian and West African officials was slowly emerging Friday.

  • Negotiators may have had a back channel to AQIM leaders, one report suggested.
  • Burkina Faso was involved from the beginning of negotiations,” a presidential aide in that country told Agence France-Press.
  • “We sent emissaries to meet those who were holding them. The emissaries went as far as Algeria.”

Those remarks were made as Mr. Fowler and Mr. Guay personally thanked Burkina Faso's president, Blaise Compaore, on Friday.

They stopped over en route to Europe after their release in Mali on Wednesday.
Before the release, the Canadian government had been mounting a massive diplomatic effort and rescue operation in West Africa. Officials in Ottawa said Canada paid no ransom.

Distinct AQIM factions may have held the Europeans and Canadians.

  • AFP suggested that a faction led by a one-eyed gunrunner based in desert redoubts, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, 36, who is sought by Interpol, may have been holding the hostages.
  • The Europeans are said to have been captured by a Abid Hammadou, a 43-year-old core AQIM leader based in northern Mali.

Although two women, a Swiss and a German, were released this week, two men, one Swiss and one British, remain captives.

Mr. Hammadou, also known as Abdelhamid Abou Zeid, was publicly blacklisted by the U.S. Treasury Department last year.

  • The department's website alleges that Mr. Hammadou runs training camps, played a role in killing 15 Mauritanian soldiers, and helped kidnap 32 German tourists six years ago.
  • Reports at the time suggested a €5-million ($8-million) ransom was paid to AQIM's precursor, the Group for Preaching and Combat.

“Most was spent buying supplies for our brothers in Algeria,” one GSPC official was quoted as saying at the time. “We also bought weapons and ammunition.”

Mr. Fowler and Mr. Guay were appointed last year to a UN mission to kick-start negotiations between Niger and a group of Islamist nomad rebels.
While travelling in a UN jeep they were kidnapped and eventually traded up to AQIM.

The Rest @ The Globe and Mail

Robert Folwer and Guay Released


With Robert Fowler and Louis Guay set to return to Canada, questions persisted Thursday about whether a European country paid millions in ransom to secure their release.

While Prime Minister Stephen Harper denied Canada paid any ransom, and the United Nations said Thursday it was "not aware" of any ransom payments by other countries, an Algerian newspaper — citing unnamed sources — reported a European country paid five million euros for the release of the two Canadian diplomats and two Europeans in a "complex deal."

In a second report, Algerian security sources, speaking anonymously, also confirmed a ransom had been paid for the group's release, according to a translation of the Arabic-language Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper by the Washington-Based Middle East Media Research Institute — Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor Project.
  • The sources did not specify the amount of the ransom or who paid it, but added negotiations had been conducted through members of the Tuareg nomads, whose lands lie over several countries of the region.

Fowler, Canada's longest serving UN ambassador and a veteran of international affairs, went missing along with his assistant, Guay, last December in the Saharan nation of Niger while on a UN mission.

New pictures from neighbouring Mali on Thursday showed a bearded Fowler and Guay, both wearing suits, appearing robust and smiling as they shook the hands of diplomats.

According to officials, the Canadians will first fly to Germany for a reunion with their wives. They were also expected to spend a couple of days in a military hospital before returning to Canada

The claim a ransom was paid, however, is attributed to unnamed sources of Algerian-based El Khabar daily newspaper.

"It was . . . a highly complex deal, which included the provision of ransom from a European country of five million euros, according to informed sources," the newspaper said.

Significantly, the publication accurately reported last week, again citing unnamed sources, that a release was imminent.

It is also based in the same country as al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the North African branch of the international terrorist network that claimed responsibility for the kidnappings.

Spanish-language newswire EFE, quoting from the El Khabar report, also said last Tuesday that the two diplomats had been transferred in March from AQIM to the unnamed Mali-based armed group in an operation involving Algerian authorities.

The armed group, which operates in the northern Akazit region of Mali, was reportedly holding the two diplomats until their release.

The report claimed that Algeria had played a key role in the sensitive negotiations for their release.

El Khabar reported the agreement to release Fowler and Guay was reached without any strings as a result of the intense military and political pressure exerted on AQIM following the kidnapping, according to the report.

AQIM had demanded imprisoned members of their group be released in exchange for the hostages.

  • The group has in recent years gained a reputation of kidnapping for ransom while conducting frequent violent operations against mainly Algerian targets.
  • The group conducted lengthy negotiations last year after kidnapping two Austrian tourists in Tunisia in February, and transferring them — as in the case of the Canadian diplomats — to Mali.
  • After demanding $8 million for the release of the Austrians, $2 million was paid in October, a source close to those negotiations told Canwest News Service on Thursday.

The UN said it does not pay ransoms as a matter of policy, adding it does not believe Canada or any other group involved in the negotiations over the Canadian diplomats offered any.

"We are not aware of any ransom being paid or any concessions being made," Ban's spokesman Farhan Haq said Thursday.

Fowler's family and close friends learned that he and Guay had been transferred to Mali within a month of their capture, which gave them hope they would not be killed.

"Very early on, it became clear they were still alive," Fowler's friend Gerald Ohlsen, a retired diplomat, told Canwest News Service.

"It became clear they had value to whoever held them and that was in a sense reassuring because it reduced the likelihood they would be arbitrarily killed."

Ohlsen said it was absolutely necessary to negotiate in secrecy to secure the release of Guay and Fowler, his friend of 40 years.

But Ohlsen said legitimate questions remained unanswered, now that Fowler and Guay were safe.

  • "Who are these guys who held them and what did they want? Where do they fit in this much broader issue that goes all the way from Afghanistan to Somalia and West Africa?" he asked.
  • "Are they really part of a network or are they simply guys using the name and pursuing their own goals . . . So often in these conflicts — all of them — the primary driver isn't political, it's self-enrichment."

Allan Rock, a former Canadian UN ambassador, said Fowler and Guay would be subjected to heavy debriefing.

"We've had an involuntary glimpse into the inner workings of al-Qaida in North Africa and that whole region. There's no doubt that additional information about what happened and who was involved . . . that would be useful as we try to better understand the dynamics of the region."

Fen Hampson, director of the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University in Ottawa, and a friend of Fowler's, questioned whether the Niger government was complicit in his disappearance.

"Why did he disappear close to the capital of Niger, travelling on a road that was relatively secure in broad daylight?" asked Hampson.

"It was an open secret that the government of Niger didn't want the UN there and they didn't want Bob Fowler there because they weren't interested in talking to the Tuareg rebels."

Rock, now the president of the University of Ottawa where Fowler is a senior fellow, said Fowler's deep knowledge of Africa's complexities likely helped him endure his long captivity.

"I'm sure he figured out very quickly why he was taken and by whom. I'm sure that knowledge must have been reassuring for him," said Rock. "If anyone could understand what was happening to him and make it through, it would be Fowler."

Ohlsen and Rock described Fowler as a dedicated Africa hand, whose deep empathy for human suffering and high-level policy understanding fuelled a commitment to ending conflict.

"His level of commitment to the continent will not falter. He may falter. This is a massively traumatic experience. They both need to be given an enormous amount of time and space to heal," said Ohlsen.

"These things come back to haunt you," added Ohlsen, who has held senior posts in Nigeria and Rwanda. "It's just absolutely impossible to say what will happen with either of them as a result of this.

"They're not going to come out of this easily."

The Rest @

Ibrahima Bahanga, Hassan Fagaga, Iyad A Ghali, Mali, The 'Alliance Démocratique du 23 mai pour le Changement'( ADC )

The 'Alliance Démocratique du 23 mai pour le Changement' is a Tuareg rebel group created the 23rd May 2006, from the Tuareg Movement located in the region of Adrar des Ifoghas in Mali. Their stated mission is to defend the interest of the Turaeg of the North of Mali.

Ibrahim Ag Bahanga

Military Commander
Hassan Ag Fagaga

Iyad Ag Ghali

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Islamists Dig up Shiite Graves in Kismayo

April 16th, 2009

Kismayu — The Islamist insurgent forces in the port town of Kismayu about 500 kilometers south of the Somali capital Mogadishu have destroyed about 100 of Indian graves in the town, witnesses told Shabelle radio on Thursday.

The Islamic administration officer for the destruction of the graves in Kusmayu town said that the forces conducted operations in the town and destroyed at least 91 graves those were buried by Indian people who lived in Isku-Filan neighborhood in the town adding that the people burried in those graves were Shiite.

The Islamist officer told reporters that they collapsed the graves for reasons that they were not good to be there and against the religion of Islam adding that the residents were taking part the operations collapsed the Indian graves in Kismayu town today.

It is second time that the Islamic administration in Kismayu town in Lower Jubba region destroys graves around the town in Lower Jubba region and the move is part of the administration' decision of destroying graves those are visited by the people.

The Rest @ DijboutiNation

Monday, April 20, 2009

Mohamed Djirdeh Houssein

Age: 63
Gender: Male
Industry: Banking
Occupation: Business
Location: Dubai : United Arab Emirates

A businessman in finance, trading and in manufacturing
location of xareed (Near Hargeysa, Somalia)
-Mr. Mohamed Djirdeh Houssein-
  • CEO, Sahan Commercial Broker
  • Chairman of the Somali Finacial Serves Association since 2004.
  • Chairman of Somali Money Transmitters Association (SOMTA)
  • Here is his blog
  • Spoke at the This 2004 Conference (page84)in Dubai on the topic of Hawala in Somalia
Favourite Films
Favourite Music

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Somalia Pirate Captives Tell Their Stories

April 19th, Zimbo - From:

Some hostages are little more than skin and bones, their food running out and illnesses setting in as negotiations for their release drag on, angering their volatile captors. Others report less brutal conditions, even being allowed to fish for extra provisions.

Still, fear is a constant for all the 300 or so merchant seamen now held by Somali pirates. Life for them — and their families back home — is a grueling stretch of days, weeks, even months in cramped conditions, wondering about the future.

Sometimes there are threats of execution, along with worries of what will happen if their employers refuse to pay ransom and their usefulness as bargaining chips ends.
There is a lot of time to pray.
The U.S. Navy may have rescued an American cargo ship captain and French commandos saved a hijacked yacht in the lawless seas off Somalia, but a military rescue is unlikely for most of the hostages because their ships now lie at anchor in pirate strongholds.
Seafarers from the Philippines account for 105 of the prisoners, not surprising for a poor Southeast Asian country that supplies about 30 percent of the world's 1.2 million merchant sailors.
Released hostage Mark Abalos hails from here, and he had spent 10 uneventful years at sea until his ship was waylaid last summer by Somali pirates who clambered aboard from a pair of twin-engine motor boats, brandishing a grenade launcher, an assault rifle, pistols and knives.
Some of the five pirates wore shorts, and two were barefoot, he recalled. They appeared to range in age from 20 to 50 and clearly hadn't bathed in a long time.
But Abalos said they were well organized, a sign that their criminal work has turned into a thriving business, complete with its own makeshift port offshore.
"They pointed at a map on the wall and ordered the captain to change route toward southern Somalia," Abalos said.
The Antigua-flagged MV BBC Trinidad had been a month into a trip hauling logs from Mexico to the Middle East when the pirates boarded last Aug. 21.
A few days later, the boat anchored within sight of Somalia's shore. Two or three other hijacked ships were already there, and others came later.
"The pirates apparently were from different gangs, each with their own hijacked ship, talking through two-way radios about the status of ransom negotiations," Abalos said.
After anchoring, 15 more pirates came out to join the initial hijackers. They asked for information — the ship's cargo, the owner's name and contact details — and took over the satellite phone on board. The chief pirate negotiator went by the name Abdi and spoke English well.
"We can hear Abdi talking," Abalos said. "We figured out they were demanding $8 million."
Some hostages have told of mock executions in which pirates, angered that ransom negotiations weren't going well, lined up their captives and fired weapons close to their heads. And there has been at least one gunfight among pirates.
Catherine Boretta, whose husband Rodell is part of a 23-man Filipino crew that has been held for five months, said he was shot in the leg, apparently by a stray bullet when two arguing pirates tried to shoot each other.
She spoke with him by phone April 10. Such calls from a ship's satellite phone or a cell phone are scant — often under a minute and apparently never more than five — and mostly seem designed to urge relatives to pressure ship owners to pay ransom. The pirates usually put the calls on speakers, and hostages warn loved ones not to ask too many questions.
Her husband told her food rations had run out and the sailors were emaciated, Mrs. Boretta said.
"They stay in one room," she said. "They sleep there and wear whatever they were wearing when they were attacked because everything is looted, including clothes, slippers.
"When he calls, my husband's voice would usually be shaking. He told me they were going through hell."
Still, he tries not to tell too much. Mrs. Boretta said she learned about his gunshot wound from the wives of other crewmen. They and shipping company workers passed on reports that the shooting appeared to have been accidental.
"He did not want to tell me about it because I have a heart disease," she said. "When he called and I asked him, he said, 'I was shot in the leg,' but he did not elaborate and said he was OK."
She thinks he is worried about a deep ache in his leg despite not talking in detail. "When he calls he only tells us he loves us, that we should take care and pray," she said.
One thing Mrs. Boretta is sure of is that she doesn't want any rescue attempt and hopes the ship's owner pays a ransom instead.
"The families of hostages are afraid of any rescue attempt because it might put the lives of the hostages in danger," she said.
Conditions weren't quite as bad for Abalos and his 12 crew mates.
"We got pillows and sheets from our cabins and we were all ordered to just stay in the bridge," which had air conditioning and a CD player that was constantly cranking out Bon Jovi and other rock songs, he said.
"I knew our fuel would eventually run out. I hoped that it will not run out before ransom was paid," he said.
"It was difficult to sleep. There was constant fear. Sometimes we will wake up to the yells of the pirates when the negotiations were not going well," he said. "When we felt at some point that the negotiations were on the verge of collapsing by the way they were talking, we thought that was the end.
"We constantly prayed. There was a rosary in my pocket. I'm a Christian. My mother, who is Catholic, gave it to me sometime before when I left for a trip."
When the ship's larders ran bare, the pirates brought goat meat and noodles on board.
After 21 days, a tugboat arrived with a long haggled-over $1.1 million ransom.
The pirates began to leave the ship.
"You're free," Abalos said they told the crew.
Leszek Adler of Poland was the technical officer on the Saudi supertanker Sirius Star, which was hijacked off the coast of Somalia in November and released in January.
"Other than a few minor episodes they weren't hostile toward us all, although there were a few of them that had a hotter temper," he said. "They were never nice to us, and treated us the whole time as a potential threat and always acted toward us with a bit of distance.
"They all carried a machine gun with them, and some of them also had a pistol tucked into their belt or under their shirt, while others had knives."
Adler said he and his fellow sailors started rationing their 30-day food supply immediately after their capture, figuring negotiations could drag on for two or three months.
When the food ran out, they were allowed to fish from the deck with a hook and fishing line while a pair of guards watched.
"You put a piece of fish or meat on the end and that was it, kind of like Robinson Crusoe," Adler said with a laugh. "Those waters are very rich in fish, and in about two weeks of fishing we caught more than 200 kilograms (440 pounds) of fish."
Asked about the potential impact of the recent rescue of the American captain, Adler said: "It will definitely worsen the situation for sailors. The pirates were very careful the whole time, very sensitive to contact with the outside world, and were afraid of a possible rescue attempt the whole time."
Despite the risk, men like Adler will keep crewing ships, even to danger zones, because the pay is good. And some know no other work.
But the ties to the sea may be eroding. For Yekaterina Lomakina, her son's ordeal as a hostage has made her hope that her grandsons do not continue the family tradition of life at sea.
Roman Lomakin, of Kerch, a small port city wedged between the Black Sea and the Azov Sea on Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, was aboard the Saldanha, a Greek-owned cargo ship seized by pirates off Somalia's coast Feb. 22.
The wait for news has been excruciating.
"We've had no communication with him — none at all," Lomakina said, her voice breaking. "We just watch the TV news — watch and hope."
Lomakin's father and grandfather were sailors, and he and his wife have two sons. "I wouldn't want it for them," his mother said of a life at sea.
It's still too early for the 12-year-old boy to decide his life's work. As for the 4-year-old, he hasn't even been told that his father is a prisoner, Lomakina said.
"He just wants his father back."
Associated Press writers Jim Gomez and Teresa Cerojano in Manila, Ryan Lucas in Warsaw, Poland, Elizabeth Kennedy in Mombasa, Kenya, and Steve Gutterman in Moscow contributed to this report.

The Rest @ AP by way of Zimbo

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Muhammad Ali Samatar

Muhammad Ali Samatar (Somali: Maxamed Cali Samatar) (born 1931) is a former Somali army officer, and was a key figure in Somali politics in the 1970s and 1980s.

Samatar was an important official in the government of Siad Barre, having served as a general in the Somali Armed Forces, as Defense Minister from 1980 to 1986, and as Prime Minister from February 1, 1987 to September 3, 1990, the first person to fill that post since Barre abolished the position upon assuming the presidency in 1969.

The Somali Armed Forces, with assistance from security agencies, carried out widespread atrocities against suspected opponents of the Barre government during the time of Samatar's service as Defense Minister. Human rights reports implicate the military in the systematic use of extrajudicial killings, torture, rape, and arbitrary and prolonged detention.

The Isaaq clan, located primarily in the northwestern region of Somalia, known as Somaliland, was a special target of the military government. During the 1980s, the Somali Armed Forces initiated a brutal counterinsurgency campaign to deter Isaaq civilians from sympathizing with the opposition Somali National Movement (SNM). The Armed Forces killed and looted livestock, blew up water reservoirs, destroyed homes, and tortured and imprisoned alleged supporters of the SNM, including businessmen, teachers, high school students, and nomads tending their herds. Mass executions of civilians occurred regularly throughout the north during these years.

In June and July 1988, the Somali Armed Forces launched an indiscriminate aerial and ground attack on cities and towns in northwest Somalia, including Hargeisa and Buroa, the region's two largest cities. The attack destroyed most of Hargeisa, with the most extensive damage in the residential areas, the marketplace and in public buildings in downtown. The Somali Army engaged in systematic assaults on unarmed civilians, leaving more than 5000 dead. As a result of the fighting, approximately 400,000 Somalis fled to Ethiopia, where they remained in refugee camps for many years.

2004 lawsuit

On November 10 2004, the San Francisco-based Center for Justice and Accountability filed a lawsuit, Yousuf, et al. v. Samatar, on behalf of six Somali nationals against General Mohamed Ali Samatar, accusing him of a wide range of human rights abuses committed during the regime of Siad Barré during the 1980s. The lawsuit alleges that, as Minister of Defense from 1980 to 1986 and then as Prime Minister from 1987 to 1990, Samatar's subordinates in the Armed Forces committed crimes against humanity by targeting civilians for widespread abuse.

The lawsuit was filed under the internationally-recognized principle of "command responsibility", whereby a military commander may be held responsible for abuses committed by subordinates if the commander knew, or should have known, about the abuses and failed to take all reasonable measures to prevent the abuses or punish the offenders.
As of late 2006, the lawsuit is still active, and there has not yet been a response from the U.S. State Department.

External links

Source Wikipedia

vdePrime Ministers of Somalia
Haji Ibrahim EgalAli ShermarkeHaji HusseinHaji Ibrahim EgalFarah Salad† • post abolished, 1970-87 • Ali Samatar • Hawadle MadarArteh Ghalib • vacant, 1997-2000 • Khalif GalaidJama AliAbshir FarahAbdi YusufMohammed Ghedi

Salah Ali Samatar the Somali Pirate Tells HIs Story

NAIROBI, Kenya — There's at least one job these days that's recession-proof, if you can handle shark-infested seas, outrun some of the world's most powerful navies and keep your cool when your hostages get antsy.

A pirate's life in Somalia isn't for everyone. However, nothing comes easily in one of the poorest and most unstable countries on Earth, and when you consider the dearth of career options for Somalis on land, a pirate's life starts to look more than cushy by comparison.

"Is there any Somali who can earn a million dollars for any business? We get millions of dollars easily for one attack," bragged Salah Ali Samatar, a 32-year-old pirate who spoke by phone from Eyl, a pirate den on Somalia's desolate northern coast.

Hundreds of pirates such as Samatar — zipping around in simple fiberglass speedboats and usually armed with nothing more sophisticated than automatic rifles — have turned the waters off East Africa into a terrifying gantlet for cargo vessels, oil tankers and even cruise ships sailing between Europe and Asia.

The International Maritime Bureau says that at last count 42 ships have been hijacked off Somalia this year, and experts in neighboring Kenya estimate that Somali pirates have pocketed $30 million in ransoms.

While their countrymen suffer through another political crisis and the looming threat of famine, pirates are splashing hundred-dollar bills like play money around the nowhere towns of northern Somalia.

Residents say that the pirates are building houses, buying flashy cell phones and air-conditioned SUVs, gifting friends and relatives with hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars and winning the attention of beautiful women, who seem to be flocking to pirate towns from miles around.

Shopkeepers charge the pirates a premium for food and khat — a narcotic leaf that Somali men chew religiously — but the buccaneers don't seem to mind.

"It is true," said a 28-year-old pirate who identified himself as Jama. "We are getting very rich."

Jama, who described himself as a high-ranking member of a group based in Eyl, has earned $375,000 as a pirate, enough to buy a Toyota Land Cruiser and to begin building a six-bedroom house in Garowe, the regional capital, for his family.

His biggest payday came last month, when he earned a $92,000 share of a $1.3 million ransom for a Greek ship, the MV Centauri, which was released after 10 weeks with its crew unharmed.

Almost overnight, Jama said, his standing with the fairer sex has improved dramatically.

"Once there was a girl who lived in Garowe," 100 miles from Eyl, Jama said. "I loved her. I tried to approach her many times, but she rejected me. But since I became a pirate, she has tried nine times to get with me.

"But I refused, because I'm already married."

For years, piracy was a middling trade in Somalia, just one way that desperate young men with guns could make a living in a desperately poor land.

In recent months, however, with food prices soaring, the interim government careening toward collapse and local authorities powerless to intervene, hardly a day has gone by without an attempt to commandeer a ship.

"Socioeconomic status in Somalia is very bad right now, as we know, and this is one of the reasons pirates have turned to hijacking," said Cyrus Mody of the International Maritime Bureau, based in London. "There are a few people who are gaining a lot."

In September, pirates captured the world's attention by seizing the MV Faina, a Ukrainian ship ferrying tanks, grenade launchers and other weapons, reportedly to southern Sudan.

In November came an even more brazen haul: the Saudi-owned Sirius Star supertanker, the biggest ship ever hijacked, loaded with $100 million worth of oil. Both vessels are still being held for ransom.

  • The U.S. military and NATO have deployed warships to patrol the region, and China said this week that it would send a fleet to join the effort.
  • Also this week, the U.N. Security Council authorized nations to chase pirates onto land, although U.S. military officials are skeptical of that tactic, arguing that pirates can easily blend into the local population.

Many of the pirates are former fishermen who claim that they're retaliating against rich countries for years of illegal fishing and dumping in Somali waters, and a small portion of the ransoms is thought to go to local fishermen.

One pirate group in Eyl goes by the name "Saving the Somali Sea," although residents complain that the lion's share of the cash stays in the pirates' pockets.

"This town benefits nothing from the pirates," said Bishara Said Ahmed, a 38-year-old housewife in Eyl. "There's no business increase. It's like how it was before. The pirates use this town just to take ships, and when they have their money, they go to other towns to spend it."

Ransom payments used to be made via hawala, a money-transfer system that functions as a low-fee Western Union in the Muslim world.

As the sums have grown, however, ship owners increasingly rely on helicopter drops from Kenya. Wooden crates packed with cash sometimes fall from the sky in Eyl, like manna to the impoverished civilians barely eking out an existence on dry land.

Money-counting machines like the ones at your local bank — "We have to make sure it's real money," Jama explained — tally up amounts so huge that families who have survived on fishing for generations say that young children now want to grow up to be pirates.

"Whenever we hear that a ransom was paid, children's dreams of becoming pirates just increase," Ahmed said.

It isn't just children who are starry-eyed. Mustaf Mohamed Abdi, a 48-year-old taxi driver in Garowe, marveled at the excitement in town when a band of pirates comes through on a spending spree. If he's lucky, Abdi said, a friendly pirate might tip him with a hundred-dollar bill.

"The pirates are the hottest men in town," Abdi said. "Girls from all over Somalia moved here to marry pirates. But if the girl isn't cute she's out of luck, because the pirates only go with beautiful girls."

(McClatchy special correspondent Ahmed Ali Sheik contributed to this article.)

The Rest @ Common Dreams

Friday, April 17, 2009

How is Pirate Money Transferred?

Shabaab and Pirates collaborate

al Shabaab provides intelligence, weapons and tactical training. In Exchange, Shabaab gets a cut of the ransom or captured goods.

Shabaab's Senior logistician, al Turki, trained as an al Qaeda operative, takes the goods and turns them into a business:

Shabaab uses the stake to invest in a smuggling ring

A black market ring into their next target country, Kenya. They smuggle the goods across the border, paying friendly Muslims with the jobs from the smuggling ring, extending friendships and contacts in Kenya and creating a lucrative business supporting locally developed battle tactics, at the same time, they undermine the tax collection and economy of Kenya.

Bags of Sugar Stamped from Dubai?
cheap electronics
fake designer clothes
Stolen Relief goods like Rice, Pasta Maize

How is the Money is Laundered

  • Cash is deposited with Halawas in Kenya,
  • and transferred to Hawalas in Dar Es Salam, Uganda and The Sudan, San Marino.
  • From there, Hawalas send remittances for agents to pick up in Dubai, Italy Romania.
  • From there, They place orders for heavier arms from Beltech export in Belorus, AKs from Venezuela.
  • All these orders are made in small amounts with many different agents; only Turki and a few others know all the players.

Here is how Hawalas work

Intelligence objectives:

  • Inventory shipping manifests of ships captured by Pirates sitting in Somali Ports
  • Compare goods to products being smuggled into Kenya
  • Identify the banks who hold the funds for the Hawalas
  • Identify the banks where two or more Hawaladars have joint access to funds

A Somali Refuge Camp in Kenya: Misery from Somali Islamists

The lucky ones come with their families, others appear out of the thorn bushes, walking alone. Five hundred Somalis are now arriving at this bleak Kenyan outpost every day.

They join a population of 267,000 and counting, in a facility built to shelter just 45,000. While the world has been captivated by the high seas drama of Somalia's pirates, this human tide has swollen the ranks of Dadaab, turning it into the world's largest refugee camp.

The new arrivals sit in their hundreds under a makeshift tarpaulin, trying to keep perfectly still in temperatures that reach 40C in the shade.

It speaks volumes for the horrors unfolding in Somalia that people will abandon their homes, risk arbitrary arrest, death or starvation to reach the desolate welcome on offer in this corner of northern Kenya.

These people are proof of the human cost of the accelerating collapse of Somalia, yet their fate attracts nothing like the global interest that surrounds Somali piracy and its threat to commerce.

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) that runs Dadaab urgently needs new money from international donors and new land from the Kenyan government.

Neither has been forthcoming. The annual budget for this camp is $19m (£13m) – roughly half the annual operational cost of a single warship patrolling the

Indian Ocean in search of modern-day Blackbeards.
Related articles

The story of Dadaab is in some senses the story of modern Somalia. Its three camps:
  • Hagadera,
  • Ifo
  • Dagahaley, were built to house those who fled when the last functioning central government – that of socialist dictator Siad Barre – collapsed in 1991.

The camps soon reached their initial capacity and as the mother country just 50 miles to the north has sunk deeper and deeper, so the number of refugees has risen and risen.

An entire generation of children has grown up knowing Dadaab as their only home. There have been 14 failed governments since then, Somalia is in a state of anarchy and Dadaab is facing an extraordinary influx.

Last August the land ran out and the UN had to declare the camps full. It has not stopped the desperate masses arriving.

Somalia is a country surrounded by political walls.

Its land borders with Ethiopia and Kenya have been closed to protect their countries from the Islamic militias on the other side. In reality the only effect of the closures has been to make it even harder for people like Osman Hussein Bare to flee. With his family seated in a tired circle around him, the middle-aged man stands to tell his story with some dignity.

"There is war in Somalia," he explains. "A lot of bullets; day and night they are fighting in the place."

  • A farmer from a village close to the coastal city of Kismayo, Mr Bare found his life taken over by the emergence of the powerful Al-Shabaab militia.
  • The breaking point, which sent him trekking for two nights across a sealed border to another country, came when the militants began to dig up the remains of religious leaders from Islamic sects they considered their rivals.
  • "The way they rule I cannot live under them," he said.

Amina, 22, was not one of the lucky ones. She was separated from her family and has arrived alone from Kismayo. During her fortnight's journey to reach Dadaab she was badly beaten twice, once by militiamen and once by Ethiopian soldiers. She says: "I'm a woman, I'm vulnerable and there's no government to protect me."

By midday at the UNHCR's registration office at Dagahaley camp, a state of organised chaos prevails. Lines of worn and exhausted people queue in all directions; young children howl as they are given basic vaccinations.

The prize on offer is a ration card. Outside the high fence faces and fingers push against the wire, some desperate, some curious.

  • "Some people will have to come back tomorrow," Andy Needham from UNHCR explains. Registration means access to basic food and a rudimentary kit to build a shelter.
  • There is no more land to give so people must find relatives or friends already inside the swollen camps to accommodate them.

After a week in which the first attempted hijack of a US ship off the coast of Somalia propelled the troubled nation to the top of the news agenda, it is the image of a shoeless young Somali, armed with a rocket launcher and shielded by a foreign hostage, that has remained with much of the world.

In fact, the hundreds of thousands of Somalis in Dadaab are as much victims of those pirate gangs as the foreign sailors captured in the Gulf of Aden. Food supplies to the camps were delayed by this week's surge of hijackings and the refugees' rations have been cut by one third.

A recent report on Dadaab by Oxfam described conditions as "conducive to a public health emergency".

The outlines of that are clearest at the N-0 encampment which lies on the fringe of the Ifo facility. It is known to regular visitors as the "end of the world".

There are no buildings here, just white UNHCR tents and balloon-shaped shelters that refugees have built from sticks and bits of plastic.

Everything has been blasted by red dust and nothing grows here but the ragged, thorned acacia trees.

  • The shelters are packed so tightly together there is barely room to walk between them.
  • A fire here would have no natural barriers and the consequences would be devastating.
  • Yet each night hundreds of families cook on open hearths, there is no other choice.

This is just one of the nightmares that is haunting David Kangethe, a programme manager for Care International, the agency struggling to deliver basic services like water, sanitation and rubbish collection.
"Refugees are building everywhere.

This place is a matchbox, if you lit it up it would just burn," Mr Kangethe sighs. There are chronic water shortages, sanitation facilities are overwhelmed and diseases like cholera are rife.

The need for new land is acute but so far the Kenyan government has dragged its feet, citing complaints from the local community that they are being overwhelmed by the number of refugees.

Some 70,000 people live in the surrounding area, mainly animal herders who fear the loss of grazing land and scrub forest.

What is needed, according to aid workers, are three to four new camps but negotiations with Nairobi have remained deadlocked.

UNHCR has looked at what it would cost to give people the basic minimum living standard. The answer is $92m and an urgent appeal has been issued.

The response has been a near-deafening silence. The UK offered £2m in new money last week. Similar small pledges are trickling in but observers believe donors are waiting for a major crisis to break out before taking real action. That may happen very soon.

"If the numbers continue to increase we're headed for a crisis," says Mr Kangethe of Care.

In the meantime anti-piracy efforts will continue to dominate thinking in regard to the Somalia situation.

Gerry Simpson from the New York-based Human Rights Watch says the equation is simple: "When commercial interests are at stake there's money. When it's women and children there is not."

Survivors' stories

Ahmad Abdullahi Hussein

I was part of a militia that was fighting against al-Shabaab. We had to fight them. At night I was attacked in my home. I managed to go from the window. Later I found my wife was killed and only my two children Anisa and Abdulmalik were alive. The others were dead. I couldn't do anything. No-one can do anything against them.
I brought my children here to find my mother. She is in Hagadera camp, I want to be reunited with her. The children have no mother, they need mine.

Habib Waleda

In Mogadishu bombs were coming down from the sky and hitting houses. When the mortar hit my house we all just ran away. We were separated. I had nine children. Now I don't know where my husband is or where eight of my children are. I looked for them in Mogadishu but they don't have a telephone. It's impossible to find them. I found a taxi and I offered to give him the small money I had. I gave him $150 and I told him I didn't have any more money. He brought me near to the border. I don't know where they are. All I have is to hope they are coming.

Mohamed Ali

I am 70 years old. I fled from a town called Barra. I have lost my wife and my two children. I think they have gone to Bosasso, but I have not seen them for a year. I had to walk for 15 days through the desert. It was hard for me to walk because I am blind.

I had to stop and ask people for a little food along the way. Even if I go out and walk on the streets now a member of my family could walk by me and I would not see them. I have to hope that they will see me.

The Rest @ The Indepenat (UK)
We have not been feeding the terror nerds properly of late. They are stirring in their chains.

Via Jihadica, I found this impressively detailed study of attack patterns in Algeria, published by Hanna Rogan in the CTC Sentinel (PDF) in late 2008.

It analyzes trends in attacks carried out by the GSPC (now al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb) from 2001 into 2008, and should be enough to chew on for a while.

The Rest @ Maghreb Politics Review, by Alle via Adrian

Kenya Agrees to Buy Iranian Oil on Credit

The Deal alegedly calls for 90 day payment delays. This will place Kenya of an ongoing line of credit debt to Iran.

-Shimron Issachr

Iran will reportedly supply Kenya with 4 mm tons of oil annually as a part of range of deals signed in February between the two states.

The Kenyan government rejected the allegations that Iran offered its crude oil to Kenya at 10 % below the market price. It says Iran, the world's fourth largest oil exporter, has agreed to offer Kenya a 90-day credit period to pay its debt to Tehran.

Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad visited east Africa's largest economy on February 25 and signed a range of economic agreements with his Kenyan counterpart Mwai Kibaki.

The Iranian president said it was of great importance for Tehran to promote political and economic ties with Kenya.

Iran currently exports industrial oil, carpets and chemicals to Kenya and imports tea.

Kenya plans to add beef and fish products to its list of exports to Iran.

Analysts believe the new agreements could increase the volume of Iran-Kenya trade to $ 500 mm by the end of next year.

Iran is helping Kenya on several major energy and infrastructure projects.

The two countries have also agreed to establish direct flights between Nairobi and Tehran, to set up a shipping line between the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas and the Kenyan port of Mombasa and to build an Iranian trade centre in Nairobi.

The Rest @ WorldNews

Pirates Who Captured Americans were Untrained Youths

The Somali pirates who kidnapped Captain Richard Phillips were heavily armed but inexperienced youths, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Monday, adding that the hijackers were aged 17-19. The pirates, three of whom were killed by US Navy snipers on Sunday, were "untrained teenagers with heavy weapons", Gates told a group of 30 students and faculty members at the Marine Corps War College in Quantico, Virginia.

The Rest @ African Analysis

Possible Coup Attempt in Togo

The brother of Togolese President Faure Gnassingbé, Kpatcha Gnassingbé, today was arrested in Lomé on suspicion of planning to stage a coup following a shootout in his house killing two on Sunday.

According to Togolese government sources, Kpatcha Gnassingbé was detained today "as he sought refuge at the US embassy after a military raid on his house that fuelled political speculation.

  • "The brother of the President earlier served as Minister of Defence of Togo, but fell out with his brother and was removed from the post.
  • Both are sons of Togo's former Dictator Gnassingbé Eyadema, who died in 2005, leading Faure Gnassingbé to take power in a coup, later legitimising his power through a flawed election.
  • Brother Kpatcha remains an influential member of Togo's ruling party, the Rally of the Togolese People (RTP).

After leaving his post as Defence Minister, he has maintained private armed forces to look after his security as relations with his presidential brother cooled.

On Sunday, government security forces raided one of Kpatcha's Lomé houses, finding him and members of his private security agents there.

The raid developed into a shootout. At least two persons were killed and three others wounded in the attack.

The raid against the President's brother's house followed a suspicion of coup plotting. Togolese state prosecutors said the meeting at Kpatcha's house had been suspicious and the raid was a bid to arrest soldiers and civilians "suspected of trying to undermine state security."

President Gnassingbé took the alleged coup plotting seriously.

  • He immediately cancelled a state visit to China as reports of the shootout reached him on Sunday. Togolese state prosecutors suspect Kpatcha Gnassingbé of planning to take advantage of the President's absence to stage a coup.
  • Brother Kpatcha was put under house arrest following the incident, but managed to escape.
  • Authorities immediately issued an arrest warrant against him. According to official Togolese sources, he made an unsuccessful attempt to seek refuge in the American Embassy in Lomé.
  • Government troops loyal to President Gnassingbé however expected him in front of the Embassy, where he was peacefully detained.
The Rest @ African News Analysis

South Sudan Gets Land Lease to Raise Crops, or Maybe Raise an Army

Apr 16, 2009
New York investment firm mulling more land leases in S. Sudan.

from African News Analysis by David Barouski

Sudan Tribune16 April 2009
Jarch Management Group, Ltd., a US investment firm, disclosed that it is considering additional opportunities to lease large tracts of farmland in Southern Sudan.

This report follows the announcement in January of a massive lease agreement that prompted some tension within governing circles in Southern Sudan.

In an apparent change of course from oil investing to agriculture, Jarch Management took a 70% interest in the Sudanese company Leac for Agriculture and Investment and leased approximately 400,000 hectares of land claimed by General Paulino Matip, a figure now straddling a deep fissure within the Sudan People’s Liberation Army.

In a statement emailed to Sudan Tribune today the company disclosed that it aims to lease another 400,000 hectares of land by the end of the year.

"Since its January 2009 announcement that it had leased about 400,000 hectares, the Company has had a multitude of offers to buy and lease farmland from around the world,” said a statement from the management of the company.

“However, the Company is focused on frontier African countries and continues to look for opportunities in farmland and other natural resources in these countries. As such, the Company hopes to conclude more deals for more leased farmland. The Company is hopeful that it can lease at least another 400,000 hectares of land by the end of the year.”

  • South Sudanese law requires that large leases of land be approved by two local government bodies.
  • Accordingly, a January statement from Leac Company noted that the acquisition would include dealings with local land authorities and stressed that “the state and local governments shall have budgets for development because of the cash flows from the agricultural schemes the two companies will operate.”

While U.S. companies are banned from doing business in Sudan, agriculture in Southern Sudan is exempted from sanctions provided that the national government does not have any stake in the business and provided that no imports or exports pass through non-exempt areas.

Jarch Management Group, Ltd, which is registered in the Virgin Islands, is managed by New York investor Philippe Heilberg, commodities traders and former State Department and Central Intelligence Agency officials, among others.

The Rest From African News Analysis

AQIM has been Quiet Since the Plague

This is a somewhat painful-to-read translation of an article from a an Algerian French language Newspaper, discussing their investigation into the dismanteling of some AQIM logistics teams in the Tizi Ouzou Region of Nothern Algeria, an AQIM stronghold.

This was first published on February 1st, 2009. In context, this was about when a number of AQIM Mujahadeen surrendered because of a black plaque outbreak in This same region.

- Shimron Issachar

Kept in total secret, the key to this "war chest" are held by one terrorist leader, in this case Ben Ali Touati alias Abu Tammimi who visited recently.

The security forces come to get their hands on a powder keg! A huge stock of explosives of the former GSPC containing five kilograms of TNT and as nitric acid, ready for use were discovered at Timezrit, a town located 35km south-west of the wilaya of Boumerdes.

More exactly, the explosives were located in lieudit Tihachadine, located between Timezrit and Ait Yahia Moussa, an area located near the vast mass of Sidi Ali Bounab known to be a real GSPC stronghold for years.

The cache was established in the late 90s by the henchmen of Hassan Hattab, then national emir of the former GSPC.
  • The former terrorists who were returning from the war in Afghanistan and then those of Iraq, have been instrumental in the establishment of the stock used in the manufacture of bombs and other explosives for attacks including the suicide bombers.
  • Kept in total secret, the key to this "war chest" are held by one terrorist leader, in this case the emir of Ansar El Seriate called Ben Ali Touati alias Abu Tammimi. The location of the stock in question was revealed by the Emir who visited with weapons and baggage security services in Tizi Ouzou 17 days ago, according to a reliable source safe.
  • The surrender of this veteran of Afghanistan came after the Hattab, on the one hand and the other, it would, of course, due to guéguerre [internal war?] within the Al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb.
  • Thus, he negotiated his surrender by providing matching information of the first order to the forces of the PNA, in the image of this stock of TNT and nitric acid.

The operation of such explosives enfouillissement occurring last weekend [ 30-31 Januray?] was led jointly by the heads of the military areas of Tizi Ouzou and Boumerdes.

  • This huge quantity of TNT was buried in up to 6 metal drums and the acid in plastic cans and all protected by plastic sheeting, however, our source.
  • Aged forty years, Ben Ali Touati alias Abu Tammimi, Dellys east from where he was the emir of seriata of this city before he was promoted to head of the Ansar el katibet by Droukdel.
  • This formidable katibet over 70 activists working in the area stretching of Isser through Timezrit, Bordj Menaiel, Naciria, Baghlia, and Dellys Tigzirt. With this umpteenth battering, Al Qaeda in the Maghreb with the latest media attack began last August, going through a very critical stage in recent months.

The security services continued their action on the ground with more confidence now that the results of destruction of GSPC are tangible.

The terrorist organization is expressed less in recent months, even in regions where it was rampant with the attacks, a few years ago.

Should also be noted that the direction of the former GSPC in the center of the country, is virtually wiped out with the surrender of the most wanted terrorist and close to Droukdel.

  • In addition, tens of Logistics cells are dismantled in Boumerdes and Tizi Ouzou over the last 10 days according to our source.
  • At the level of massive Bounab Sidi Ali, the police have discovered and defused four bombs.
  • Here, a terrorist group composed of at least fifteen elements, all close to the former head of the GSPC, expect the gun to the foot, when to go.
  • These elements seem entrenched in a cave and waiting time H.
  • Furthermore, according to credible sources, a terrorist refuge in a cave of Akfadou would have counted among his people, the dead, when they were hunted by the police.
  • The security forces reportedly transported in a health institution that would have confirmed that they died of the plague.

Since the people of this region of Akfadou were advised not to approach the scene. One thing is certain is that the terrorists across their backs are really "in trouble".

In addition, a network of support for armed terrorist groups was dismantled in the town of Tadmait, 20 kilometers east of Tizi Ouzou, it was learned yesterday from reliable sources.

  • The network in question consists of nine people including a woman.
  • According to our sources, they have all been submitted to the prosecutor and five placed in custody.
  • The other four are now under judicial control.
The Rest @ Lejune Algerien by way of Wikio