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Saturday, May 23, 2009

al Qaeda Takes Direct Charge of Insurgency in Somalia

The following report from The Times suggests that Foreign Commanders have taken charge of the Islamist offensive in Somalia.

This is remarkeable development, suggests that Transitional Government Forces, who has recently counter attacked, has stripped the combined Shabaab and Hizbul Islam Units of thier local Leadership.

Key questions are:
  • Where are Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys and Muktar Abdirahman Godane?
  • Has there been a falling out breaking their recent re-uniting?
  • Have the forces so fractured that only Seasoned al Qaeda leaders can hold them together?
It may be that The Times are likely misreading the count of 1000 foreign fighters. They may be double counting, reading reports that there are about 300 fighters, and believing these fighters just arrive, added those numbers already there.

There may have been up to 500 foriegn fighters at the begining of the offensive, and unless plane loads of new foreign fighters have arrived in last few weeks that is a more likely number.

-Shimron Issachar

Up to a thousand foreign fighters, including Britons, have answered the call to jihad in Somalia and are leading street-fighting Islamist extremists in the war-torn capital Mogadishu, The Times has learnt.
Early yesterday the Western-backed Government launched a counter-offensive after almost a fortnight of attacks by insurents that have killed at least 200 civilians.

At least 45 people were killed yesterday in battles across the city, the highest daily death toll for months.

The insurgents’ attacks have threatened to topple the shaky Government of Sheikh Sharif Ahmed only weeks after the international community pledged £135 million to support him.

Senior security officials in the region say that the foreign fighters are behind the recent success of the extremists. More than 290 fighters from Britain, the US, Canada, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia entered Mogadishu in the past two weeks.

An intelligence report seen by The Times, which is due to be presented to the US Congress next week, states: “An estimated ten foreigners have taken the lead to command both Somali and foreign fighters in Mogadishu and other parts of Somalia.”
“I have no doubt that some of the foreign fighters are British as well as North American and Scandinavian,” said Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the top Somali diplomat for the United Nations. One Western diplomat with experience in Somalia said: “These foreigners are the ones with al-Qaeda links. I would be surprised if Britons were not the leading foreign members of al-Shabaab.” [...]
“Al-Shabaab welcomes and calls foreign fighters for jihad,” said Jason Mosley, an Africa analyst at Oxford Analytica. In most cases foreign fighters bring religious fervour helping to radicalise the bulk of disparate al-Shabaab militants, who fight mostly for money or under duress.
Of course, if there were not broad acceptance of Sharia in letter and in principle across Somalia, the jihadists -- styling themselves as bearers of "law and order" -- would not have gotten as far as they have.

A smaller number have military skills, financing and weaponry. “We understand that these fighters are providing training to the extremist insurgents and are helping to mobilise funding and source weapons, the level of which we have never seen before,” Nicolas Bwakira, the head of the African Union (AU) Somalia mission, said.

Intelligence sources said that foreign jihadis from Britain and elsewhere had joined an alliance of al-Shabaab factions and Hizb al-Islam extremists that have coalesced around Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys. The Sheikh, who is wanted as a terrorist by the US, returned from exile in April to take on the fragile Administration of Mr Ahmed.

The Rest @ Jihad Watch

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