U.S. reportedly hits jihad base in Somalia

U.S. reportedly hits jihad base in Somalia

Although toppled from power in Mogadishu, the Somali jihadists are still active. One Pentagon spokesman says below: “This is a global war on terror and the U.S. remains committed to reducing terrorist capabilities when and where we find them.” This is good. It needs to be done now on a much more thoroughgoing level, with attention given to the ways in which Islamic supremacism is being advanced through peaceful means.

But before that can happen, there will have to be a sea change in the way Administration, State Department, and military officials view this conflict, and that does not look to be in the offing.

“Report: U.S. hits militants’ Somali base,” by Mohamed Olad Hassan for Associated Press, with thanks to all who sent this in:

MOGADISHU, Somalia – At least one U.S. warship bombarded a remote, mountainous village in Somalia where Islamic militants had set up a base, officials in the northern region of Puntland said Saturday.The attack from a U.S. destroyer took place late Friday, said Muse Gelle, the regional governor. The extremists had arrived Wednesday by speedboat at the port town of Bargal.

Gelle said the area is a dense thicket, making it difficult for security forces from the semiautonomous republic of Puntland to intervene on their own.

A local radio station quoted Puntland’s leader, Ade Muse, as saying that his forces had battled with the extremists for hours before U.S. ships arrived and used their cannons. Muse said five of his troops were wounded, but that he had no information about casualties among the extremists.

A task force of coalition ships, called CTF-150, is permanently based in the northern Indian Ocean and patrols the Somali coast in hopes of intercepting international terrorists. U.S. destroyers are normally assigned to the task force and patrol in pairs.

CNN International, quoting a Pentagon official, also reported the U.S. warship’s involvement. A Pentagon spokesman told The Associated Press he had no information about the incident.

“This is a global war on terror and the U.S. remains committed to reducing terrorist capabilities when and where we find them,” Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said.

“We recognize the importance of working closely with allies to seek out, identify, locate, capture, and if necessary, kill terrorists and those who would provide them safe haven,” Whitman said. “The very nature of some of our operations, as well as the success of those operations is often predicated on our ability to work quietly with our partners and allies.”

U.S. believes Somali jihadists regrouping in Saudi Arabia, Eritrea, Yemen

U.S. believes Somali jihadists regrouping in Saudi Arabia, Eritrea, Yemen

“US in warning on Somali militants,” by William Wallis for the Financial Times:

The US believes militant Islamists from the ousted coalition that held sway over parts of southern Somalia may be regrouping in Saudi Arabia, Eritrea and also Yemen, Jendayi Frazer, US assistant secretary of state for Africa, said yesterday.

Speaking to the Financial Times in Addis Ababa, Ms Frazer said it was too early to tell who among the Islamist leadership had survived Ethiopia’s invasion last month and subsequent US air strikes on alleged affiliates of al-Qaeda.

“It is going to take some time for the fog of war to clear up and we have an ability to see who is still operating and how they are operating,” she said.

But she was “very concerned” that extremist elements from among the defeated Islamists were “trying to reconstitute themselves either out of Saudi Arabia or Eritrea”, and that international jihadist networks would see this as an opportunity.

“We have to engage with the Saudi government and their services to try to prevent that from happening as well as engage regionally.”

Ms Frazer described Eritrea, with whom the US has deteriorating relations, asa “source of regional instability”.

This had been “very clearly exposed” during recent events in Somalia.

Ethiopia, the US’s principle ally in the Horn of Africa, alleges that Eritrea supported hardline elements within the ousted Islamists by supplying arms, fighters and military advice.

“Eventually Eritrea will see the limits of its actions to destabilise the Horn,” said Ms Frazer.

Ms Frazer said the key to ensuring Somalia did not provide a haven for international terrorist networks now lay with the Transitional Federal Government, which emerged from peace talks in Kenya in 2004.

“They have to do it by reaching out. They have to do it through inclusive dialogue,” she said.

“Engaging” the Saudis. “Reaching out,” apparently, to the Somali jihadists. Albert Einstein once defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

U.S. urges fast African peace mission to Somalia

U.S. urges fast African peace mission to Somalia
Fri Jan 12, 2007 1:48 AM ET

By Andrew Cawthorne

NAIROBI (Reuters) – The United States appealed on Friday for a speedy deployment of African peacekeepers in Somalia to prevent a “security vacuum” that could spawn fresh anarchy after a war to oust militant Islamists.

U.S. ally Ethiopia, which is the Horn of Africa’s major power, wants to withdraw its military in weeks after helping the interim Somali government rout the Islamists over the New Year.

But diplomats fear that would leave President Abdullahi Yusuf’s government vulnerable against the multiple threats of remnant Islamists vowing a guerrilla war, warlords who are seeking to re-create their fiefdoms, and competing clans.

“Deploying an African stabilization force into Somalia quickly is vitally important to support efforts to achieve stability,” Michael Ranneberger, U.S. ambassador for Kenya and Somalia, said in a newspaper opinion piece.

“We welcome the Ugandan commitment to send forces and we are urging other African countries to do so as well…(It) will enable the rapid withdrawal of Ethiopian forces without creating a security vacuum.”

The African Union and east African body IGAD have expressed willingness in principle to send more than 8,000 troops into Somalia. Uganda has said it is ready to provide the first battalion, but Khartoum is nervous of the risks for its soldiers in a nation in chaos since the 1991 ouster of a dictator.

It is still unclear who would fund the mission, which nations would contribute, and how quickly it could be mustered.

Further, with the precedent of African peacekeepers’ failure to stop bloodshed in Sudan’s Darfur region, many doubt they would be able to tame the violence and rivalry in Somalia.

Wary of its post-war nightmare in Iraq, Washington is eager to prevent Somalia descending back into chaos after its first policy goal — ousting the Islamists — was achieved.

U.S. officials believe Somalia, under the six-month Islamist rule across most of the south, became a haven for foreign radicals including some of its most wanted al Qaeda suspects.

GOVERNMENT URGED TO REACH OUT

Washington launched an air strike in Somalia on Monday — its first overt military involvement since a disastrous peacekeeping mission ended in 1994 — aimed at an al Qaeda cell.

That attack took out up to 10 al Qaeda allies, but missed its main target of three top suspects, the U.S. government says.

The Washington Post reported on Friday that a small team of U.S. military personnel entered south Somalia after the strike to try and determine who was killed.

If true, that would mark the first known case of U.S. military boots on the ground in Somalia since the 1990s mission which ended soon after local militia downed two Black Hawk helicopters and killed 18 U.S. soldiers in Mogadishu.

Washington believes three suspects in 1998 and 2002 bomb attacks in east Africa — Comorian Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, Sudanese Abu Talha al-Sudani and Kenyan Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan — have been hiding among fleeing Somali Islamists.

Kenyan authorities have arrested the wives and three children of two of those suspects, a Kenyan counter-terrorism source told Reuters on Thursday.

Mohammed and Nabhan’s wives and children were caught trying to cross into Kenya from Ras Kamboni, on Somalia’s southern tip, long thought by Western and east African intelligence agencies to be the site of a militant training camp.

The U.S. attack on Monday has drawn criticism from the United Nations, many European countries and the Arab League. Analysts say it risks a backlash from Muslims in the region.

But U.S. envoy Ranneberger said: “Somalia will not be stable as long as foreign terrorists are active there.”

He also urged the Yusuf government, set up in 2004 in a 14th attempt to restore central rule to Somalia since 1991, to become more inclusive to guarantee stability.

“We are urging the leadership…to reach out to all segments of Somali society — the business community, all clans and sub-clans, traditional religious leaders, non-governmental groups and others,” he said in the article in Kenya’s Nation.

Washington has pledged $40 million in aid and development assistance, plus to support a peacekeeping mission, he said.

Last jihadist stronghold in Somalia captured

Last jihadist stronghold in Somalia captured

Ras Kamboni, at the southernmost tip of Somalia, has been a stronghold for jihadist activity and a conduit for al-Qaeda for a number of years, as illustrated by this BBC report from December, 2001. Its capture is a significant victory.

“Islamic hideout in Somalia said captured,” by Mohamed Olad Hassan for AP:

MOGADISHU, Somalia – Ethiopian-backed government forces captured the last remaining stronghold of the Islamic movement in southern Somalia, the Somali defense minister said Friday, hours after warlords met with the president and promised to enlist their militiamen in the army.

The southern town of Ras Kamboni fell after five days of heavy fighting, Defense Minister Col. Barre “Hirale” Aden Shire told The Associated Press. He said government troops backed by Ethiopian forces and MiG fighter jets chased fleeing Islamic fighters into nearby forests and the fighting would continue. He did not give casualty figures.

Ras Kamboni is in a rugged coastal area a few miles from the Kenyan border. It is not far from the site of a U.S. airstrike Monday targeting suspected al-Qaida militants — the first U.S. offensive in Somalia since 18 American soldiers were killed here in 1993.

The report of the town’s fall came after Somalia’s warlords met with President Abdullahi Yusuf in the capital of Mogadishu and pledged to disarm their militias, a major step toward bringing calm to this city after years of chaos.

Somali Official Confirms Death of Wanted Al Qaeda Militant in U.S. Airstrike

Somali Official Confirms Death of Wanted Al Qaeda Militant in U.S. Airstrike

AP
FoxNews.com
Wednesday, January 10, 2007

MOGADISHU, Somalia  — The suspected Al Qaeda militant who planned the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in east Africa was killed in an American airstrike in Somalia, an official said Wednesday.

“I have received a report from the American side chronicling the targets and list of damage,” Abdirizak Hassan, the Somali president’s chief of staff, told The Associated Press. “One of the items they were claiming was that Fazul Abdullah Mohammed is dead.”

Brainroom: Tools of Battle, AC-130H/U Gunship

Mohammed allegedly planned the attacks on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 225 people.

He is also suspected of planning the car bombing of a beach resort in Kenya and the near simultaneous attempt to shoot down an Israeli airliner in 2002. Ten Kenyans and three Israelis were killed in the blast at the hotel, 12 miles north of Mombasa. The missiles missed the airliner.

Targeted Al Qaeda Suspects Have Long Rap Sheets

Mohammed is thought to have been the main target of an American helicopter attack Monday afternoon on Badmadow island off southern Somalia.

U.S. attack helicopters also strafed suspected Al Qaeda fighters in southern Somalia on Tuesday, witnesses said.

The two days of airstrikes by U.S. forces were the first American offensives in the African country since 18 U.S. soldiers were killed here in 1993.

U.S. Gunship Strikes Two Suspected Terror Targets in Somalia

U.S. Gunship Strikes Two Suspected Terror Targets in Somalia

AP
FoxNews.com
Tuesday , January 09, 2007

MOGADISHU, Somalia  — A U.S. airstrike hit targets in southern Somalia where Islamic militants were believed to be sheltering suspects in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies, Somali officials and witnesses said Tuesday. Many people were reported killed.

Monday’s attack was the first overt military action by the U.S. in Somalia since the 1990s and the legacy of a botched intervention — known as “Black Hawk Down” — that left 18 U.S. servicemen dead.

Helicopter gunships launched new attacks Tuesday near the scene of the U.S. airstrike, although it was not clear if they were American or Ethiopian aircraft, and it was not known if there were any casualties.

Two helicopters “fired several rockets toward the road that leads to the Kenyan border,” said Ali Seed Yusuf, a resident of the town of Afmadow in southern Somalia.

The aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower arrived off Somalia’s coast and launched intelligence-gathering missions over Somalia, the military said. Three other U.S. warships are conducting anti-terror operations off the Somali coast.

U.S. warships have been seeking to capture Al Qaeda members thought to be fleeing Somalia after Ethiopia invaded Dec. 24 in support of the government and drove the Islamic militia out of the capital and toward the Kenyan border.

The White House would not confirm the attack, nor would the Pentagon.

But a U.S. government official said at least one AC-130 gunship was used. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the operation’s sensitivity.

AC-130 gunships have elaborate sensors that can go after targets day or night. They are operated by the Special Operations Command and have been used heavily against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The airstrike occurred Monday evening after the suspects were seen hiding on a remote island on the southern tip of Somalia, close to the Kenyan border, Somali officials said. The island and a site 155 miles north were hit.

The main target was Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, who allegedly planned the 1998 attacks on the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, that killed 225 people.

He is also suspected of planning the car bombing of a beach resort in Kenya and the near simultaneous attempt to shoot down an Israeli airliner in 2002. Ten Kenyans and three Israelis were killed in the blast at the hotel, 12 miles north of Mombasa. The missiles missed the airliner.

Fazul, 32, joined Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and trained there with Usama bin Laden, according to the transcript of an FBI interrogation of a known associate. He came to Kenya in the mid-1990s, married a local woman, became a citizen and started teaching at a religious school near Lamu, just 60 miles south of Ras Kamboni, Somalia, where one of the airstrikes took place Monday.

Largely isolated, the coast north of Lamu is predominantly Muslim and many residents are of Arab descent. Boats from Lamu often visit Somalia and the Persian Gulf, making the Kenya-Somalia border area ideal for him to escape.

President Abdullahi Yusuf told journalists in the capital, Mogadishu, that the U.S. “has a right to bombard terrorist suspects who attacked its embassies.” Deputy Prime Minister Hussein Aideed told The Associated Press the U.S. had “our full support for the attacks.”

But others in the capital said the attacks would only increase anti-American sentiment in the largely Muslim country.

“U.S. involvement in the fighting in our country is completely wrong,” said Sahro Ahmed, a 37-year-old mother of five.

Already, many people in predominantly Muslim Somalia had resented the presence of troops from neighboring Ethiopia, which has a large Christian population and has fought two brutal wars with Somalia, most recently in 1977.

The U.S. Central Command reassigned the Eisenhower to Somalia last week from its mission supporting NATO-led forces in Afghanistan, said U.S. Navy spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Charlie Brown in Bahrain, where the Navy’s Fifth Fleet is based.

“Eisenhower aircraft have flown intelligence-gathering missions over Somalia,” Brown told The Associated Press.

The spokesman said the Eisenhower was the only U.S. aircraft carrier in the region. The vessel is carrying approximately 60 aircraft, including four fighter jet squadrons, he said.

Ethiopia forces had invaded Somalia to prevent an Islamic movement from ousting the weak, internationally recognized government from its lone stronghold in the west of the country. The U.S. and Ethiopia both accuse the Islamic group of harboring extremists, among them al-Qaida suspects.

Ethiopian troops, tanks and warplanes took just 10 days to drive the Islamic group from the capital, Mogadishu, and other key towns.

Ethiopian and Somali troops had over the last days cornered the main Islamic force in Ras Kamboni, a town on Badmadow island, with U.S. warships patrolling off shore and the Kenyan military guarding the border to watch for fleeing militants.

Witnesses said at least four civilians were killed in another attack 30 miles east of Afmadow town, including a small boy. The claims could not be independently verified.

“My 4-year-old boy was killed in the strike,” Mohamed Mahmud Burale told the AP by telephone. “We also heard 14 massive explosions.”

The AC-130 is armed with 40 mm guns that fire 120 rounds per minute and a 105 mm cannon, normally a field artillery weapon. The gunships were designed primarily for battlefield use to place saturated fire on massed troops.

“We don’t know how many people were killed in the attack but we understand there were a lot of casualties,” government spokesman Abdirahman Dinari said. “Most were Islamic fighters.”

U.S. officials said after the Sept. 11 attacks that extremists with ties to al-Qaida operated a training camp at Ras Kamboni and Al Qaeda members are believed to have visited it.

Leaders of the Islamic movement have vowed from their hideouts to launch an Iraq-style guerrilla war in Somalia, and bin Laden’s deputy has called on militants to carry out suicide attacks on the Ethiopian troops.

Somalia has not had an effective central government since clan-based warlords toppled dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991 and then turned on each other, sinking the Horn of Africa nation of 7 million people into chaos.

A U.N. peacekeeping force, including U.S. troops, arrived in 1992, but the experiment in nation-building ended the next year when fighters loyal to clan leader Mohamed Farah Aideed shot down a U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter and battled American troops, killing 18 servicemen.

At least 13 attempts at government have failed since then. The current government was established in 2004 with U.N. backing.

Freedom’s Successes in 2006

Freedom’s Successes in 2006
By Joseph Klein
FrontPageMagazine.com | January 3, 2007

In our ongoing war against the enemies of freedom, 2006 ended on a fairly bright note. But we must remain vigilant. 2007 will be a year of challenge and opportunity in a struggle that is of historic and global proportions.

The Islamic fascists have just suffered a humiliating defeat in Somalia. Ethiopia demonstrated what the Left in this country needs to understand – sometimes only a military solution will work to bring the bad guys to account. While “it ain’t over until it’s over,” as Yogi Berra once said, it certainly is better to have the Islamic fascists on the run, rather than allowing them to run Somalia as a strategically located African sanctuary for al-Qaeda. In short, this was a swift and devastating loss for the jihadists. As with the Taliban fundamentalists in Afghanistan, we can expect pockets of insurgency from the Somali Islamists and their al-Qaeda allies. However, we remain the winners as long as they remain out of power and deprived of a safe base from which to conduct their ‘holy’ war.

 

Iraq, of course, is a far more complicated situation. There are no clear-cut winners or losers. It has become a quagmire, with our military fatalities reaching the symbolic 3,000 mark at the end of 2006. However, it was also a year that captured for the history books the image of Saddam Hussein’s lifeless body swinging at the end of a rope that will be the companion piece to the humiliating image of Saddam being pulled out of a hole by his American captors. At least Saddam was accorded a full trial and judged by his fellow Iraqi citizens, a modicum of justice that he never accorded to his enemies while he and his dead sons were in power.

 

We are also rid of Abu Musab Zarqawi, the al-Qaeda terrorist from Jordan whom Saddam’s regime harbored prior to the American liberation of Iraq and who remained behind in Iraq as bin Laden’s chief lieutenant. Zarqawi took pleasure in killing innocent people of all faiths – including Muslims who happened to be Shiites. Indeed, that is what he and Saddam had in common. Zarqawi set in motion the chain of mosque bombings and killings that have brought the country to the brink of civil war. While his demise has done nothing to stem the sectarian violence in the short term, it has removed an implacable foe of any political solution.

 

That said, 2007 will be a very challenging year for us in Iraq. But it can also be a year of opportunity if we play our cards right. A temporary troop surge would be a mistake, providing only the illusion of security even if it were to provide a brief respite from the violence. As soon as our troop levels revert to their prior levels, the seething sectarian hatreds will boil over again into new violence. Embedding our military advisors with Iraqi security forces, while pulling back our active combat troops, would also be a recipe for disaster since our advisors will be left unprotected if the Iraqis should decide to turn on the outnumbered American advisors with the help of the insurgents.

 

The best option for the United States in 2007, among a set of bad options, is to let the civil war in Iraq play out and let the extremists from both sides kill each other. Saudi Arabia – whose own fundamentalists have provided funding to al-Qaeda – cannot afford to allow militant Shiite expansion on its border. Iran cannot afford an embarrassing loss to its partisans, nor risk the havoc that a mass influx of Iraqi refugees may cause to its fragile economy. So let the insurgent Sunnis and their al-Qaeda brothers fight it out with the militant Shiites and their Iranian brothers, while we cheer both sides’ passage to martyrdom and their reward of 72 virgins. There will be a tragic loss of innocent lives, as in any civil war, but this would occur whether we remain actively engaged or not. We might as well avoid being a part of the inevitable carnage and putting our soldiers in harm’s way in the service of no clear, winnable objective. However, this does not mean the kind of cut and run policy that is the Left’s answer to all messy problems. Instead we can concentrate with deadly force on targeting the al-Qaeda leaders and Iranian revolutionary guard forces we are able to track down in Iraq. We can also reposition some of our troops near the Iranian and Syrian borders to stem the flow of arms and foreign personnel into Iraq and Lebanon. When all is said and done, the civil war will most likely end in a stalemate, with an exhausted country perhaps more ready at that time to reach some sort of political coalition solution. The point is for us to retain a sufficient presence in the area to influence the ultimate outcome without becoming embroiled in the daily sectarian fighting.

 

Iran itself presents the most serious challenge of all because of its regional ambitions and fanatical zeal combined with oil revenues paying for its nuclear programs, but there are some encouraging signs there as well. With all of his bluster, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was running into some serious headwinds of his own as 2006 drew to a close. The U.N. Security Council finally backed up its words against Iran’s nuclear enrichment program with some sanctions, even if the sanctions were about as mild as they can be. At least, the Security Council did go on the record endorsing a path toward isolation of Iran, which the United States has had some success in accelerating through public and private pressure on foreign banks and other firms to cease doing business with Iran or suffer the consequences of lost business opportunities in the United States. Iran’s oil revenues are down, its infrastructure is in disrepair, and its economy is in serious jeopardy of collapse. Ahmadinejad’s loyalists lost some key local elections and Iranian students are more boldly protesting his oppressive regime. Facing increasing economic isolation for his foolhardy nuclear ambitions and draining needed resources at home to diversions in Iraq and Lebanon, Ahamadinejad’s regime is on the brink of imploding without our having to fire a shot. Our challenge, which is also an opportunity if handled right, is to help Ahmadinejad destroy himself and bring down the fanatical mullah theocracy that is the source of his power. To convince the Iranian people who aspire to freedom that we support their aspirations, the last thing we should do is to legitimize the present regime by ‘negotiating’ with them.

 

Finally, the end of 2006 saw the end – finally – of Kofi Annan’s disastrous tenure as UN Secretary General. Right to the end, Annan blamed everyone but himself and his UN cronies for the UN’s litany of failures during his watch, including the horrendous oil-for-food scandal that involved some of his top deputies. This was also a man who went out of his way to placate terrorists and their sponsoring states, while during his final days in office he unleashed a barrage of criticisms against the United States and Israel. Blinded to any sense of reality, one of his last pronouncements in the midst of Ethiopia’s rout of the Islamic fascists was to urge foreign forces – presumably the Ethiopians – to leave Somalia and respect its ‘sovereignty.’ What Annan never understood is that the Islamic fascists are the ones who have no respect for the aspirations of the people whom they seek to rule. They are cancers metastasizing in every body politic they are able to infiltrate.

 

Annan’s successor, South Korean Ban Ki-Moon, has to be an improvement, and signs so far are somewhat encouraging. His immediate focus, he said, will be to improve the internal operations and ethics of the U.N bureaucracy – a daunting task in itself that Annan never took seriously. Coming from a country that has prospered economically but continues to live in the shadow of the nuclear threat from North Korea, Ban Ki-Moon knows first-hand the value of freedom and the sacrifices required to preserve it. We may finally have someone we can trust running things at Turtle Bay. We’ll have to wait and see.

The year ahead will have its share of tribulations, disappointments and tragedies. But our future still remains in our hands. With courage, wisdom and patience, we can continue to win the war against the enemies of freedom so long as we remember who those enemies truly are.