Archive for the ‘Africa’ Category
The al Shabaab Islamist movement has been having a difficult go at it lately. It was recently kicked out of almost all of Mogadishu, allowing in the provisional government. AMISOM fighters have also dislodged the Islamist fighters from other parts of the country and have brought in reinforcements. Now a large chunk of al Shabaab’s militias have defected:
An entire faction called Hizbul Islam, has also split from the larger al-Shabaab and is likely to side with the Somali government.
No doubt the terror group is attempting a new offensive in the capital, but seem to be losing momentum quickly.
The Long War Journal reports that the Treasury Department has placed sanctions on two Eritrean government officials for supporting al-Shabaab, Al-Qaeda’s branch in Somalia that is frighteningly effective at recruiting Westerners, including over 40 Americans, to its ranks. One al-Shabaab member aspiring to become a suicide bomber was just arrested at Olympic Park in London. The U.S. has been warning about Eritrea’s support for Al-Shabaab since at least 2009, so why hasn’t it been designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism?
These aren’t rogue officials. Taeme Abraham Goiton is the director of an intelligence service. Tewolde Habte Negash is an intelligence officer who has worked with Al-Shabaab for years through the embassy in Kenya. He oversees their training, especially in explosives and gives them money and passports.
Al-Shabaab members are even trained inside Eritrea. One member learned how to carry out suicide bombings and set off car bombs there between 2007 and 2009. About $75,000 is givento Al-Shabaab every single month through the embassy in Kenya. The United Nations says that Eritrean support is “small but troubling.” The U.N. also says that Eritrea supports militants in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Sudan and possibly Uganda.
Mali has just gone to hell.
The aftermath of last week’s coup by dissatisfied soldiers, who rebelled in part because of President Toure’s handling of the Toureg rebellion in the North, has been devastating for the nation: allies are enforcing crippling economic sanctions for overthrowing the democratic government and the rebels control the entire North now.
Including the ancient trading city of Timbuktu, which fell early this morning to the rebels, who are descendants of nomadic clans attempting to declare their centuries old herding lands where they’ve historically dwelt as an independent nation. They are also fighting alongside Islamists aligned with al-Qaida.
Mali soldiers were fleeing Timbuktu as the rebels advanced, leaving only arab militia’s to defend it, who apparently weren’t able to hold it for long.
Neighboring governments should immediately put the coup down, restore President Toure until the scheduled election is held in the next couple of weeks and push the al-Qaida alligned rebels back to the Stone Age. There is absolutely no excuse for Mali’s dire situation to be ignored…… and unless we act now, who knows how much more will be lost.
What say you?
The Sudanese regime is on its way to becoming the next Iran, regardless of whether President Omar Bashir remains in power or not. The country is moving towards becoming a full-blown Sharia state, comparable to Iran, Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan under the Taliban. Towards that end, 500-700,000 Christians have been told to pack up and leave by April 8 or they’ll be treated as foreigners.
The Bashir regime has always been an enemy of the U.S. and those who value human rights but it is now doing everything it can to please its Islamist opposition. The regime knew it would raise the ire of the Islamists when it allowed the mostly-Christian region of South Sudan to become an independent country. In the hopes of staving off a rebellion, Bashir promised to remodel his country based on Sharia Law with Arabic as the only official language. He also promised not to seek another term in 2015.
Bashir’s most powerful opponent is a cleric named Hasan al-Turabi, the leader of the Sudanese branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. It is hard to overstate his impact on the growth of Islamic extremism and terrorism. He has been called “Sudan’s Osama”and “The Pope of Terrorism.” After helping Bashir come to power, Turabi used his base in Sudan to build close relationships with every virtually single Islamic terrorist group and government. He worked hard to bring together secularists like Saddam Hussein, Sunni radicals like Osama Bin Laden and Shiite radicals like Iran and Hezbollah into a common anti-Western front. Turabi became close with Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, though he today criticizes some of their tactics as being “counterproductive.”
After South Sudan seceded, the Islamists demanded that Bashir made good on his word. They formed the Islamic Constitution Front and drafted a Sharia-based constitution. The imam of Khartoum’s Grand Mosque endorsed it and said Bashir must “either rule by Islam or go.” Other members of the group explicitly said they’d revolt if their wishes aren’t granted.
The al-Shabaab Islamist movement has been dealt a heavy blow in Somalia. The branch of al Qaeda has been driven out of the town of Baidoa, which had been one of its strongholds. It has also been removed from the country’s capital, Mogadishu. The city was captured by a joint Ethiopian-Somali expedition.
Witnesses say that after fierce fighting on Tuesday, al-Shabab fighters pulled out of Baidoa – which was then taken on Wednesday without a battle.
BBC Somali service analyst Abdullahi Sheikh says Baidoa is a big loss to al-Shabab, as the main road linking Mogadishu to the south-west and parts of Kenya and Ethiopia passes through the city.
Some more good news. Perhaps this will start a cascading effect.
African-based terrorist group, Boko Haram, according to a report by the U.S. Representatives Subcommittee on Counter-Terrorism and Intelligence, has quickly evolved and poses an emerging threat to the U.S. The report reveals that Boko Haram “has the intent and may be developing capability to coordinate on a rhetorical and operational level” with al Qaeda. The report emphasizes that heed should be taken in view of the group’s rapid progression.
As was the case with al Shabaab, though Boko Haram’s activities have largely been confined to African countries, the group’s size and scale of operations should not lead the West into a false sense of security. Both al Qaeda and the Taliban, as newly formed groups, were viewed by the intelligence community as regionally focused and therefore not a threat to the West.
Boko Haram, which literally means “Western education is forbidden,” uses as its official name “Jama’atul Alhul Sunnah Lidda’wati wal Jihad” and that is translated to mean “people committed to the propagation of the Prophet’s teachings and jihad.” Interestingly enough, when founded, in the mid-1990s, violence wasn’t part of Boko Haram’s vision. It was not, in fact, until Mohammed Yusuf, a Nigerian civil service employee took over at the helm of the group. At this point, they began referring to themselves as the Nigerian Taliban. Adopting a rustic lifestyle, they established a camp in a remote area of the northeast part of the country.
Over the past couple of years, however, a significant surge in the frequency and level of violence of Boko Haram attacks has occurred. Aside from the recent Christmas bombings, another example of this was seen on August 26, 2011 when a suicide bomber drove a vehicle borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) into the U.N. headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria. The attack left 23 dead and more than 80 others injured. Responsibility for the bombing, which was one of the deadliest in the U.N’s history, was claimed by Boko Haram. While this attack occurred within Nigerian borders, it was the first time Boko Haram had targeted an international, non-Nigerian entity.
Indeed, Boko Haram has experienced rapid advancement since the days of launching attacks with a few sticks of dynamite. And, it has been an unusually swift progression.
The findings and recommendations, regarding Boko Haram, compiled by the U.S Representatives Subcommittee on Counterterrorism can be found here.
Kenya has made news in the last month, following its decision to enter nearly-lawless Somalia to clear out al-Shabaab jihadists. Kenya has made some progress in this effort, although its troops are not directly a part of the African Union’s peacekeeping force in the country, AMISOM.
However, Kenya is now openly considering officially joining the mission.
At State House in Nairobi yesterday President Kibaki met Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni and Somalia’s President Sheikh Ahmed Sharif to discuss the situation in Somalia.
They agreed that Kenya should send more soldiers to Somalia but as part of the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom). The original Kenyan force sent to Somali was an estimated 1,200 but may now have risen to up to 4,000. The Kenyan Army is around 60,000 strong, while the Ugandan Army is about 80,000 strong.
Should Kenya be able to pacify the south of Somalia and Sierra Leone enter at least some forces, there may be some stability. However, it appears that far more troops would be required.
Meanwhile, neighboring Ethiopia, which had invaded Somalia in 2006 to remove the Islamic Courts jihadists, is considering a new role in the country. Ethiopia supports the AU mission and has brought some more troops into the country during incursions.
Two senior United Nations peacekeeping officials were at African Union headquarters this week for a briefing on the Somalia strategy, which includes asking for U.N. authorization to double the size of the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to 20,000 troops. Diplomats say the plan calls for Kenyan troops to be brought under the AMISOM command, but not Ethiopian troops.
With a conference slated for next Friday, Somalia’s future may look a little brighter.
The African Union has declared that the Islamist group al-Shabaab has been ejected from the capital. The al-Qaeda linked group made a claim that it had killed 70 AU personnel in Somalia. Now, it appears that their withdrawal from Mogadishu is complete.
“In the north east of the city we are witnessing a combination of conventional warfare as well as asymmetrical warfare. It is of course quite a challenge and sends a big reminder to the troop contributing countries that we should be expediting the deployment of the remaining 3,000 troops,” he said.
The African Union also made a plea for more troops. Most of the forces deployed in the peacekeeping force are from Uganda and Burundi.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni stressed earlier today that the 100 U.S. combat troops deployed to assist and train his forces in their fight to defeat Joseph Kony’s LRA are more like ‘personnel’ than troops, since they wont actually be fighting.
This comes after near-media panic on Friday that this would become another Vietnam, or some nonsense, and further speculation that we are entering Uganda because George Soros has oil interests there, or some crazy conspiracy theory nonsense.
Our reasoning for aiding Uganda is simple: they have contributed thousands of soldiers to the ongoing war in Somalia to defeat the al-Qaida linked al-Shabab terrorist network that has wrecked havoc in the country for decades now and we’re stepping up our assistance to their fight as thanks, and because that’s what allies do.
Five thousand years ago the Hebrew people left Egypt for their promised land in Canaan, or now modern day Israel. They endured almost four hundred years of bondage until they were delivered by Moses. Now we might be witnessing the beginning of a second exodus.
With the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak earlier this year, Coptic Christians, who received decent treatment under his regime, have been concerned about the growing Islamist influence of Egypt’s political society. It’s disconcerting to know thousands of Copts have already fled, but the outright murder of two dozen of them Sunday is absolutely infuriating.
The military is not protecting them; the state television blamed them for the out-of-control protests Sunday; the United States is more focused on elections than religious liberty, and the situation seems to be declining by the minute.
I fear the Copts, one of the last Christian communities in the Arab world, might have to flee to Ethiopia, or Europe, or even the United States within the near future, because Egypt continues to backslide towards an dark Islamist future where religion becomes the oppressor rather than the deliverer.
Pray for the Copts.
The decision to send 100 U.S. combat troops to Uganda – in accordance with The LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009 – passed in March 2010, to hunt down LRA leader Joseph Kony and train Ugandan soldiers might have caught Americans off-guard, but Ugandan officials are quite pleased.
Uganda said Saturday it welcomed US combat troops to help its forces battle the Lord’s Resistance Army, a brutal rebel force whose leaders are international war-crime fugitives.
“We welcome this gesture — it has been well overdue,” said Uganda’s acting foreign minister Henry Okello Oryem.
United States troops will not be fighting the LRA, except in self defense, but we will be using our intelligence assets to track down the leader, who is responsible for unimaginable crimes against innocents in Uganda and neighboring countries, and hopefully defeat his terrorist organization.
I support this action by the United States government and hope some of our allies, particularly Great Britain or France, join in our efforts to defeat Kony’s terrorist organization that has wrecked havoc in Africa for two decades
Some terrible news coming out of Mogadishu. At least 70 people were killed today when a large truck bomb exploded in the worst attack in months. This comes after al-Qaeda affiliated al-Shabaab left much of the capital. The fundamentalist group claimed responsibility:
“Al-Shabab carried out that attack,” a spokesman for the insurgents told Reuters. “Our target was the ministries.”
The jihadists were attempting to kneecap Somalia’s future:
“The casualties are mostly students and parents who were waiting for results of scholarships from the Ministry of Higher Education,” the government said. “The attack shows that the danger from terrorists is not yet over and that there are obviously still people, who want to derail the advances that the Somali people have made towards peace.”
Hopefully the UN and AU will respond with more peacekeepers.
In February, four Americans were held for ransom by Somali pirates and executed. The pirates have the viciousness, skills and assets to bring havoc to the seas for a price, and Islamist terrorists are willing to pay. The U.S. commander for Africa predicts that Al-Qaeda will team up with the pirate gangs, as terrorist groups see maritime targets as a weak point for their enemies.
The U.S. commander overseeing Africa, General Carter Ham, confirms that the Al-Qaeda affiliate in Somalia, al-Shabaab, is making money from piracy off the coast of East Africa. He predicts that Al-Qaeda will directly become involved with the Somali pirates if the problem is not tackled. Pirate activity sharply increased in 2008, coinciding with advances by al-Shabaab. The partnership between the pirates and terrorists is usually not one of ideological affinity, but of business and sometimes, coercion. For example, in February, al-Shabaab members forced a group of pirates to give them 20 percent of what they earn from ransoms. “They demanded we allow six of their fighters to board each of our hijacked ships. We have not left our houses…Worse, we are constantly receiving threatening text messages,” one pirate said.
In April 2008, a group of Somali pirates got paid a $1.2 million ransom to let a Spanish fishing vessel and 26 hostages go free. Al-Shabaab received five percent of the payment. Predictably, such payments to the pirates encouraged them to continue their profitable practices. There have been dozens of hijackings, hostage-takings and raids since, appeasing the pirates and indirectly financing terrorists. In April 2009, former ambassador to Ethiopia and expert on East Africa, David H. Shinn, said that al-Shabaab sometimes receives a protection fee from the pirates of 5 to 10 percent. If the group trains the pirates, it earns 20 percent. If the Al-Qaeda affiliate finances the entire operation, the commission is as high as 50 percent.
As unlikely as it may seem, a U.N. report says that Al-Qaeda’s Somali affiliate, al-Shabaab, is being financed by the “Christian” dictator of Eritrea, Isaisas Afewerki. The report also implicates the regime in a massive bomb plot against the African Union in Ethiopia in January. Al-Shabaab has proven frighteningly effective in recruiting Americans, and any regime helping it must be immediately placed on the State Department’s list of State Sponsors of Terrorism.
The danger of Eritrea’s support for terrorism was laid bare in the U.N.’s report exposing that the regime attempted “mass casualty attacks against civilian targets” in January. The mayhem was to begin with the detonation of a car bomb at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. At the same time, the largest market in Africa would be bombed, and the area between the Ethiopian Prime Minister’s office and the Sheraton Hotel where the African Union leaders stay would come under attack. One of the participants said he was told by his Eritrean superiors to make “Addis Ababa like Baghdad.”