Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Islamic Radicals In Somalia.

Islamic radicals seized control of the Somali capital.

The success of Islamic extremists fighting for control of Somalia's capital could prove an important setback in the U.S. war on terrorism, with the defeat of a counterterrorism alliance providing hope for militants elsewhere in the region.

Somalia's location in the Horn of Africa and its role as a cultural bridge with the Middle East has always given the country strategic importance, so much so that the United States has posted troops in neighboring Djibouti to try to prevent terror groups from taking hold in the Horn of Africa.But U.S. efforts to influence chaotic, clan-riven Somalia have consistently fallen flat, sometimes with deadly results. The United States has not carried out any direct action in Somalia since the deaths of 18 servicemen there on a humanitarian mission in a 1993 battle in Mogadishu depicted in the film "Black Hawk Down."Islamic radicals seized control of the Somali capital, Mogadishu, on Monday, defeating U.S.-backed warlords in weeks of fighting that left more than 330 people dead.

Since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, U.S. officials have expressed concerns that Somalia could become a haven for terrorists, a concern U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack repeated on Monday. "We do have real concerns about the presence of foreign terrorists in Somalia, and that informs an important aspect of our policy with regard to Somalia," McCormack said in Washington.On Tuesday he rejected suggestions that the extremists' success in Mogadishu is a severe setback for U.S. policy. The situation in Mogadishu is "very fluid" and has been for years, McCormack said.A U.S. official told The Associated Press recently that Islamic leaders in Mogadishu are sheltering three al-Qaida leaders indicted in the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. The same al-Qaida cell is believed responsible for the 2002 suicide bombing of an Israeli-owned hotel in Kenya, which killed 15 people, and a simultaneous attempt to shoot down an Israeli airliner over Kenya.Now men willing to shelter al-Qaida suspects have established their authority, if limited to Mogadishu.

The U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, confirmed that the U.S. was cooperating with the secular warlords to capture the men. But the warlords took that small goal and turned it into a bid to defeat the Islamic leaders who had within two years developed the most powerful militia in Somalia.


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