June 06, 2006

Islamists Take Mogadishu, Set up Sharia Courts: Echos of Kabul

magadishu_women_koran.jpgAs reported by Vinnie yesterday at The Jawa Report, Islamist militias with ties to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network have succeeded in taking over the capital of Somalia, Mogadishu. It should never be forgotten that al Qaeda's first sucess was in fighting American troops in Mogadishu during the famous "Black Hawk down" incident.

Although not mentioned in the movie by the same name, Osama bin Laden later admitted that he had sent fighters into Somalia to help warlord Mohammed Farah Aidid. Bin Laden, it is said, had had a mystic "vision" in which U.S. was revealed as a paper tiger & that American forces would withdraw from Somalia, defeated. When his "vision" came true, many came to think of bin Laden as a man with supernatural powers.

Thousands of U.S. troops are currently stationed in Djibouti, which borders Somalia to the north. Strategy Page (via Glenn) has the Somalia timeline.

We cannot afford to lose the Horn of Africa to Islamists.

Reuters:

The Islamic side, which supports sharia courts in Mogadishu, announced they controlled the city in radio broadcasts and public meetings. Both residents and some members of the warlords' own militia said the city was in Islamic hands.

"The era of warlords in Somalia is over," resident Mohamed Asser said. "This morning Mogadishu is under only one hand, the Islamic courts."

This is eerily similar to the takeover by the Taliban--which means "scholar" or "students"--of Kabul. The Taliban promised an end to the violence of the fighting warlords and a restoration of order. It was only later that we learned the harsh reality of Islamic law's "order" in Afghanistan.

Today, protests erupted in the Somali capital over the new Islamist masters of the city. The protests, though, seem to be along tribal lines. Times:

Hundreds protested today against the Islamist takeover of the capital of Somalia....

At least 1,000 protesters, from the Abgal clan, a faction of the Hawiye tribe that used to control much of northern Mogadishu, rallied in a football stadium and on the streets.

"We want to establish an Abgal sub-clan defence line, politically and militarily," said Hussein Sheikh Ahmed, an Abgal leader. "Advances into Abgal territory should be halted immediately."

And how has the U.N. backed interim government reacted to the take over of the nation's capital by Islamist militias who want to impose harsh Sharia law?
Today's protests, which were left unhindered by Islamist militias, came as the interim Somali Prime Minister, Mohamed Ali Gedi, congratulated the Muslim forces on taking control of the city.

Mr Gedi called the Islamist victory, which the US fears could lead to the development of a Taleban-style African state, "an excellent step forward" today, telling Radio France Internationale that the fallen warlords had been "hurting the reconciliation, stabilisation and pacification of Somalia".

Echos of Kabul, ringing in my ears.

More on why we should worry from All Africa:

Al Qaeda elements responsible for the 1998 US embassy bombings in Nairobi and Tanzania and the 2002 attack on the Paradise Hotel in Kikambala near Mombasa have been moving in and out of Somalia with the aid of local sympathisers, according to US officials.

Preventing Somalia from becoming a second safe haven for al Qaeda has been a primary objective of American policy in the Horn of Africa ever since US forces ousted Afghanistan's Taliban regime in 2001. The Afghan Islamist group had provided al Qaeda with the protection and resources needed to plot the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.

Apparently there is a faction within the State Department which believes we should be working with the Islamists to stabilize Somalia. Recently, Michael Zorick voiced that opinion and was immediately tranferred from his Somalia desk.

The theory goes that we should stabilize first, and then worry about al Qaeda sympathies later. Which, of course, is the same arguement I heard when Kabul was "liberated" by the Taliban. That "stability" was more important than the radical political philosophy of the group--which at the time no one really understood very well.

So, our covert proxy war in Somalia seems not to be working. But is the alternative the installatioin of another Taliban-like government in the Horn of Africa in the name of stability? Insanity!

Related: Kim at Wizbang: "As far as the Islamists are concerned, there is no Transitional Federal Charter of Somalia."

John at Op-For: "Another collapsed state that has the potential to turn into a big-time breeding ground. Somalia is starting to look alot like pre-Enduring Freedom Afghanistan." Indeed.

Malkin: Not Good.

Rule 308: "You want sharia? Have it, be my guests. But I bet you won't like it."

Sandbox: "True democracy cannot coexist with Sharia law."

If the Onion were half as funny as this, I'd subscribe.

This Boston Globe article reports on the covert operations the U.S. has been engaged in:

For two years, CIA officials have traveled frequently to the Mogadishu area and other Somali cities in hopes of learning more about and disrupting small bands of Al Qaeda members, who also operate in Kenya, Tanzania, and Ethiopia, Kenyan pilots and two Somali warlords said recently in interviews. US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, have said that three Al Qaeda members indicted in the 1998 US Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania were still being protected by Islamists in Mogadishu.

In surrounding countries, and even in Somalia's semi-autonomous northern regions of Somaliland and Puntland, US covert officers have developed close relationships with governments and local powers.

In southern and central Somalia, CIA officers have relied on electronic eavesdropping and developing close ties with various warlords, paying them tens of thousands of dollars in some visits, two warlords said in interviews. The two -- Yusuf Mohammed Said , the ruling warlord in Marka , about 60 miles south of Mogadishu, and Mohammed Dhere , the warlord in Jowhar, about 40 miles east of the capital -- along with Kenyan-based pilots, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the situation, said US intelligence relied especially on warlords who controlled airports to monitor traffic in and out of the country.

"In this country, the US has been able to do what it wants to do," Dhere, who said he had extensive contact with US intelligence officials for more than two years, said in February, just as the Islamist militias began their battle in Mogadishu. "I think that without the US efforts or interference, the country would fall into terrorist hands."

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 10:04 AM | Comments |