Al-Qaeda may be setting up safe haven in lawless regions of Somalia

[MOHAMED MOKHTAR/AFP/Getty Images] Members of the Al-Qaeda linked Al-Shabab movement in Somalia.

[MOHAMED MOKHTAR/AFP/Getty Images] Members of the Al-Qaeda linked Al-Shabab movement in Somalia.

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Lawlessness in Somalia might allow al-Qaeda to create a safe haven in the Horn of Africa, Yemeni Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Abubaker Abdulla Al-Qirbi said on Thursday (April 8th).

In an interview with Al-Shorfa, he added that Somalia may also "serve as a launch pad for their attacks in the region, given their previous announced plans to control the navigation routes, especially the Straits of Bab al-Mandab".

Al-Qirbi was responding to Somalia's Minister of Treasury Abd al-Rahim Othman who told Reuters Wednesday that 12 senior al-Qaeda commanders arrived in Somalia from Yemen and brought cash and military expertise to Somali rebels who are fighting against the government.

The Somali minister said this information was intercepted by Somali intelligence services.

The Al-Shabab al-Mujahideen movement, which is linked to al-Qaeda, is leading a bloody insurgency against the transition government of Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, the former leader of the Islamic Courts Union. Al-Shabab seeks to implement a strict version of sharia in all parts of war-torn Somalia.

"They brought money for Al-Shabab which is facing difficulties in recruiting more fighters because of financial constraints," Othman said.

He added that several [al-Qaeda] military commanders arrived in airports in the south under the cover of relief officers and that two of them are now in Mogadishu.

Al-Qaeda affairs analyst Ahmed al-Sufi told Al-Shorfa that the move of al-Qaeda leaders from Yemen to Somalia with their financing and field expertise, as well as the possible move of the organisation's command to southern Somalia, is likely because of the state of lawlessness that exists there. This has created a suitable environment for the growth of al-Qaeda, al-Sufi said.

"There is co-operation between the elements and cells of the organisation in several countries, especially Yemen and Somalia. The Al-Shabab movement voiced its readiness to support the organisation in Yemen following pre-emptive strikes by Yemeni security forces against al-Qaeda in Abyan province [southern Yemen] last January," he said.

Al-Sufi said Yemen has been the main battleground against terrorism recently, which put pressure on al-Qaeda members. By moving their command to Somalia, al-Qaeda is taking advantage of the security situation, where the current Somali government, backed by African Union peacekeepers, could not control the capital Mogadishu because of the rebels.

The Al-Shabab movement controls wide areas of southern Somalia and Mogadishu, prompting concerns by the international community that the porous Somali border and the absence of a strong central government could transform the country into a safe haven for extremists to carry out attacks in the region and beyond.

Political analyst Muhammad Al-Ghaberi, agrees that the move to Somalia is likely, adding that by attempting to control the water routes, al-Qaeda seeks to portray itself as a stronger power than the major powers in the world in addition to drawing media attention. But in reality the organisation cannot control the straits of Bab al-Mandab, he said, because international forces are protecting international navigation routes. In addition, controlling the straits of Bab al-Mandab requires huge military resources and cannot be achieved.

Al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula rose to the top list of international security concerns after the leader of the group in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attempted attack of a US passenger plane in December 2009.

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    محمد فتحي

    2012-5-27

    The movement of al-Shabaab made many mistakes to prevent many of the humanitarian organizations from working under different pretexts and justification. This worsened the suffering of the people as a result of diseases and hunger in addition to imposing many restraints that may contradict with the social traditions and conventions, which is affected by the extremist thoughts. Hence, they started killing the innocent people based on doubts and without verifying the authenticity of things. The members of this movement carried out a suicide attack that killed a group of Somali doctors who were celebrating their graduation. This represented a heavy loss to Somalia, which will fail to provide medical care to the people. In addition, a number of ministers and the officials in the government were killed too. The al-Shabaab movement also is involved in some inhumane acts all over Somalia, which led to the spread of a serious state of fear and terror among the people who became deprived of the security and stability in their country.

  • بدر سميحان مسعد

    2010-7-28

    Al-Qaeda does not belong to any religion or doctrine but to the takfiri doctrine, which accuses all those who love their country and want to live a pleasant life, of infidelity. All those who belong to the terrorist al-Qaeda are of fossilized minds that do not listen to any person or cleric who advises citizens to live in peace. They blow up his house or his car, and kill or kidnap him or his children or one of his relatives. This makes them monsters, not humans. Al-Qaeda includes a lot of murderers and criminals who do not have a religion or sect, but they are convinced they are applying Shari'a, i.e. Islamic law. This has led most of the Western world countries that do not know much about Islam and non-Muslim people to form a bad idea of Islam as an arbitrary and terrorist religion. They consider every honorable Muslim to be a member of terrorist al-Qaeda. But the truth is that Islam is a religion of peace and security for all people, and does not allow killing or detonating anyone from any sect or religion. But they have distorted Islam according to their whims; Muslims do not kill, rape girls, steal money or abduct children. Thus, al-Qaeda has no religion, doctrine or sect to which it belongs; only disbelief in Allah, His Messenger, His books and Islamic principles. It does not recognize all the sublime social norms, which state that human beings should love one another, and that there is no compulsion in religion.

  • قاسم

    2010-5-28

    There are countries that sponsor terrorism just to achieve their own objectives, and to steal from other countries. They provide support to terrorists in order to carry out their own agendas in any place that terrorists are found, and they call this jihad, while all of this is selfish interests in the proper sense of the word. All of this is criminal, and they will be punished for that both in this world and in the next. If those financing terrorism are not eventually exposed one day, and do not face trial and receive their due sentences, they will be judged in the heavens, and Allah will exact justice from them, and will make them answer for the innocent people whose deaths they caused.

  • محمود راشد

    2010-4-12

    What does al Qaeda want? Do they only want to cause destruction?