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6601Somalia: US Bankrolls Somali Warlords to Fight Al-Qaeda: Report

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  • Zafar Khan
    May 6, 2006
      US Bankrolls Somali Warlords to Fight Al-Qaeda: Report

      http://www.islamonline.net/English/News/2006-05/05/article06.shtml

      NAIROBI, May 5, 2006 (IslamOnline.net & News Agencies)
      – The United States is bankrolling Somali warlords to
      hunt down or kill foreign fighters and "Islamic
      extremists" belonging to Al-Qaeda in Somalia, US
      officials have revealed.

      "Basically we're paying militias to pick people off,"
      a US official told Agence France-Presse (AFP) on
      condition of anonymity on Friday, May 5.

      Coordinated by the US embassy in Kenya, the US program
      envisages funds to Somali warlords to hunt down what
      Washington believes to be "Al-Qaeda operatives,"
      according to US officials.

      The program has also shared intelligence – satellite
      imagery, photographs and communications intercepts –
      about "terrorist" activities in Somalia.

      "The main objective is to neutralize the Al-Qaeda
      threat that is there," said another senior US
      official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity due
      to the sensitive nature of the program.

      Despite declining to comment, senior officials of the
      US embassy in Nairobi acknowledged contacts with the
      Somali warlords.

      They stressed that the US outreach was broad and not
      limited to just them.

      Western intelligence agencies believe three or four
      Al-Qaeda operatives are now holed up in Somalia,
      officials said.

      "Al-Qaeda is running amok there and we want to stop
      them," a US official said.

      Anti-Terror Alliance

      Under the program, US diplomats have met leaders of
      various Somali groups to urge them to turn over
      Al-Qaeda operatives.

      But special interest and support have been given to
      the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and
      Counter-Terrorism (ARPCT), a coalition of Mogadishu
      warlords formed in February to fight the Islamic
      current in the lawless country, officials noted.

      "The alliance was an idea that was kicked around last
      year and we were not absent from those discussions,"
      said one US official, referring to talks between
      warlords that led to the creation of the alliance.

      US officials declined to discuss specifics of their
      support for the alliance.

      But informed sources in Somalia said that former US
      military and intelligence officials with experience in
      Somalia have brought large satchels of cash to
      Mogadishu to fund the alliance.

      Recent recruits say the alliance is paying them 200 to
      300 dollars per month, an unusually high salary in the
      impoverished country.

      ARPCT officials did not deny receiving funds from the
      United States.

      "The alliance will accept moral and material support
      from anybody but it is purely a national initiative
      serving the interests of peace in Somalia," said
      Mogadishu warlord Mohamed Qanyare Afrah, a founding
      member of the coalition.

      He claimed that foreign fighters were operating in the
      war-torn country.

      "No one can deny the presence of foreign fighters and
      the ARPCT will not stop until those elements have been
      surrendered," he told AFP.

      A government source had told IslamOnline.net four
      cameras linked to solar cells and state-of-the-art
      equipment had been installed on the depopulated rocky
      island of Burr Gaabo by US intelligence as part of the
      US-led "global war on terror".

      Disuniting Somalia

      Somalia's transitional government has slammed the US
      program, saying it is hindering efforts to united the
      war-torn country.

      "The United States thinks that these warlords can
      seize Al-Qaeda members in Somalia, but the Americans
      should work with us instead," Reuters quoted Somali
      President Yusuf Ahmed Abdullahi as saying.

      "We really oppose American aid which goes outside the
      government."

      The Somali President was elected in 2004 by MPs
      sitting in Kenya, but his rule has been opposed by
      several of the warlords.

      Since the 1991 fall of Mohammed Siad Barre, Somalia
      has fallen into a bloody civil war.

      The African country has lacked almost all the
      trappings of a functional state, such as national
      systems of education, healthcare and justice.
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      More about Islam and Muslims in Somalia at:
      http://www.islamawareness.net/Africa/Somalia/