Counter-Terrorism: American Terrorists In Somalia

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November 28,2008: In a pattern that has long been noted in Europe, the U.S. is now seeing many Moslem-Americans leaving the country and taking up the cause of Islamic terrorism overseas. In this case, a 28 year old naturalized American citizen of Somali descent, was recently identified as a suicide bomber, who killed himself in an attack in Somalia last month. The FBI has since discovered that a dozen or more Somali men have, well, disappeared, and may have ended up in Somalia. This is not new, however. Expatriate Somalis in North America, Europe and elsewhere have been supporting the various warring factions in Somalia for years. Family and tribal ties are strong in Somalia, and remain strong even when Somalis migrate.

On the down side, one of the more powerful factions in Somalia is the Islamic Courts, which enforces Islamic law in order to bring some sense of peace and stability to the country. The Islamic Courts are run by Islamic conservatives, some of  whom are friendly with Islamic terrorists and al Qaeda. This prompted the U.S. to back clan leaders and warlords who oppose the Islamic Courts (which are dominated, in turn, by a few clans and tribes). American Special Forces have been inside Somalia collecting information, and found that the Islamic Courts provided al Qaeda with an opportunity to establish bases in Somalia.

Two years ago, the UN looked at the situation and reported that the Islamic Courts have been receiving money and weapons from several Moslem countries, including Syria, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Egypt, Eritrea, Djibouti and Saudi Arabia. At the time, the UN believed that the core of the Islamic Courts fighting force consists of about a thousand Islamic militants, many of them Al Qaeda members. Some of these gunmen were Somalis who had gone off to fight for Islamic terrorism in other countries. But now that the Islamic Courts had plenty of cash, they were able to hire these experienced fighters, and get them to return to Somalia. This recruiting effort also brought in volunteers from Somali immigrant communities abroad.

Not all expatriate Somalis support the Islamic Courts movement, but many of those who do believe that Islamic radicalism is the cure for Somalias problems (mainly, no government for the last two decades, and centuries of tribal warfare before that.) Expatriate Somalis who return to try and help, are all faced with the threat of tribal violence, or banditry. Money and expatriate volunteers can't do much to solve this problem, thus the appeal of the Islamic Courts. While many of these expatriate Islamic Courts fans do not support al Qaeda, they justify, or at least tolerate, Islamic radicalism in Somalia because they see no other solution to the country's problems.

There have been some non-Somali Americans who have gone off to join Islamic terrorist groups, but there are not a lot of them, especially compared to Europe.

 


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