Somalia: Can You Spot the al Qaeda and Special Forces?

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May 12, 2006: After six days of fighting in Mogadishu, nearly 200 have died, and many more have been wounded. Most of the casualties appear to be civilians who could not get out of the way quickly enough. Both sides are using untrained men, with guns, who don't want to get killed, and are not very accurate when they fire their weapons. Tactics consist of lots of long range, not very accurate, rifle and machine-gun fire. The gunmen don't much care if they hit any civilians. If one side runs out of ammo, or gets flanked, they will withdraw, and the other side will "win."

The warlords seem to be gaining the upper hand, and are keeping the Islamic Courts out of Mogadishu, and pushing them back. The warlords are also complaining that the Islamic Courts have received support from Yemeni Islamic radicals. Small boats have moved back and forth between Yemen and Somalia for thousands of years, and the NATO naval anti-terrorist patrols have not been able to keep the Yemen Islamists out. The Islamic Courts appear to be attracting recruits, specialists, weapons and money from sympathizers in Yemen. Some of these visitors from Yemen are al Qaeda, or very much into Islamic terrorism. Small groups of these men have been spotted, along with their weapons and large quantities (by Somali standards) of money. The offshore NATO patrols are apparently more intent on finding terrorists than pirates. But the pirates are easier to spot, and the terrorists go out of their way to look like another fishing or cargo boat.

May 10, 2006: The UN is upset that the United States may be violating the Somali arms embargo by providing "aid" to warlords who have offered to fight against Islamic terrorists. The U.S. says nothing. The proof of such aid is vague, and the UN has no one able to go into Mogadishu and conduct an investigation. American special forces have been operating in Somalis for the last few years, but any official details of these operations are secret, and the only evidence anyone has is numerous reports of tough looking, but disciplined, armed foreigners moving around inside Somalia.

May 7, 2006: After some heavy fighting last month between Islamist "Sharia Court" supporters and warlords, a brief truce was declared in Mogadishu. This seems to have come apart over the weekend. The fighting resumed, with Islamic Courts gunmen resuming their attacks on warlords that currently control Mogadishu.

 

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