Somali Jihad Update from CNN: “Bin Laden message: Somalia is front in war on U.S.”
MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — The hard-line Muslim leaders who control much of southern Somalia claimed nationwide authority, while the latest message attributed to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden describes the Horn of Africa nation as a battleground in his
global war on the U.S.
Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, leader of the militia’s executive council, made the claim of authority throughout the country Thursday, striking yet another blow to Somalia’s largely powerless but internationally recognized interim government.
In a weekend restructuring, the relatively moderate Ahmed was replaced as the Islamic group’s overall leader by Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, who is on the U.S. terrorist watch list as a suspected collaborator with al Qaeda.
“We hope this council will be more effective than the one before,” said Ahmed, who had been reaching out the interim government and the West before he was named to the executive council on Saturday night.
U.S. fears al Qaeda hotbed
The developments in Somalia are of particular interest to the United States, which has long-standing fears the Horn of Africa nation will become a haven for bin Laden’s terrorist organization, much like Afghanistan did in the late 1990s.
On Thursday, U.S. lawmakers told a House of Representatives panel in Washington that the United States has failed to develop a coherent policy to stop that from happening.
In an audio message purportedly put out by bin Laden — released on an Islamic Web forum where militants often post messages and bearing the logo of al Qaeda’s production branch — the speaker vows to continue to fight the U.S. and its “allies everywhere, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Sudan ….”