That’s what the jihad is all about, anywhere it arises: Imposing Islamic law. And it’s another reason the drive in some quarters (like the U.S. government) to replace “jihadist” with terms like “hirabi” is useless and counterproductive: If taking up arms to impose Islamic law (after offering conversion or subjugation, per Qur’an 9:29) were unlawful warfare (hirabah) according to Sharia, what were Muhammad and his successors doing? Of course, therein lies the connection the word games are supposed to obscure.
Somalia Jihad Update. “Islamists seize key Somali port,” by Mustafa Haji Abdinur for Agence France-Presse, August 22:
Islamist fighters wrested back control of Somalia’s southern port of Kismayo on Friday following three days of bloody battles with a local militia that left at least 41 people dead, witnesses said.
The retaking of the town by the Islamists came more than a year after they were driven out of Kismayo by Ethiopian forces backing the Somali government.
“We repelled the local militias who tried to stop the light of the Islam religion,” said an Islamist commander and spokesman, Sheikh Muktar Robow.
“We aim to implement Islamic Sharia (law) in the country and any force that tries to stop (us) will regret” it, added the spokesman, a leader of the Shabab organization, the military wing of the Islamic Courts Union which briefly controlled large parts of Somalia in 2006.
Local residents also affirmed the Islamists had seized power in Somalia’s second largest city.
“Kismayo is completely under the control of the Islamists,” said Mohamed Abdi, a trader and former government official.
Another local resident Farah Abdi said: “All militias were driven out and the town is now controlled by the Islamists.”
Three days of clashes have killed 41 people and left several hundred civilians and fighters injured, according to the most recent estimate — taking into account new deaths at Kismayo’s hospital.
“So far 335 people who were wounded in the three day clashes were admitted in the hospital and six of them died from their injuries,” a medical official at the hospital said on condition of anonymity.
Clashes erupted Wednesday between Islamist forces and the militiamen that had controlled Kismayo since the previous rulers fled in early 2007 at the height of the Ethiopian onslaught.
A commander of a local armed group denied his militia had been routed by the Islamists, claiming instead that he had ordered his men to make “a tactical withdrawal to avoid a large number of civilian casualties.”
“There is no complete takeover and our forces will regain control of Kismayo in a very short time,” said the commander, Mohamud Hassan.
Militia in Kismayo, some 500 kilometres (300 miles) south of the capital Mogadishu, are headed by Aden Barre Shire Hirale, a warlord and a lawmaker who has strained relations with President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed’s administration.
According to state television, quoting an Ethiopian army official, 36 extremists had been killed this week in joint operations by Ethiopian and Transitional Government troops.
“Twenty others were injured while two minibuses along with scores of heavy and light arms were captured during the onslaught,” the official in Mogadishu added without commenting on the capture of the port.
Ethiopian troops were deployed in late 2006 to prop up government forces battling the Islamist fighters who had taken control of much of southern and central Somalia. Kismayo was the Islamists’ last stronghold.