In 2007 I wrote this in the Journal of International Security Affairs: “Aweys, who became the [Islamic Courts Union] group’s leader around the same time it began to gain significant power in Somalia, struck an explicitly anti-American posture and spoke of the Islamic Courts” effort to take control of Somalia as part of the global jihad, vowing to fight America and its allies ‘everywhere, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Sudan.'”
And now he is back.
“Sheikh Aweys returns to Somalia to ‘reconcile Islamist factions,'” from Garowe Online, April 23 (thanks to James):
MOGADISHU, Somalia Apr 23 (Garowe Online) – The leading opposition figure in Somalia returned to the country on Thursday after spending more than two years exiled in Eritrea, Radio Garowe reports.
Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, the former legislative head of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), arrived on a private plane at No.50 airstrip in Lower Shabelle region.
He was accompanied by a seven-member delegation from the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS), an Islamist-led opposition group that divided into two camps months before ex-ICU executive chief Sheikh Sharif Ahmed became President of Somalia.
“I will meet with anyone concerned about Somalia and my trip [to Somalia] is not influenced by foreign countries,” Sheikh Aweys told Qatar-based Al Jazeera TV, although he did not specify whether he plans to meet with President Sheikh Sharif.
Sheikh Ismail Haji Addow, a senior member of ARS-Eritrea, told reporters that Sheikh Aweys would meet with meet with different sections of society in Mogadishu to promote reconciliation among Islamist factions.
“We [ARS-Eritrea] have moved back to Mogadishu, but we will keep an office in Eritrea,” Sheikh Addow said, while underscoring that Sheikh Aweys’ main task would be to reconcile factions within the muqawama, or the resistance movement that became popular during the Ethiopian army’s two-year intervention in south-central Somalia….
Sheikh Aweys fled Mogadishu in Jan. 2007 as Ethiopian troops backing then-Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf’s interim government entered the capital and dislodged the ICU from power.
The ICU fractured into different factions and began a bloody guerrilla war, known locally as the muqawama.
Some ICU factions later joined the Somali government, but the hardliners like Al Shabaab and Hizbul Islam — to which Sheikh Aweys and the ARS-Eritrea faction is a member — have rejected to recognize the government….