Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Terrorist Hunting in Somalia

It looks like the US airstrikes against a group of al Qaeda terrorists may have yielded good results for everyone. If it pans out, then watch for these names to appear in the news as confirmed as killed or captured
America is worried about four people. To start, the deputy commander of the union’s military wing, Aiden Hashi Ayro, is said by American intelligence and a recent report by the International Crisis Group to have been trained in Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan before September 11, 2001. After the attacks, he returned to Afghanistan to join the fight against the Americans.

Mr. Ayro’s boss and commander of the union’s military, Hassan Dahir Aweys, was placed on the State Department’s list of international terrorists in November 2001 and named in a presidential executive order the same month on international terrorism. American counterterrorism officials have long said Mr. Aweys was a key source of coordination for the 1998 Al Qaeda attacks on America’s embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

Also of interest for America are Fazil Abdullah Mohammad, or Harun, and Abu Tala al Sudani, two alleged terrorists who helped plot the 1998 bombings and are now key leaders in the courts union.
Mug shots of those implicated in the embassy bombings can be found here via CNN. The jihadis get their one-way tickets to paradise punched and the US gets to eliminate a couple of jihadis who were linked to the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya that killed more than 200 people. The jihadis can run, but they can't hide forever.

Austin Bay has more.

Reuters is reporting that the US airstrikes killed significant numbers of people in the town of Hayo:
Many people died when a U.S. gunship hunting al Qaeda suspects attacked a village in southern Somalia as part of a wide air offensive against fugitive Islamists, officials said on Tuesday.

In Washington's first overt military intervention in Somalia since a disastrous peacekeeping mission that ended in 1994, an AC-130 plane rained gunfire on the remote village of Hayo late on Monday, a senior government official said.

"There are so many dead bodies and animals in the village," the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters.
There's no confirmation of who was actually killed, and the US military wasn't giving details as yet. Fox reports that there was another airstrike, but was unclear whose air force was involved. Meanwhile, the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower was deployed off the coast to potentially provide additional air capabilities to go after jihadis as they show themselves.

Elsewhere, jihadi plots were thwarted in Jordan, and more than 50 militants were killed in a fierce gunbattle in Baghdad.

More airstrikes have been reported in Somalia. MSNBC reports:
Helicopter gunships launched new attacks Tuesday against suspected al-Qaida members, a Somali official said, a day after American forces launched airstrikes in the first offensive in the African country since 18 U.S. troops were killed there in 1993.

Witnesses said 31 civilians, including two newlyweds, died in Tuesday’s assault by two helicopters near Afmadow, a town in an area of forested hills close to the Kenyan border 220 miles southwest of Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu. The report could not be independently verified.

A Somali Defense Ministry official described the helicopters as American, but the local witnesses told The Associated Press they could not make out identification markings on the craft. Washington officials had no comment.
It seems that every time that the US hits a large contingent of suspected terrorists, the first reports claim that it was a wedding; this unconfirmed report is no exception - note the claim that two of those killed were newlyweds.

Has the US been operating in Somalia for the past month in conjunction with the Somali transition government and Ethiopian forces? It certainly looks that way according to this report. Such an acknowledgement would seem to confirm the earlier reports that US aircraft had attacked Islamists' positions around Somalia last month.

Rick Moran weighs in with a posting on the US involvement in going after al Qaeda in Somalia and notes the following:
We appear to be undertaking a substantial, determined effort to make the right moves in Somalia now – both militarily and diplomatically. As to the latter, patience may be a virtue that I would urge on my lefty friends. Somalia has resisted efforts to coalesce into a nation for the past 15 years and it will take time for our policies to bear fruit; that is, if we can sustain them.

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