This is bad news for Somalia,
During a press conference held in Mogadishu today, Moallim Hashi Mohamed Farah, the top leader for Hizbul Islam in Banadir province, welcomed Osama bin Laden and other foreign fighters to visit Somalia, Mareeg reported. While inviting bin Laden and jihadists from around the globe to fight alongside his forces against the UN-backed Transitional Federal Government, Farah also said the media was wrong to refer to jihadists as foreign fighters, and that the term should be used instead for African Union forces fighting alongside the Somali government.Given how al Qaeda is on the run in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq despite the occasional terror attack focused on the citizens of those respective countries, the US, NATO, and coalition partners are thwarting al Qaeda and a Somali operation would open up a new front.
Hizbul Islam and Shabaab are considered the two top Islamist insurgent groups in Somalia. While Shabaab is widely recognized as having close ties to al Qaeda, many counterterrorism analysts and African experts consider Hizbul Islam a domestic, nationalist insurgency with no links to foreign terror groups.
But Hizbul Islam is a radical Islamist group whose top leader has ties to al Qaeda. The group is led by Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, who is wanted by the US for his links to al Qaeda. He is also on the United Nations terrorist sanctions list, again for his ties to al Qaeda.
Aweys co-led the Islamic Courts in 2006 until the group was ousted from power during the Ethiopian invasion in December 2006. Last September, Aweys advocated for more suicide attacks in the country, just days after suicide bombers struck an African Union base in Mogadishu.