Cablegate: Somalia: 2009 Country Reports On Terrorism


DE RUEHNR #2648/01 3551312
R 211245Z DEC 09



E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: SOMALIA: 2009 Country Reports on Terrorism

REF: STATE 109980

1. The fragile hold on power of Somalia's Transitional Federal
Government (TFG), a protracted state of violent instability, long
unguarded coasts, porous borders, and proximity to the Arabian
Peninsula, made Somalia an attractive location for international
terrorists seeking a transit or launching point for operations
there or elsewhere. Despite continuing peace efforts by the TFG
and moderate opposition, the terrorist group al-Shabaab (The Youth)
continued to control much of southern Somalia. The TFG and
peacekeepers of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) were
confined to parts of Mogadishu. Foreign fighters were involved in
al-Shabaab's fight against rival militias and the TFG. Several
foreign extremists were involved in terrorist attacks, including
suicide bombings.

2. In January the last Ethiopian troops withdrew from Somalia. On
January 31, Somalia's newly expanded parliament, meeting in
Djibouti under UN auspices, elected the former leader of the
Islamic Courts Union, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, as president of
Somalia. The move came just days after the Djibouti wing of the
Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia entered into a
power-sharing deal with the TFG. Over the next several months
Sharif announced the imposition of moderate sharia law in Somalia
and made other efforts to reach out to the opposition, but
al-Shabaab and other radical groups rejected these moves. Armed
Islamist group attacks in May through July left the TFG isolated in
Mogadishu and reliant on AMISOM for protection. The capability of
the TFG and other Somali local and regional authorities to carry
out counterterrorism activities is extremely limited. Somalia-based
piracy remained a significant threat in the Gulf of Aden and the
Somali basin. The international community continued naval
anti-piracy operations but the pirates continued to capture ships,
some while sailing hundreds of miles from Somalia's shores. While
there is no clear nexus with terrorism, such a link remains

3. Al-Shabaab, which has connections with al-Qa'ida (AQ), consists
of a disparate grouping of armed extremist militia, many of whom do
not adhere to the jihadist ideology that is held by the group's
leaders. Several senior al-Shabaab leaders are believed to have
trained and fought with AQ in Afghanistan. These leaders have
founded and support a number of training camps in Somalia for young
national and international recruits to al-Shabaab. In these camps,
AQ affiliated foreign fighters often lead the training and
indoctrination of the recruits. Al-Shabaab and other extremists
conducted suicide attacks, remote-controlled roadside bombings,
kidnappings, and assassinations of government officials,
journalists, humanitarian workers, and civil society leaders.
Al-Shabaab threatened UN and other foreign aid agencies and their

4. Foreign AQ operatives continued to operate in Somalia under
al-Shabaab's protection. These included Fazul Abdullah Mohammed
(aka Harun Fazul), and Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, wanted for the 1998
embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania and a 2002 hotel bombing in
Kenya. On September 14 special operations forces killed Saleh
Nabhan while he was traveling in a convoy of armed vehicles. In
November Fazul was reportedly named Nabhan's successor as AQ leader
in Somalia.

5. In March AQ released a video entitled "Fight on, Champions of
Somalia" in which Usama Bin Ladin urged al-Shabaab to overthrow the
TFG. On September 21, al-Shabaab proclaimed its allegiance to
Osama bin Laden in a video entitled "At Your Service, Osama". The
48-minute film was posted on Islamist Internet forums while
al-Shabaab fighters distributed DVD copies and organized public
screenings in Mogadishu.

6. During the year there were numerous high profile terrorist
attacks inside Somalia:

On February 22, a double suicide bombing on an AMISOM base killed
11 soldiers and wounded 15 others.

On March 26, a roadside bomb injured Somalia's interior minister
Sheik Abdulkadir Ali Omar and killed his secretary in Mogadishu.

On April 19, gunmen kidnapped two foreigners working for Medecins
Sans Frontieres (MSF) in Huddur, Bakool region. They were released
ten days later. Shortly after this MSF announced that
deteriorating security was forcing it to close the Huddur health
center and four others in Somalia.

On May 17, four foreign fighters and 13 other al-Shabaab members
reportedly died in Mogadishu when the vehicle bomb they were
constructing detonated prematurely.

On May 24, an al-Shabaab suicide bomber killed six policemen and a
civilian at a police headquarters in Mogadishu.

On June 18, an al-Shabaab suicide bomber killed 35 people in
Beledweyne, including TFG Security Minister Omar Hashi Aden.

On July 10, al-Shabaab militants in the city of Baidoa publicly
beheaded seven people accused of being Christians or spies for the

On July 14, al-Shabaab kidnapped two French security advisors from
their hotel in Mogadishu. One later escaped and the second is
still being held.

On July 17, armed men claiming to belong to al-Shabaab kidnapped
three foreign aid workers, including one American citizen, in
Mandera, Kenya and took them across the border into Somalia. All
were released in October, reportedly after a ransom was paid.

On July 21, the UN announced it had suspended humanitarian
operations in Baidoa after al-Shabaab fighter's looted equipment
and vehicles from the UN compound there and at the UN office in

On September 17, two al-Shabaab suicide bombers in stolen UN
vehicles killed 21 people in an attack on an AMISOM base in
Mogadishu. The dead included the deputy AMISOM commander and 16
other peacekeepers.

On November 1, a remote-controlled bomb killed five Somaliland
military officers, including a division commander.

On November 2, gunmen attempted to hijack a Daallo Airlines flight
from Bosasso, Puntland, to Djibouti. Other passengers overpowered
the hijackers and the plane returned to Bosasso.

On November 12, gunmen shot to death Puntland judge Sheikh Mohamed
Abdi Aware, who had recently jailed four al-Shabaab members.

On December 3, a suspected al-Shabaab suicide bomber disguised as a

woman killed at least 23 people, including three government
ministers, at a graduation ceremony for a university in Mogadishu.
The Danish intelligence service reported that the bomber was a
Somali citizen who had residence in Denmark.

On December 12, Somali militants unsuccessfully attempted to kidnap

an Italian nun from the town of Wajir, 50km inside Kenya.

On December 13, Puntland Vice President Col Shire survived a bomb
attack on his motorcade 30KM south of Bosasso, Puntland.

On December 14, a roadside bomb killed three policemen on patrol in

In mid-December, al-Shabaab militants reportedly killed more than
ten people who were praying at the grave of a famous Sufi sheikh in
Lower Shabelle region.

7. Western and regional nations worked to assist Somalia through
training and support for TFG security forces. On November 17, EU
Ministers of Foreign Affairs and European Defense meeting in
Brussels approved the concept of a European initiative to train the
Somali security forces.

8. The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), continued to
secure the air and sea ports and presidential compound in
Mogadishu. In November AMISOM announced a total of 80 of its
soldiers had died since deploying to the country in 2007. Uganda
had lost 37 troops killed and Burundi 43, mainly in suicide attacks
and roadside bombings.

9. POC for this CRT draft is Samuel Madsen,

© Scoop Media

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