Wednesday, January 29, 2014
South Sudan Conflict: Fighting carries on in despite peace deal
FILE - In this Monday, Feb. 13, 2012 file photo, an armed member of the militant group al-Shabab attends a rally on the outskirts of Mogadishu, in Somalia. Abu Mohamed, an al-Shabab commander, told The Associated Press Monday, Jan. 27, 2014 that Sahal Iskudhuq, who was killed in Sunday’s U.S. missile attack, had previously been in charge of kidnappings of foreigners and ransom deals for the group but recently turned to working with its intelligence unit. (AP Photo, File)Deadly US missile attack in Somalia underscores stepped-up pressure on al-Shabab militants
FILE - In this Monday, Feb. 13, 2012 file photo, an armed member of the militant group al-Shabab attends a rally on the outskirts of Mogadishu, in Somalia. Abu Mohamed, an al-Shabab commander, told The Associated Press Monday, Jan. 27, 2014 that Sahal Iskudhuq, who was killed in Sunday’s U.S. missile attack, had previously been in charge of kidnappings of foreigners and ransom deals for the group but recently turned to working with its intelligence unit. (AP Photo, File)
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) - A U.S. missile strike that killed a high-ranking intelligence officer for al-Shabab has illustrated the stepped-up pressure on the al-Qaida-linked militants, both from American attacks and from African Union ground troops.
An al-Shabab commander said one of two men killed in Sunday's attack on a moving vehicle was Sahal Iskudhuq, who helped choose bombing targets and used to be in charge of kidnapping foreigners.
Commander Abu Mohamed told The Associated Press on Monday that al-Shabab will "retaliate with a bigger blow and pain against the enemy."
It was al-Shabab gunmen who attacked Nairobi's upscale Westgate Mall with guns and grenades last September, killing at least 67 people. But there was no immediate indication Iskudhuq had been involved in planning that assault.
Somali officials said they believe the missile was fired from a drone.
The U.S. has carried out several airstrikes in Somalia recent years, though not nearly as many as in Pakistan, which has seen hundreds of attacks, or in Yemen, which has seen scores.
A Pentagon spokesman, Army Col. Steven Warren, said Monday he could confirm a U.S. military operation against a senior al-Qaida and al-Shabaab leader in a remote area near Barawe. He would say nothing else about it, including the outcome of the operation or the name of the target.
But Mohamed identified the probable target as Iskudhuq, who he said was with al-Shabab's intelligence unit, helping plan attacks.
Previously, Iskudhuq had been in charge of kidnappings of foreigners and organizing ransom deals, he said. He also was a trusted friend of al-Shabab's spiritual leader, Ahmed Abdi Godane, under whose direction the extremists forged an alliance with al-Qaida.
Iskudhuq's driver was also believed killed in the strike, the commander said.
Under cover of darkness Sunday night, masked fighters collected what remained of the militants — bits of flesh from the charred hulk of the car in which they had been travelling, Mohamed said.
Mohamed, who visited the scene, said the fighters chanted, "God is great" as they put the body parts in sacks. They then sped away in pickup trucks to bury the men, whose bodies were charred beyond recognition, he said by telephone.
Somalia's president said the killing is "another blow" to the Islamic rebels who have been pushed back by African Union troops. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said on Twitter that Somalia's government is working with its partners to eliminate al-Shabab from Somalia.
Last week, more than 4,000 troops from neighbouring Ethiopia officially joined a peacekeeping force under the African Union banner.
Al-Shabab has been in decline since being ousted from the Somali capital, Mogadishu, by African Union forces in 2011, and now the group's leaders also are being targeted by missiles fired by U.S. drones.
Sunday's strike underscores the increasing importance with which Western powers view counterterrorism operations in the Horn of Africa.
Last October, a U.S. military strike in Somalia hit a vehicle carrying senior members of al-Shabab, killing its top explosives expert.
Earlier that month, U.S. Navy SEALs raided a coastal Somali town to take down a Kenyan al-Shabab member. The SEALs withdrew before capturing or killing their target.
Prof Muse Tegegne
- Prof. Muse Tegegne has lectured sociology Change & Liberation in Europe, Africa and Americas. He has obtained Doctorat es Science from the University of Geneva. A PhD in Developmental Studies & ND in Natural Therapies. He wrote on the problematic of the Horn of Africa extensively. He Speaks Amharic, Tigergna, Hebrew, English, French. He has a good comprehension of Arabic, Spanish and Italian.