Friday, May 15, 2009

Foreign fighters in Somalia

Late last month I posted an item about foreign fighters who were arriving in Somalia from abroad, working to aid al-Shabaab in its campaign to create an Islamist state. At that time, it was being reported that there were thought to be two or three dozen of these foreigners. But according to a Reuters report just out, those numbers may have increased - dramatically.

Speaking to reporters in Nairobi, the UN special envoy to Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, said that the United States has informed the Security Council that they believe there are between 280 and 300 fighters from other parts of Africa as well as abroad now in Somalia.

Some of these fighters are clearly aiding al-Shabaab in the intense fighting that's been going in and around Mogadishu for the last week: An African Union envoy told other reporters today that an Afghan man was among those killed. Moderate Somali Islamist groups are not giving in so easily to al-Shabaab, and we can expect to see more bloodshed in the weeks ahead.

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