Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Britons held in Somali clash

TimesOnLine reports that at least seven Britons are said to have been picked up as they fled with fighters from the Islamic movement when they were forced out of the capital, Mogadishu. The men, all carrying British passports and including one said to have been badly wounded, are reportedly being held by Ethiopian troops.

Last week, the voice of al-Qaeda’s second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, was posted on a website used by Islamic militants encouraging sympathisers from the West to join a campaign of suicide bombings and guerrilla warfare in Somalia.

The role of the British fighters was disclosed yesterday by Meles Zenawi, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, whose troops led the attacks that routed the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC). The UIC denies that it has links with al-Qaeda.
Mr Meles said that the Britons were found among units of the Islamic militia as well as Canadians and other Westerners in what he described as an “international brigade”. He went on to say that photographs had been taken and passports from different countries had been collected and that they had injured people coming from Yemen, Pakistan, Sudan and the United Kingdom.”

In an interview Mr Hussein, the deputy Prime Minister, identified Britain as a “major source of funding for the Islamic militants”. He said that his Government “wants to open negotiations with Somali refugees — particularly in London”, who, he claims, are the main channel of funding for the UIC.

A recent report by a United Nations monitoring group said in November that “in recent months fund raising by the Somali diaspora in the UK has resulted in donations through the hawala [banking] system of an estimated $1.1 million”. The report added that another $300,000 (£150,000) came from Somali families in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland. To Britain, however, the movement of militants is of far greater concern than the flow of cash.

British security authorities have been trying to keep a watch on the handful of British jihadists of Somali and East African backgrounds who have been smuggled into terror training camps in the jungles and swamps along the border with Kenya. Western agents have been unable to infiltrate these networks.

No comments: