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Terror Analysis: Article Archive (August 2009)
Terror Analysis: Somalia's New Role in Light of Recent Arrests

04.08.09

Australian police arrested four men, linked to the Somali terror group “al Shabaab”, who were planning to carry out suicide terror attacks in the country. The four men, aged between 22 and 26, were Australian citizens of Somali and Lebanese descent.

The cell was apparently inspired by the Somali terror group al-Shabaab, while some of its members traveled to Somalia in recent months to obtain training with the extremist group, which has ties to Al-Qaeda. It is believed the cell was already at an advanced stage of preparations for the attack and its members carried out surveillance on the targeted military facilities.

Al-Shabaab was formed during the ongoing war in Somalia which began in 2006. The group is trying to overthrow the Somali government and seeks to impose the “Shari’a” (Islamic law ) over the country. It is believed the group has close links with Al-Qaeda leaders, including East Africa‘s most wanted fugitive Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, who was a key player in the 1998 attacks on the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania (223 people died) as well as the 2002 Mombassa attacks (15 killed).

This case emphasizes a newer threat posed by the group for some time now, as it attracts recruits from the Somali Diaspora, as well as other Muslim youths around the world. In recent months, various reports indicated that more than 20 Somali American men traveled to Somalia and joined al-Shabaab troops in order to get training and combat experience. In addition to that last week a group of four Dutch citizens (one of Somali and three of Moroccan origin) were arrested in Kenya on their way to Somalia in order to obtain military and terror related trainings.

As Somalia and al-Shabaab become an attraction for young Muslims, the possibility of “Somali veterans” returning to their countries as sleeper agents becomes more and more likely. As evidenced by Iraqi “veterans” and Afghan “veterans” beforehand, those activists returning from “Jihadi arenas” pose a major threat to their home countries as they tend to use their experience in carrying out terror attacks against Western targets in their homeland.

 

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