In spite of the news media distancing the recent attack on a ship off the coast of Somalia from global terrorism, intelligence experts believe this is just the latest operation initiated against the United States and the West by Al-Qaeda.
Recently a failed assassination attempt on the prime minister of Somalia, as well as the attempt to hijack a luxury American cruise ship, has intensified apprehension and fear that the shaky Somali government is losing to Al-Qaeda and Wahhabi terror groups.
Three people were mortally wounded in a terrorist attack on the Prime Minister, Ali Mohamed Gedi, while he was visiting the war-torn capital of Mogadishu. He survived the deadly encounter which entailed an explosion set off near his convoy, according to security experts. Mr. Gedi was merely visiting since his government is in quasi-exile in Jowhar. The danger in the Somali capital is so great that the transitional government must avoid setting up their headquarters there.
Since 2003, Somalia has witnessed the growth of a brutal network of Jihad with strong ties to Al-Qaeda. In fact, when the US forces faced a bloody battle in 1995 during what became known as the Black Hawk Down incident, it was Al-Qaeda joining with a local warlord who killed and wounded US special operations soldiers.
Somalia has been without a functioning national government for 14 years, when they received their independence from Italy. The transitional parliament created in 2004, but has failed to end the devastating anarchy. The impoverish people who live in the ruined capital of Mogadishu have witnessed Al-Qaeda operatives, jihadi extremists, Ethiopian security services and Western-backed counter-terrorism agents engaged in a bloody war that few support and even fewer understand.
In an incident that gained some American press attention, Somali-based terrorists armed with rocket-propelled grenades launched an unsuccessful attack on Seaborn Spirit as it rounded the Horn of Africa with American, British and Australian tourists on board. For unexplained reasons, the attack is being treated as an isolated incident and the terrorism link is being all but ignored by journalists. The term pirates is routinely used with only a few reporters calling the attackers terrorists.
The ship came under attack during the early morning hours when the heavily armed terrorists in two speedboats began firing upon the ship with grenade launchers and machine guns. They assailants were repelled by the ships crew who implemented their security measures which included setting off electronic simulators which created the illusion the ship was firing back at the terrorists.
According to passenger accounts of the attack, there were at least three rocket-propelled grenades or RPGs that hit the ship, one hit a passenger stateroom without inflicting injuries.
There are now some counter-terrorism officials who wish to deploy a naval task force to try to prevent attacks, and kill or apprehend these modern-day pirates in Somali waters. Most travel advisories issued by nations throughout the world recognize this area as being among the most dangerous in the world.
There are some who oppose this combative approach fearing the opening of a new front in the war on terrorism. But these opponents of using force have no suggestions for dealing with these dangerous terrorists and thugs who prey on people on land or at sea.
During the 1990s, a group of Saudi-educated, Wahhabi militants arrived in Somalia with the aim of creating an Islamic state in this dismal African country. Also, the renowned Al-Qaeda established an operations base and training camp. They would routinely attack and ambush UN peacekeepers. In addition, they used Somalia to export their brand of terrorism into neighboring Kenya.
Leading members of Al-Qaeda continue to operate, mostly in secrecy, in Somalia and have built up cooperation with some of the warlords who control food, water and medicine. And the people of Somalia starve, mourn and die.
Somalia has lacked a functioning central government since 1991. In December 2006, the Ethiopian military intervened in Somalia to support Somalia’s transitional government, opening what many considered a window of opportunity to rebuild the country and restore effective governance.
The United States has been the largest bilateral donor to Somalia, providing roughly $362 million in assistance since 2001. Recently, the Government Accountability Office reviewed documents from US and international organizations; interviewed US, United Nations (UN), Somali, and other officials; and conducted fieldwork in Kenya and Ethiopia. Overall, the GAO analysts assessed US strategy the desirable characteristics of an effective national strategy that the GAO previously developed.
Several challenges have limited US and international efforts to stabilize Somalia. The international community, including the United States, is seeking to improve the security situation in the country, mainly by funding an African Union peacekeeping operation. However, a shortage of troops has hindered peacekeepers’ ability to achieve their mission.
In addition, the most recent attempt at political reconciliation was limited, in part because several important opposition groups were not involved. For example, while this key attempt resulted in resolutions to end the conflict and return all property to its rightful owners, these opposition groups denounced the resolutions, citing their lack of participation in drafting them.
According to many officials, Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government lacks institutional structures and national acceptance, and these weaknesses have constrained US and international efforts to establish the transitional government as a fully functioning central government.
To mitigate these challenges, the international community, including the United States, is taking steps that include encouraging all parties to participate in reconciliation discussions. While the international community, including the United States, continues to provide vital humanitarian and development assistance to Somalia, its efforts have been limited by lack of security, access to vulnerable populations, and effective government institutions. The international community’s humanitarian assistance to Somalia, which primarily consists of food aid, has not reduced the country’s acute malnutrition rates, which have remained above the emergency threshold in some parts of the country.
According to United Nations officials, however, malnutrition is the result of a combination of immediate and underlying causes, including insufficient dietary intake, inadequate health care, and inadequate water and sanitation services.
Ongoing insecurity constrains the international community’s ability to monitor its provision of humanitarian and development assistance to Somalia. Furthermore, US officials’ inability to travel to the country has prevented them from independently monitoring assistance.
The international community’s plans to increase development assistance to Somalia depend on political progress and stability, which have not yet been achieved. US strategy for Somalia, outlined in the Administration’s 2007 report to Congress on its Comprehensive Regional Strategy on Somalia, is incomplete.
While the Comprehensive Strategy addresses the components required of it by US law, it does not include the full range of US government activities related to Somalia, such as Department of Defense efforts to promote regional stability, and it does not reference other key US government strategic documents for Somalia.
The Comprehensive Strategy does not fully address any of the six desirable characteristics of an effective national strategy, lacking information on necessary resources, investments, and risk management. A separate, classified report provides more information on selected US strategic planning efforts for Somalia.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he’s a staff writer for the New Media Alliance (thenma.org). In addition, he’s the new editor for the House Conservatives Fund’s weblog. Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty.
He’s former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed “Crack City” by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He’s also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He’s a news writer for TheConservativeVoice.Com and PHXnews.com. He’s also a columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, NewsCream.Com, MichNews.Com, and he’s syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. He’s appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com. Kouri’s own website is located at