US Military begins Somalia offensive against Al- Qaeda
Interim government backs action
 Amin George Forji
   The crises in Somalia have now taken on a new face, with the US military joining to track down suspected Al Qaeda operatives. Heavily armed gun ships from the US military base in Djibouti are said to have launched a series of military strikes on Monday night and later in the day on Tuesday in two villages called Badel and Hayi, in the town of Afmadow in the south of the country, said to be used a safe haven and breeding ground for terrorists, many of whom were purportedly involved in the 1998 bombing of US embassies in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. The Somalia radio said on Tuesday that an Air Force AC-130 and the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower were used in the operation. Air Force AC-130 planes are said to be very effective in the cover of darkness.

Several rockets are said to have been directed to the roads that link up with the Kenyan borders. The so-called anti-terror operations are aimed at preventing Al-Qaeda operatives though to be hiding in he country from fleeing. Tehran Times reported as many as 27 people dying in the strikes, but the figure remains to be confirmed.
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In an early broadcast on the US intervention, the Somalian radio station further announced on Tuesday that the US began the strikes after suspects were spotted fleeing along the villages in the remote island. The main target, the station speculated was most likely Fazul Abdullah Mohammed and his associates, thought to he hiding in the region. Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, a well known Al-Qaeda terrorist who received training in Afghanistan is thought to be the master minder behind the 1998 embassy bombings that claimed the lives of at least 230 people and wounded over 4,000 others. He has been accused of behind several coordinated car bombings in the middle east, including the 2002 failed attempt to bring down an Israeli airliner in Mombassa.

 The attacks marks US first direct intervention in the country since the mission in the  90s, when armed militias butchered 18 US troops and dragged their bodies through the streets of Mogadishu , and shown on international news media, leading an eventual premature withdrawal.

Hunt for Islamist Leaders

When Ethiopia launched an assault on the Union Of Islamic Courts (UIC) since Dec. 25th 2006, the USA was one of the first countries to praise the move saying they were justified because they came at the request of he legitimate government in the country. At he dawn of he new year, the Islamists had been uprooted from virtually every spheres of control, having seized much of the southern part of the country, except Baidoa, where the transitional government was based.

   As the Ethiopian mission proved to be a success, the US joined in, firs from outside Somalia, stationing her navy along the Kenya coast bordering the country to prevent ring-leaders of the UIC from fleeing the country.

The Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), which seized the capital, Mogadishu in June 2006 and most of the Southern and central parts of the country helped to establish relative stability in their spheres of control. But at the same time began fostering it’s dream of transforming Somalia into an Islamic state, implementing what was generally qualified by he western media to be a fundamental stream of Islam.

Furthermore, the group is accused by the Americans of having close links with the Al Qaeda terrorist network. Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, one of the group’s spiritual leader is on the US list of most wanted terrorists. The US thus perceived the group’s defeat as a golden opportunity to get hold of their most wanted.

The group was also widely accused of orchestrating the Sept. 18 suicide car bomb on the interim president, Abdullahi Yusuf, who made a narrow escape.

Interim government backs US strikes
  Although neither the Whitehorse nor the Pentagon has commented on the strikes, members of the transitional government have already made declarations justifying the attacks. President, Abdullahi Yusuf for instance said about the strikes that “America has a right to bombard terrorist suspects who attacked its embassies.”  Hussein Aideed, the deputy PM, corroborated Mr. Yusuf, and added that “The USA has our full support for the attacks.”
With the USA joining the crises, maybe the time is now ripe for guerilla warfare, as there is much anti-American sentiment in the predominantly Muslim country. Will Iraq be another Iraq? The most I can say for now is that it is not far from meeting the worst.

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