BRIEFS

Publication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 7 Issue: 38

TALIBAN PREDICT PRESIDENT OBAMA’S “COLONIAL STRATEGY” WILL LEAD TO AMERICAN COLLAPSE

In the midst of extensive coverage of President Obama’s decision to send another 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan, the Taliban’s response was little noticed. A formal statement from the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan was carried by the Afghan Islamic Press on December 2.

The statement describes the President’s decision to pursue a “colonial strategy” as one taken under pressure from “Pentagon generals, U.S. neo-conservatives and U.S. major investors.” While protecting the “colonial interest of American investors,” it ignores the economic and financial crisis facing the American people.  
The statement suggests that the increase in troops will only result in an increase in casualties as the Muslim people of Afghanistan consider the Karzai regime to be “depraved puppets of the invaders.”

The Taliban leadership employs the statement as part of a continuous effort to distance themselves from the global jihad of al-Qaeda. “We do not have any bases in Pakistan and do not need to have any bases outside Afghanistan… The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has repeatedly clarified to the international community that we do not intend harming anyone in the world. Therefore, the presence of the aggressive foreign forces in Afghanistan has nothing to do with world security.”

The Taliban response ends by reminding American officials that a continuation of their strategy will result in the sure collapse of America, as happened “to other boastful invaders in the past.”

In a further statement carried on the Taliban’s Pashto-language Shamat website, the Taliban state their belief that America’s allies have told President Obama “frankly and firmly” that they are no longer interested in pursuing the war in Afghanistan and are not prepared to send new troops.

The statement goes on to mock the President’s announcement that he would send 30,000 new American troops to Afghanistan:

"Obama and the American people should know that the former Soviet Union sent many more troops to Afghanistan and that their puppets were much more powerful and warmongering then the current puppets. However, since Afghanistan is the graveyard of the invaders and colonialists and this nation has the historic honor of bringing down invaders and those who claim to be pharaohs [i.e. tyrants], therefore the Americans should also start the countdown for facing the same fate."

Noticeably absent from the Taliban statements was the racial invective found in earlier Taliban references to President Obama. This may be part of Mullah Omar’s more conciliatory approach and the movement’s new effort to position itself as a legitimate and responsible alternative to the corrupt Karzai government.

The Kabul government took a more optimistic approach to the President’s commitment of more troops. Afghan Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta said the additional deployment was exactly what the government was looking for, “so that we ourselves should eventually take the responsibility and our guests can return to their homes safe and sound as soon as possible” (Tolo TV [Kabul], December 2).

AFRICAN UNION PEACEKEEPERS WARN OF AL-QAEDA PRESENCE IN SOMALIA

The hard-pressed Ugandan and Burundian troops of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) are the last line of defense for Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG), which now controls only a few neighborhoods of Mogadishu. With the recent defeat of rival Islamist militia Hizb al-Islam, the radical al-Shabaab movement has emerged as the main challenger to the TFG.

The African Union’s special representative for Somalia, former Kenyan MP Wafula Athanas Wamunyinyi, has issued dire warnings of an al-Qaeda takeover of Somalia, “considering the grip they have on the country” (New Vision [Kampala], December 3). Wamunyinyi says al-Shabaab has recruited 1,200 fighters in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Tanzania, Kenya, Sudan, Uganda and the United States. "With the involvement of foreign fighters, we need to adopt a new approach towards the conflict in Somalia, away from the perception that these are clans fighting." Kenyans are reported to represent half this force, being recruited from the same ethnic-Somali community in northeast Kenya that the TFG is also drawing on for recruits (New Vision, December 4).

Wamunyinyi claims that al-Qaeda is operating training camps in Somalia, and named several foreigners who now hold leading positions in al-Shabaab:

• Saudi Arabian Shaykh Muhammad Abu Fa’id is the group’s financier and “manager.”

• Abu Musa Mombasa is a Pakistani who has replaced the late Saleh Ali Nahbhan as the head of security and training operations for al-Shabaab.

• The American Abu Mansur al-Amriki heads the finance and payroll department of the foreign mujahideen.

• Sudanese national Mohamoud Mujajir is in charge of suicide bombing operations (New Vision, December 3).

A Ugandan AMISOM officer, Major Bahoku Barigye, reported that he had personally spoken to three al-Shabaab members from Uganda, who said they knew where he lived in Kampala and threatened his family. One of the militants told Major Barigye he was a member of the Alliance of Democratic Forces, an Islamist militant group that has operated along the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) since 1996 (see Terrorism Monitor, December 5, 2007).

AMISOM commander, Major General Nathan Mugisha (Uganda), is less emphatic regarding al-Qaeda’s physical presence in Somalia. “I think there’s a relationship between activities here and al-Qaeda… There’s mutual support and I think the way they behave is similar” (AFP, November 28).

The question is whether reports of a substantial al-Qaeda presence are intelligence-driven or politically inspired as a means of obtaining greater military and financial support for a mission that is badly undermanned and underfunded. Still 3,000 troops short of its mandated force of 8,000, AMISOM will soon receive reinforcements from Djibouti; but Ghana, Nigeria, Malawi and Sierra Leone have yet to send the units they promised.

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