In 2007 and 2008, al-Shabab, a militant group with ties to al-Qaida, rallied Somalis with calls for nationalism and consolidated vast amount of territory in southern and central Somalia and large areas of Mogadishu. In recent months, al-Qaida-trained foreign militants have reportedly taken over much of the training and operations of the organization. A vicious suicide bombing in Mogadishu earlier this month that killed and wounded 60 people increased fears in Somalia and in the West that the country is on the verge of becoming a significant base for al-Qaida.
On Monday, the information official for al-Shabab in the Juba region, Hassan Yacqub Ali, declared it would be impossible for anyone to challenge al-Shabab's power in southern Somalia. He dismissed the conference in Dolow town as a publicity stunt designed to attract money from the West.http://www1.voanews.com/english/news/africa/Somalis-Regional-Government-South-29DEC09--80274442.html