Photo/FILE Newly-trained al-Shabaab militias at Maslah camp in North Mogadishu on September 5, 2010. Al Shabaab has in the past warned Kenya, Uganda and Burundi of violent attacks over their continued support of the Transitional Federal Government in Mogadishu.
Kenya and its neighbours now want a No Fly Zone imposed on a part of Somalia to cut off arms supplies to the al Shabaab terrorist group. The calls came as security agencies were placed on high alert following reports that a top commander with the Somali-based terror group might have sneaked into Kenya for treatment after being wounded in a US attack.Bilal El Berjawi, a close aide of slain al Shabbab commander Fazul Abdullah, suffered head injuries in an American air bombardment on Sunday. (READ: US takes drone war into Somalia)
The British national of Lebanese ancestry is suspected to have been sneaked into Kenya for treatment after the attack that killed the mastermind of last year’s terrorist bombings in Uganda, known by his pseudonym, Badrudin.He was listed as the head of al-Qaeda Intelligence in Nairobi before fleeing to Somalia. Also believed to have survived the Sunday attack with injuries is another al-Qaeda commander only identified as Ikrima.
Nine top al-Shabaab operatives were believed to have been injured or killed during the attack on Sunday, as Kenyan security went into high alert at the border following intelligence reports that the wounded terrorists could have sneaked into the country for treatment.Kenyan police rank 27-year old Berjawi as a high profile terrorist only second to the late Fazul.Before travelling to Somalia through Kenya, Berjawi was a technician at an air conditioning and refrigeration installation company in London.In Addis Ababa, President Kibaki broke with the usual low-key diplomacy to lead regional leaders in asking UN to enforce No fly zones on key towns in Somalia controlled by the al Shabaab. (READ: Kibaki backs action on Eritrea terror link)The proposal was made during the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development Assembly (Igad) held on Monday.The regional bloc that usually refrains from direct criticism of member-states came out with a hard-hitting resolution calling on the United Nations to support the African Union forces in Somalia and enforce “a blockade of Kismayu, Barava, Merka and Elmaan and impose an air exclusion zone such as on Balidogle, N.50 and Cisaley to cut the supply lines to the extremist groups”.The meeting chaired by Ethiopian Premier Meles Zenawi accused Eritrea of supplying arms to the al Shabaab through Kismayu. The leaders also warned of possible terrorist attacks on South Sudan before or after its independence day celebrations set for Saturday by extremist groups allied to Eritrea.“The Presidents were really concerned about the role Eritrea continues to play in aiding these violent groups. “They were told that the Kampala bombers were trained in Eritrea, which also tried to use the OLF (Oromo Liberation Front) to bomb an AU meeting in Addis Ababa in January,” said a member of the Kenyan delegation which accompanied President Kibaki to Addis Ababa.Eritrean ambassador to Kenya Beyene Russom denied that his country was funding insurgent groups in the region.“Eritrea does not have the capacity and the will. It is not our agenda to see Somalia disintegrate. These are lies put across by Ethiopia,” said Mr Russom on a visit to the Daily Nation newsroom on Tuesday.“We have never brought a singe al Shabaab soldier to be trained in Eritrea,” he added. Mr Russom also denied that militant groups with links to Eritrea planned to attack South Sudan, describing the new state as a “long time friend.” “We supported SPLA from the very beginning. [President] Salva Kiir and the late [SPLA leader John] Garang are good friends of President Isaias Afeworki. We do not want to see problems in South Sudan,” he said. In Addis Ababa, the leaders signed a communiqué that “strongly condemns the activities of the State of Eritrea that has taken an active part in destabilising the region by supporting extremist and other subversive elements.” Al Shabaab has in the past warned Kenya, Uganda and Burundi of violent attacks over their continued support of the Transitional Federal Government in Mogadishu. Kenya has actively supported the war against terror while Uganda and Burundi are the main contributors to the African Union troops in Somalia (AMISOM) supporting the transitional government.
Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the multiple blasts which killed 74 people watching the 2010 World Cup final at an entertainment joint in Kampala.The Igad assembly was attended by Presidents Yoweri Museveni (Uganda), Omar El Bashir (Sudan), Salva Kiir (South Sudan) and Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed (Somalia). Also present were former presidents Thabo Mbeki (South Africa), Abubakar Abusalam (Nigeria) and Pierre Buyoya (Burundi) who sit on the African Union High Level Implementation Panel.The assembly was also addressed by former Agriculture minister Kipruto Kirwa who is the Igad facilitator for Somalia Peace and National Reconciliation. President Kibaki who chairs the Igad sub committee on Sudan drew the Assembly’s attention to the growing destabilisation activities in the region believed to be supported by the Asmara regime.