News Release

Somalia Strike

The British Guardian is reporting: “The United States has launched air strikes against Islamists in southern Somalia, confirming the country’s status as a new frontline in Washington’s war on terror.

“An AC130 warplane strafed the village of Hayo near the Kenyan border late yesterday afternoon leaving ‘many dead,’ according to the Somali government. Ras Kamboni, on the country’s southernmost tip, was also said to have been hit. …

“There were also reports today of two further strikes by helicopter gunships, but it was unclear whether these were US or Ethiopian operations.

“According to Pentagon officials, the U.S. targets included several alleged al-Qaida members suspected of organizing the attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. …

“The Islamists of the Somali Council of Islamic Courts (SCIC), who had taken control of most of south and central Somalia during the latter half of 2006, bringing in law and order for the first time in 15 years, were routed from their urban strongholds, including Mogadishu, by Ethiopian troops at the end of December. Many fighters fled into the bush in the far south of the country.The U.S. tracked the Islamists’ retreat from its Combined Task Force headquarters in Djibouti, which was established as a counter-terrorism base after the September 11, 2001 attacks.”

The following analysts are available for interviews:

SALIM LONE
Available for phone interviews, Lone is a former spokesperson for the UN mission in Iraq and a columnist for the Daily Nation in Kenya, which neighbors Somalia. Lone’s recent articles include “In Somalia, a Reckless U.S. Proxy War” in the International Herald Tribune and “Destabilizing the Horn” in The Nation.

He said today: “Somalia is crucial strategically with all the oil tankers and war ships going through the Red Sea to the Mideast. … Ethiopia is itself a dictatorship and is close to the U.S. government. The U.S. has a huge military base in neighboring Djibouti. The U.S. is now going to have a new army command, like Centcom for Africa — based in the horn of Africa.”
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KHALID MUSTAFA MEDANI
Assistant professor of political science and Islamic studies at McGill University, Medani wrote a piece titled “Financing Terrorism or Survival? Informal Finance, State Collapse in Somalia and the U.S. War on Terrorism.”
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SAID SHEIKH SAMATAR
Professor of African history at Rutgers University, Samatar is executive director of the independent journal Horn of Africa and author the book Somalia: a Nation in Turmoil.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167