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News, documents and analysis on violent extremism

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Al Qaeda Militants Reported In Somalia

CNN is reporting that at least three al Qaeda militants are holed up with the Islamic Courts in Somalia. All three are wanted in connection with the 1998 East African embassy bombings. Egyptian-American sleeper agent Ali Mohamed, a key planner of that attack, was reportedly involved in training Somali militants during the early 1990s, although the extent of his involvement is somewhat disputed among the sundry sources.

More importantly, al Qaeda's Somalia initiative was led by an operative named Saif al Adl, who became so enamored of his Somalian trainees that he adoped the nom de guerre "Omar al-Sumali" (Omar the Somalian). INTELWIRE has posted seven pages of al-Adl's reports on his early contacts with Somalian tribesmen, which appear consistent with the notion that some of the current Islamic Courts faction were initially trained and possibly recruited by al Qaeda in the early 1990s.

Saif al-Adl is one of the most senior members of al Qaeda's pre-9/11 leadership still at large and apparently unharried. A longtime Egyptian Islamic Jihad member, Al-Adl appears in one of the 9/11 training tapes released by al Qaeda in September and is likely implicated in that attack.

Where is he now? Some reports suggest Iran, where he may be under house arrest. It seems to me that, given recent developments in Somalia, if al-Adl was free to travel, he would be heading to the region where he can be most effective for the cause, and where he may still have a network of supporters. In other words, don't be surprised if he turns up in Somalia. One of many reasons why what's happening in that country deserves more attention than it has so far received in the U.S. media.


Views expressed on INTELWIRE are those of the author alone.



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INTELWIRE is a web site edited by J.M. Berger. a researcher, analyst and consultant covering extremism, with a special focus on extremist activities in the U.S. and extremist use of social media. He is a non-resident fellow with the Brookings Institution, Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, and author of the critically acclaimed Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, the only definitive history of the U.S. jihadist movement, and co-author of ISIS: The State of Terror with Jessica Stern.


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