Wanted Al Qaeda man flew in Kenyan plane..

Halkaan ka akhri

Kenya has been sucked into the Somali conflict after a key radical on the US terror watch-list used a Nairobi-based airline to fly to Mogadishu from Eritrea. The Somali government has written a protest note to Nairobi after Sheikh Dahir Aweys flew on a plane owned by Capital Airlines, which is based at Wilson Airport.

Sheikh Aweys and six other Somali nationals took the flight on April 22, 2009, and now the government in Mogadishu is accusing Kenya of aiding one of the men on the US list of wanted terrorists, who is also accused of links to Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network.

About to crumble

The Somali government is about to crumble as forces from Sheikh Aweys’ Hizb-al-Islam together with fighters from the Al-Shabaab movement threaten to take over the capital, Mogadishu. “It is true that the said Kenyan aircraft flew Sheikh Aweys into Mogadishu and the Somali government has written to Kenya through the Foreign Affairs ministry to complain about it,” a source privy to the letter but who sought anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter said.

The United Nations has placed Sheikh Aweys on a list of people “belonging to or associated with” al Qaeda while Washington has ruled out contact with Sheikh Aweys, who denies links to al Qaeda. Fighters from Hizb-al-Islam and Al-Shabaab are reported to be within 50 kilometres of the Somali capital.

Sheikh Aweys has in the past called for the unification of all Somali-inhabited lands, including Kenya’s North Eastern Province, into a Greater Somalia. In the 1990s, Sheikh Aweys headed al-Itihaad al-Islamiya, an Islamist group that was responsible for terrorist attacks on hotels and markets in Addis Ababa and was originally funded by bin Laden and was linked to the 1998 United States embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

On November 7, 2001, Sheikh Aweys was named a “supporter of terrorism” and is also on the terrorist list of the United States. The fall of the Transitional Government in Mogadishu would see the return of an extremist Islamist administration in Somalia led by figures accused of being close to global terrorist networks.

Sheikh Aweys was the leader of the Islamic Courts Union that ruled Somalia briefly in 2006 and 2007 before it was dislodged by Ethiopian forces supporting the Transitional government. The Ethiopian forces withdrew after the arrival of a token African Union force in Mogadishu, but since then renewed fighting that threatens to topple the government of President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed has sent jitters in the region.

Kenya and Ethiopia are particularly concerned by the deteriorating situation and the rebound of radical Islamist forces.

According to documents seen by the Nation, the flight from Eritrea to Mogadishu cost Sheikh Aweys and his compatriots $25,000 (Sh1.9 million) and was paid for by a firm known as Farah Transport.

The names of the pilots in charge of the flight are given in the manifest as Mr S. Khan and R. Parmar. The other passengers on the flight are named as Osman A. Hassan, Aden W. Diriye, Ali O. Mohamed, Kheyre A. Ali, Mohamed S. Ali and Idris J. Abdi.

When the Nation called Capital Airlines offices at Wilson airport, a woman who identified herself only as Jackie declined to comment and instead referred us to the operations manager. The manager said he was not aware of the Asmara-Mogadishu flight.

“I am not aware of such a flight but we will call you back in 10 minutes. Our MD is not in at the moment,” the manager said. They did not, however, call back. Captain Khan and flight officer Parmar were said to have been out of the office.

The flight was allegedly booked in Nairobi by an unidentified man who claimed to work for Farah Transport. On Wednesday, a Kenya Ministry of Foreign Affairs official in the Horn of Africa Division, who could not be quoted because he is not authorised to talk to journalists, confirmed the receipt of the complaint letter from the UN backed Somalia government and said appropriate action would be taken. He could, however, not say what the action might be.

Ethiopia was on Wednesday hosting an Igad meeting that was also attended by Kenya’s Foreign minister Moses Wetang’ula. Should Al-Shabaab and Hizb-al-Islam take the Somali capital, African Union’s peace-keeping operation, Amisom, would have to evacuate its 4,300 soldiers. The token force of mostly Uganda soldiers has been frequently targeted by radical fighters.

The force is commanded by Ugandan Major-General Francis Okello who has finalised evacuation plans, but the AU’s special representative for Somalia Nicholas Bwakira says the troops will remain in Mogadishu as long as they have the backing of the Transitional government. He said at a press conference:

“Our mandate is given by the international community. We are in Somalia at the invitation of the government. We intend to continue our work despite the position of Al-Shabaab.” Already, reports from Mogadishu say that there are 250 foreign fighters who are leading the attack on the capital. The fighters are from Pakistan, Afghanistan and other Arab countries.

Meanwhile, security sources in Nairobi suspect that there is stepped up fund-raising by Somali radical groups in Nairobi believed to operate from a hotel in Eastleigh. One top fundraiser is known as Sheikh Umal. The operation in Eastleigh is part of a network that extends to Europe and provides ready cash for radical fighters in Mogadishu.

 Sourse Daily Nation


It’s true that the said Kenyan aircraft flew Sheikh Aweys into Mogadishu and the Somali government has written to Kenya through the Foreign Affairs ministry to complain about it. – SomaliSwiss

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