U.S. Believes al-Qaeda Fighters are Escaping to Somalia
The United States is deeply suspicious that al-Qaeda forces are successfully slipping out of Afghanistan and arriving in Somalia. American officials told the New York Times on Saturday that the slow pace of the negotiated surrender of Taliban soldiers hiding in the mountains of southern Afghanistan has raised concerns that senior Taliban leaders might slip away or bribe their way to freedom.
A report from Somalia indicates U.S. suspicions may be well founded. Janes reports that the word in Mogadishu is that some of Al-Qaeda’s Somali fighters involved in the war in Afghanistan have already returned home. A source in Nairobi told JIAA that most of these al-Qaeda fighters had escaped through Pakistan, and were then routed back to Africa on flights out of the Gulf states. The source also said a group of over a dozen Somalis shipped out of Mombasa for Mogadishu in an Omani-owned dhow.
American Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said at a Pentagon news conference on Thursday that the Al-Qaida network maintains a stong presence in Somalia. `”They go in and out”' he said, “We know there have been training camps there and that they have been active over the years and that they . . . go inactive when people get attentive to them”, the Washington Post quoted. State Department official Richard Boucher was also quoted as saying “We are working to ensure that Somalia doesn't become a haven for terrorists”. (www.albawaba.com)
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