US Collecting Info on ‘Terrorist Networks’ in Somalia
A senior US official said on Wednesday the United States was working with Kenya and Ethiopia to identify potential “terrorist" networks in Somalia, reported Reuters.
“Somalia is possibly an environment that could be hospitable to terrorists. Our first effort is to make it inhospitable for the terrorist networks,'' US assistant secretary of state for African affairs Walter Kansteiner was quoted as telling reporters in Pretoria.
“We have been talking to Somalia's neighbors to ensure it doesn't become a haven for terrorists,'' he added.
The United States placed the Somali group al-Itihaad al-Islamiya on a list of “terrorist'' organizations after the September 11 attacks, due to its alleged links to the al Qaeda network of Osama bin Laden, its top suspect in the attacks, said the agency.
US military officers visited Somalia on Sunday for talks with opposition warlords to identify potential “terrorist'' targets.
In response, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said in Stockholm Wednesday
that the use of offensive military force in the US-led war on terrorism should be confined to Afghanistan and not extended to Somalia or anywhere else, said AFP.
Asked at a news conference about the recent presence of US officers in Somalia and speculation that Washington was preparing for future military action there, Annan said that a UN resolution implied geographical limits on how far the US-led war on terrorism should go.
"The only statement it made was that the perpetrators of the 11 September attacks should be brought to justice," he said, referring to the resolution. "So far, all the indications and evidence we have is that they are in Afghanistan.
"That's where this military effort has concentrated and at this stage I have no evidence or any reason to support the position that the war should be carried on to other areas," he added.
Annan also reiterated an assertion made in Oslo on Sunday that it would not be wise for the United States to take its war on terrorism to Iraq and added: "I don't advise it."
The Daily Telegraph newspaper of Britain reported Tuesday that US army officers had secretly entered Somalia and met with a rebel movement in the heart of the country on a mission to acquire information about suspected terrorist camps there.
Humanitarian and militia sources in the region confirmed that several US officials visited the Somali town of Baidoa during the weekend and met local authorities.
US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other US officials have however declined to confirm or deny the reports – Albawaba.com
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