Somali Islamists produce martyr video – By Khaled Kazziha
NAIROBI, Kenya: Islamic insurgents in Somalia have created a video showing a man reciting prayers from the Quran before apparently blowing himself up in a suicide blast, (more…)
NAIROBI, Kenya: Islamic insurgents in Somalia have created a video showing a man reciting prayers from the Quran before apparently blowing himself up in a suicide blast, the latest sign that extremists are adopting tactics used by radical groups in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East as they carry out their guerrilla war.
The Associated Press obtained the video Thursday from a person associated with the Shabab, the militant wing of an Islamic group that ruled much of southern Somalia for six months last year. The Council of Islamic Courts was driven from power in December but has vowed to launch an Iraq-style insurgency until Somalia is ruled by the Quran.
Martyr videos are a common propaganda tactic used by al-Qaida in Iraq and Afghanistan and by groups in the Middle East, but are not known to have been used before in Somalia. In recent months, the insurgents also have started using suicide bombs and posting battle reports on the Internet, both al-Qaida tactics not previously seen in Somalia.
“We know the enemy of Islam, the unbelievers have supporters everywhere and their aim is to prevent us from praying to the holy Quran,” said the man in the video, identified as “Martyr, Adam Salad Adam.” He appeared to be in his 20s.
“But we have the support of God and they will lose in the end,” he said.
Adam urged Somalis to defend their country against “invaders,” and said “I will be the first to devote my life … I expect God to forgive my sins.”
Adam is also seen praying and driving a sport utility vehicle along the main road in the northern part of Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, an area seen as a stronghold for the Islamists. Arabic music extolling holy war also plays on the video, urging Muslims to “blow it up, don’t waste a day” and “move forward to paradise, ignite a revolution.”
The explosion is seen from a distance, sending a column of white smoke into the sky. Adam said he was targeting a base manned by Ethiopian troops, who provided vital military assistance to the Somalis in ousting the Islamic courts. It was not clear when the tape was produced, but a suicide bomb struck an Ethiopian base earlier this year.
The first suicide attack reported in Somalia happened in September, targeting Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf in the southern town of Baidoa. The blast and a subsequent gunbattle killed Yusuf’s brother and 10 others.
Mohamud Gulane, one of Somalia’s respected elders, said suicide attacks were unheard of in Somalia until then.
“Committing suicide to kill others is a phenomenon that was imported from outside,” the 88-year-old elder said.
Islamic courts leaders deny any connection with al-Qaida, but the two groups appear intertwined.
Aden Hashi Ayro, a Somali trained in al-Qaida’s Afghanistan camps prior to 2001, is on the State Department’s list of suspected terrorists and remains the overall leader of the Shabab.
Another Shabab commander, Issa Osman Issa, is a Kenyan wanted by the FBI for a 2002 terror attack near the Kenyan city of Mombasa, the State Department says on its Web site.
Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, who is from Comoros and widely believed to be the al-Qaida leader for East Africa, runs the Shabab’s intelligence section, Somali intelligence officers have told the AP. FBI and Kenyan police reports and U.S. court documents link him to 2002 attacks in Kenya and the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.
Somalia has been mired in chaos since 1991, when warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre and then turned against each other. The current administration, called the Transitional Federal Government, was established in 2004 with backing from the United Nations, but has struggled to assert control.
Just weeks ago, the government declared victory over Islamic insurgents after some of the worst fighting in Somalia in more than 15 years. Battles killed at least 1,670 people between March 12 and April 26 and drove about a fifth of Mogadishu’s 2 million residents to flee for safety.
But sporadic violence has still been breaking out in the capital.
This week, Somali police shot and killed two civilians after attackers hurled a hand grenade at a police station in northern Mogadishu, witnesses said. No officers were hurt.
Police opened fire with assault rifles and “two civilians who were sitting in front of my pharmacy were killed, one was hit in the chest and the other in the head,” said Aydurus Ali Mohamed. “They both died instantly.”
Aden Mohamed, an officer at the station, said the grenade landed just inside the station’s gate. He said no officers were hurt, and did not comment on the civilian deaths.