Posted by: sean | November 15, 2006

A Hezbollah-Somalia connection?

Reports of a UN report on arms embargo violations in Somalia say that Hezbollah has trained Somali militants and received Somali aid during the war this summer in the form of 720 Somali militants:

According to the Times, the report

states that in mid-July, Aden Hashi Farah, a leader of the Somali Islamist alliance, personally selected about 720 combat-hardened fighters to travel to Lebanon and fight alongside Hezbollah.

At least 100 Somalis had returned by early September — with five Hezbollah members — while others stayed on in Lebanon for advanced military training, the report says. It is not clear how many may have been killed, though the report says some were wounded and later treated after their return to Somalia.

The fighters were paid a minimum of $2,000 for their service, the report says, and as much as $30,000 was to be given to the families of those killed, with money donated by “a number of supporting countries.”

In addition to training some Somali militants, Hezbollah “arranged for additional support to be given” by Iran and Syria, including weapons, the report found. On July 27, 200 Somali fighters also traveled to Syria to be trained in guerrilla warfare, the report says.

It also indicates that Iran appears to have sought help in its quest for uranium in Dusa Mareb, the hometown of Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys, the leader of the Islamist alliance in Somalia, which is known as the Council of Islamic Courts.

“At the time of the writing of this report, there were two Iranians in Dusa Mareb engaged on matters linked to the exploration of uranium in exchange for arms” for the Council of Islamic Courts, says the report, which is dated Oct. 16.

It’s hard to know what to make of this report, especially since I haven’t been able to find an actual copy of it yet. It seems strange that there would be such a Sunni/Shia cooperation in Somalia and that the report writers would have access to such sensitive information from Iran and Hezbollah.

While it’s common knowledge that Eritrea and Ethiopia have been backing the Islamic courts and government, respectively, in Somalia, I was unaware that Yemen, Uganda, Egypt, Syria, Iran, Djibouti, Libya and Hezbollah are allegedly involved. Hopefully more information will be available soon.

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