SECURITY | Somali leader slams Al-Shabaab, piracy

Originally published in, 2010/09/25

The leader of Somalia’s transitional government says his war-torn nation is suffering from the “twin danger of terrorism and piracy.”

President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed described the brutality of the Al-Shabaab militant group and other insurgents during the annual U.N. General Assembly debate.

He also discussed what he said was the scourge of maritime terror on the same day a Panamanian flagged ship sailing off the Somali coast was pirated early Saturday,

“Al-Shabaab terrorists are not for the establishment of a national government in Somalia, rather they seek to establish in the Horn of Africa a terrorist hub which is managed by their al-Qaeda handlers with the intention to wreak havoc in the region and beyond.”

He cited several attacks attacks by Al-Shabaab, including strikes against hotels, a suicide bombing at a university, and in Uganda, a country that provided troops to the African Union to help the government.

Ahmed urged nations to continue to assist Somalia in training its forces and supporting the AU contingent.

“I call upon the U.N. Security Council to pass a strong resolution with the view to deterring the spread of Al Qaeda terrorists and their home-grown affiliates such as Al-Shabaab.”

The waters around the Horn of Africa, especially off the coast of lawless Somalia, have become a hub for piracy, making the busy shipping routes among the most dangerous in the world.

Ahmed denounced the pirates who hijack freighters in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden.

“The terrorists and pirates are now closely collaborating to wreak havoc; to instill fear, and to promote destabilization and lawlessness on land and in the high seas,” he said.

Most recently, a Panamanian flagged ship sailing off the Somali coast was pirated early Saturday, the European Union’s anti-piracy task force said.

The MV Lugela was carrying steel bars and wires and had sailed through the Gulf of Aden heading to Mauritius.

It was about 900 miles east of Eyl, Somalia when it sent out a distress alert to its Greek operator Saturday, said the European Union Naval Force Somalia.

A short while later, the ship altered its course and was sailing towards the Somali coast. There has been no contact with the ship.

Ahmed cited other threats to Somalis, such as illegal fishing and the dumping of toxic waste in Somali waters.

“These illegal activities have provoked the wrath of the Somali people and subsequently led to piracy and other illicit criminal acts,” he said.


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