Cairo, Mogadishu, Asharq Al-Awsat- A security official in the Transitional Government of Somalia has reported that prominent Al-Qaeda organization leaders are indirect contact with the hard-line Mujahidin Youth movement which is opposed to President Sheikh Sharif and the presence of foreign forces in the country.
The official, who asked to remain unidentified and occupies an important position in Somalia’s intelligence service, said when Asharq Al-Awsat telephoned him: “We have information obtained from several sources confirming that the relationship between Al-Qaeda and the Youth movement is not just one of ideological cooperation. Al-Qaeda is involved in the military operations taking place against the government forces and the African Union’s peacekeeping forces (AMISOM).” He added from the Somali capital Mogadishu that Al-Qaeda organization sent some of its prominent leaders into Somalia to coordinate the military action by the Youth movement’s militias and pointed out that Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmad recently informed Ugandan correspondents who visited him at his presidential quarters, known as “Somalia’s Villa” in Mogadishu, that a Pakistani general was practically commanding the Youth movement’s military wing on the instructions of Al-Qaeda.
The source went on to say “fundamentalist leader Abu-Yahya al-Libi is also in almost daily contact with Ahmad Jabudun, alias Sheikh Abdul-Rahman (Abu-al-Zubayr)” and pointed out that no less than 2,000 fighters from Al-Qaeda, the majority of them came from outside Somalia, were taking part in the movement’s battle to topple Sheikh Sharif’s regime. After noting that the estimates provided by the United Nations or several Western intelligence services about the real number of foreign fighters in the Youth movement’s ranks lack accuracy, he said “they are saying they number between200 and 300 fighters only. The number is many times more than that in our estimate.”
On the other hand, Somali Foreign Minister Muhammad Omar Abdullah told Asharq Al-Awsat that Eritrea should be punished for what he called its constant and direct interference in the Somali crisis. He accused Asmara of involvement by backing the various extremist groups seeking to overthrow his government and pointed out that Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki announced his refusal to recognize the legitimacy of the transitional authority in Somalia in a clear challenge to the international community’s will. Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat from New York, he said he was expecting tough sanctions to be imposed on Eritrea whose endeavors he said were harming the efforts to achieve security and stability in Somalia.