Saturday, September 24, 2005
Somali 'al-Qaeda leader' arrested
The authorities in Somaliland say they have arrested four militants, including an internationally known al-Qaeda member.
Interior Minister Ishmael Aden said the men were all Somalis from Mogadishu.
The arrests follow an overnight raid on a house in the capital, Hargeisa. Three policemen were injured in a shootout.
Since the attacks on the United States on 11 September 2001, Western countries have seen Somalia as a possible safe haven for Islamic militants. Mr Aden said the arrested men were planning attacks to disrupt elections scheduled for 29 September. He said the police seized a large cache of weapons and communications equipment following an overnight shoot-out.
The interior minister did not give the names of those arrested but said one man had been trained in Afghanistan and was "on the list of internationally wanted terrorists".
The Somaliland authorities accuse terror cells based in Mogadishu of carrying out four killings of expatriates in the territory in 2003 and 2004.
In July, the International Crisis Group think-tank said an al-Qaeda cell had been set up in Somalia, which has had no effective government since warlords overthrew the government of Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.
"The threat of jihadi terrorism in and from Somalia is real," the ICG said.
It is believed that those behind the al-Qaeda-linked attacks in Kenya in 1998 and 2002 got logistical support - and maybe more - from Somalia.
Somaliland declared independence from the rest of Somalia in 1991, but its independence is not internationally recognised.