Bin Laden calls for overthrow of Somalia’s new president —despite sharia rule

In a new audio statement posted on the Internet, Osama bin Laden called on Somali militants to overthrow the country’s new President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed—himself a former leader of the Islamic Courts Union. In the 12-minute tape, which could not be immediately verified, bin Laden said: “This Sheik Sharif…must be fought and toppled… He is like the [Arab] presidents who are in the pay of our enemies.” (News Hour, March 19)

Ironically, bin Laden’s statement comes just as Sheikh Ahmed’s cabinet has approved the president’s proposal to implement sharia law in the country as a measure to appease the insurgents. Despite this move, the the UN Security Council agreed to recognize Ahmed’s government. Ahmed’s foreign minister Mohamed Abdullahi Omaar urged the Security Council to lift its 17-year arms embargo on Somalia. (AFP, March 20; BBC News, March 10)

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