From Catholic Information Service for Africa via AllAfrica, Jan. 5:
A message purportedly from the deputy leader of the al-Qaeda terrorist network has appeared on the internet, urging the Union of Islamic Courts fighters in Somalia to launch suicide attacks against Ethiopian troops.
The message comes as Western and African diplomats met in Kenya on Friday to discuss sending regional peacekeepers and more aid to Somalia.
According to a report by the Al Jazeera news network, the audiotape posted on a website is said to contain the voice of Ayman al-Zawahri.
It says: “As happened in Iraq and Afghanistan, when the world’s strongest power was defeated by the campaigns of the mujahidin troops going to heaven, so its slaves shall be defeated on the Muslim lands of Somalia.
“You must ambush, mine, raid and [carry out] martyrdom campaigns so that you can wipe them out,” he said.
Ethiopian forces helped Somalia’s under-powered forces loyal to the interim government to rout the courts in a two-week war.
The tape was posted on a website used by armed Islamist groups. Its authenticity could not be verified, but it is believed that the voice was that of al-Zawahri.
The Union of Islamic Courts, which took control of the capital in June and much of the south of the country, abandoned Mogadishu last week in the face of advancing Ethiopian and government forces.
The International Contact Group on Somalia, which includes the US and European nations, held closed-door talks in Nairobi with Abdullahi Yusuf, president of Somalia, whose government has called for immediate military help.
The US and Ethiopia have portrayed the Islamic courts as linked to, and even run by, al-Qaeda, putting Somalia firmly on the map of the US-led “war on terror”.
Kenya has already closed its border with Somalia saying it wants to stop fighters slipping across the frontier. The UN says thousands of refugees, also near the border, have been prevented from getting into Kenya to avoid the fighting.