Category Archive 'Somalia'

07 Jul 2011

Best Headline of the Week

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The Washington Times’ editorial titled: Obama plays hide the Somali, which argues that the Obama administration hid captured Somali Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame on a US warship for two months before presenting him for indictment in Federal Court in New York in an end run around a Congressional ban on the transfer of terrorist detainees to US soil.

23 Jan 2011

Letters of Marque

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Lynx, a 2001-built replica of a sharp-built Maryland schooner commissioned for service against Britain in the War of 1812

As the official American covert intelligence grows larger, more politicized and sclerotic, and increasingly circumscribed in its operations by congressional oversight and media hostility, there is increasing evidence the US government is covertly delegating some hazardous and controversial operations to private contractors, and that these private companies are becoming a modern intelligence equivalent of the naval privateers of yore, similarly supplying smaller, faster, and more manueverable vessels capable of meeting operational needs the official service finds it inconvenient to address.

In the Washington Post, Jeff Stein recently identified one of these.

Mullah Omar, the elusive, one-eyed leader of the Afghan Taliban, had a heart attack Jan. 7 and was treated for several days in a Karachi hospital with the help of Pakistan’s spy agency, according to a private intelligence network run by former CIA, State Department and military officers.

The intelligence network, operating under the auspices of a private company, “The Eclipse Group,” said its source was a physician in the Karachi hospital, which was not identified in the report, who said he saw Omar struggling to recover from an operation to put a stent in his heart. …

The Eclipse Group is run by Duane “Dewey” Clarridge, a former head of the CIA’s Latin American operations who was the first chief of the CIA’s counterterrorism center; Kim Stevens, a retired U.S. diplomat who served in Bolivia and Italy; and Brad A. Patty, a civilian advisor to the U.S. Army’s 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team in Iraq from 2007 to 2009.

The Eclipse Group’s reports are available “by invitation only” on its Web site, Stevens said.

By all appearances, the Eclipse network is the just the latest iteration of a shadowy, Pentagon-backed operation that began contracting with former CIA and military operatives to supply intelligence in Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2009. Amid adverse publicity last year, the Pentagon supposedly cut off its funding.

Stevens declined to discuss The Eclipse Group’s financing, except to say it has “no DoD clients.”

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US Intelligence adversary Mark Mazzetti, at the New York Times, is doing his best to expose and discredit Mr. Clarridge’s operation.

Over the past two years, he has fielded operatives in the mountains of Pakistan and the desert badlands of Afghanistan. Since the United States military cut off his funding in May, he has relied on like-minded private donors to pay his agents to continue gathering information about militant fighters, Taliban leaders and the secrets of Kabul’s ruling class. …

His dispatches — an amalgam of fact, rumor, analysis and uncorroborated reports — have been sent to military officials who, until last spring at least, found some credible enough to be used in planning strikes against militants in Afghanistan. They are also fed to conservative commentators, including Oliver L. North, a compatriot from the Iran-contra days and now a Fox News analyst, and Brad Thor, an author of military thrillers and a frequent guest of Glenn Beck. …

On May 15, according to a classified Pentagon report on the private spying operation, he sent an encrypted e-mail to military officers in Kabul announcing that his network was being shut down because the Pentagon had just terminated his contract. He wrote that he had to “prepare approximately 200 local personnel to cease work.”

In fact, he had no intention of shuttering his operation. The very next day, he set up a password-protected Web site, afpakfp.com {Does not seem to be accessible to outsiders –JDZ], that would allow officers to continue viewing his dispatches. …

It is difficult to assess the merits of Mr. Clarridge’s secret intelligence dispatches; a review of some of the documents by The Times shows that some appear to be based on rumors from talk at village bazaars or rehashes of press reports.

Others, though, contain specific details about militant plans to attack American troops, and about Taliban leadership meetings in Pakistan. Mr. Clarridge gave the military an in-depth report about a militant group, the Haqqani Network, in August 2009, a document that officials said helped the military track Haqqani fighters. According to the Pentagon report, Mr. Clarridge told Marine commanders in Afghanistan in June 2010 that his group produced 500 intelligence dispatches before its contract was terminated.

When the military would not listen to him, Mr. Clarridge found other ways to peddle his information.

For instance, his private spies in April and May were reporting that Mullah Muhammad Omar, the reclusive cleric who leads the Afghan Taliban, had been captured by Pakistani officials and placed under house arrest. Associates said Mr. Clarridge believed that Pakistan’s spy service was playing a game: keeping Mullah Omar confined but continuing to support the Afghan Taliban.

Both military and intelligence officials said the information could not be corroborated, but Mr. Clarridge used back channels to pass it on to senior Obama administration officials, including Dennis C. Blair, then the director of national intelligence.

And associates said that Mr. Clarridge, determined to make the information public, arranged for it to get to Mr. Thor, a square-jawed writer of thrillers, a blogger and a regular guest on Mr. Beck’s program on Fox News.

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Our friend Mark Mazzetti is also gravely concerned the Blackwater‘s founder, Eric Prince, now a resident of Abu Dhabi, may be involved with anti-piracy activities not specifically authorized by the residents of Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

Erik Prince, the founder of the international security giant Blackwater Worldwide, is backing an effort by a controversial South African mercenary firm to insert itself into Somalia’s bloody civil war by protecting government leaders, training Somali troops, and battling pirates and Islamic militants there, according to American and Western officials. …

With its barely functional government and a fierce hostility to foreign armies since the hasty American withdrawal from Mogadishu in the early 1990s, Somalia is a country where Western militaries have long feared to tread. The Somali government has been cornered in a small patch of Mogadishu by the Shabab, a Somali militant group with ties to Al Qaeda.

This, along with the growing menace of piracy off Somalia’s shores, has created an opportunity for private security companies like the South African firm Saracen International to fill the security vacuum created by years of civil war. It is another illustration of how private security firms are playing a bigger role in wars around the world, with some governments seeing them as a way to supplement overtaxed armies, while others complain that they are unaccountable.

Mr. Prince’s precise role remains unclear. Some Western officials said that it was possible Mr. Prince was using his international contacts to help broker a deal between Saracen executives and officials from the United Arab Emirates, which have been financing Saracen in Somalia because Emirates business operations have been threatened by Somali pirates. ..

Somali officials have said that Saracen’s operations — which would also include training an antipiracy army in the semiautonomous region of Puntland — are being financed by an anonymous Middle Eastern country.

Several people with knowledge of Saracen’s operations confirmed that that was the United Arab Emirates.

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The rest of us can only nod with approval, and raise a glass to Dewey Clarridge and the Eclipse Group, Eric Prince and Saracen, comment quietly, “Well done,” and drink to them.

15 Apr 2009

President Pantywaist and the Pirates

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The Left is chortling about what a big, bold he-man Obama is, not actually forbidding the US Navy’s use of armed force to rescue the hostage American ship’s captain.

Jules Crittenden appreciates the irony.

Lefty bloggers are crowing about how tough their guy is because some SEAL snipers whacked three pirates. The lefties seem to mainly be interested in this as an opportunity to snark on the right, claiming that pirate whackage or the lack thereof was set as some kind of definitive right-wing benchmark of Obama’s wieniness. That’s OK. This is their special moment. …

In fact, news reports indicate the dithering has already begun. Never mind that. I just want to say I’m thrilled about the handwringing, Kumbayah-singing, peacenik left’s new enthusiasm for swift, extra-judicial 7.62 justice by executive order, and the lack of calls for human rights investigations, prosecutions, etc.

Special Ops service veteran Jeff Emanuel is less impressed with the Obama administration’s performance.

Almost immediately following word of the rescue, the Obama administration and its supporters claimed victory against pirates in the Indian Ocean and declared that the dramatic end to the standoff put paid to questions of the inexperienced president’s toughness and decisiveness.

Despite the Obama administration’s (and its sycophants’) attempt to spin yesterday’s success as a result of bold, decisive leadership by the inexperienced president, the reality is nothing of the sort.

What should have been a standoff lasting only hours — as long as it took the USS Bainbridge and its team of NSWC operators to steam to the location — became an embarrassing four-day-and-counting standoff between a rag-tag handful of criminals with rifles and a U.S. Navy warship. …

[I]nstead of taking direct, decisive action against the rag-tag group of gunmen, the Obama administration dilly-dallied, dawdled, and eschewed any decisiveness whatsoever, even in the face of enemy fire, in hopes that the situation would somehow resolve itself without violence. Thus, the administration sent a clear message to all who would threaten U.S. interests abroad that the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has no idea how to respond to such situations — and no real willingness to use military force to resolve them.

Any who think they weren’t watching every minute of this are guilty — at best — of greatly underestimating our enemies. …

Like the crew of the Alabama, which took swift and decisive action to take back their own ship rather than wait for help from Washington that they knew could not be counted on, Captain Phillips took matters into his own hands for the second time in three days, leaping into the water to create a diversion and allowing the NSWC team to eliminate his captors. The result, of course, was the best that could possibly be expected: three pirates dead, the captain unharmed, and a fourth Somali man who had surrendered late Saturday night in custody.

One thing that will bear watching will be what the Obama DOJ attempts to do with the captive pirate. My money is on a life of welfare checks, a plot of land (in a red state, naturally), and voting rights in Chicago, New York, and Seattle.

13 Apr 2009

Seal Snipers Pot Pirates at 30 Yards

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Washington Post:

The operation to rescue Capt. Richard Phillips involved dozens of Navy SEALs, who parachuted from an aircraft into the scene near dark Saturday, landing in the ocean. The SEALs were part of a group of Special Operations forces involved in the effort, according to military officials. …

At one point Saturday, the pirates opened fire on one of the smaller U.S. Navy craft that approached.

As the seas grew rougher, the Bainbridge offered to tow the lifeboat to calmer waters, and the pirates agreed, linking up the lifeboat to the destroyer with a towing cable that left 75 to 80 feet between the two vessels. Phillips at the time was tied up in the lifeboat, having been bound — and occasionally beaten — by the pirates ever since he had attempted to escape by jumping into the water on Friday, the officials said.

Meanwhile, one of the pirates, estimated to be between 16 and 20 years old, asked to come aboard the Bainbridge to make a phone call. He had been stabbed in the hand during an altercation with the crew of the Maersk Alabama and needed medical care. “He effectively gave himself up,” a senior military official said. …

Meanwhile, one of the pirates, estimated to be between 16 and 20 years old, asked to come aboard the Bainbridge to make a phone call. He had been stabbed in the hand during an altercation with the crew of the Maersk Alabama and needed medical care. “He effectively gave himself up,” a senior military official said. The Navy then allowed that pirate to speak with the others in hopes that he could persuade them to give up.

The three other pirates, however, showed signs of growing irritation, as the Bainbridge, 18 miles from shore, towed the lifeboat further out to sea. …

“In the last discussion, they said, ‘If we don’t get what we want, we will kill the captain,’ ” the official said.

Soon afterward, two pirates moved to one of the hatches of the lifeboat and stuck their heads out. The third pirate advanced toward the captain and pointed his AK-47 straight at Phillips’s back, the rifle touching it or inches away, the official said.

U.S. military observers thought that Phillips was about to be shot. SEAL snipers, who were positioned on a deck at the stern of the Bainbridge, an area known as the fantail, had the three pirates in their sights. The on-scene commander gave the snipers authority to fire.

“As soon as the snipers had a clear shot at the guy who had the rifle, they shot him and the other two in the hatches,” the senior military official said.

CNN 2:14 video

Even from the fantail of a destroyer rising and falling with the waves, 75-80′ (22.9-24.4 m.) shot with telescopic sight-equipped sniper rifles chambered in 7.62mm or .300 Winchester Magnum would be virtually unmissable. Those Navy snipers were shooting fish in a barrel.

It just doesn’t work to wave guns around, threatening a hostage, while trained marksmen have drawn a bead on your cranium.

All this shows that the pirates were more than a little naive, having evidently bought into an international image of a United States paralysed by moral inhibitions that proved to be exaggerated. The Obama administration does deserve credit for refraining from finding some advanced European interpretation of International Law declaring pirates to be a specially protected category of persons.

1:21 Seal sniper video

11 Apr 2009

Barack Obama is Having a Jimmy Carter Moment

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The Somali pirates’ attempt to reinforce the lifeboat holding captive American merchant ship Captain Richard Phillips using the captured German Hansa Stavanger adding another 24 hostages to the pot was foiled by US warships who compelled the pirates to turn back.

CNN

The New York Times in customary fashion stroked its chin and concluded the whole thing simply demonstrated once again the ineffectiveness of US military power.

The Indian Ocean standoff between an $800 million United States Navy destroyer and four pirates bobbing in a lifeboat showed the limits of the world’s most powerful military as it faces a booming pirate economy in a treacherous patch of international waters.

The New York Post demanded that the Navy should immediately sink the pirates.

Meanwhile, over at Huffington Post, Johann Hari a sensitive British sodomite, thinks the pirates are perfectly justified.

James Lewis thinks this incident is a test, which Barack Obama is failing.

19 Nov 2008

Hot New Business Sector: Somali Piracy

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UK’s Daily Mash reports that, even in this lagging economy, investors are able to identify one hot new sector.

Venture capitalists in New York and London are pumping millions of dollars into Somalia’s booming pirate sector.

The sharp-eyed investors say Indian Ocean piracy has replaced Bangladeshi t-shirt factories as the developing world’s strongest source of high-growth revenue streams.

Julian Cook, head of strategy at Porter, Pinkney and Turner (PPT), said: “The margins are very impressive. These guys can board a Chinese freighter or Saudi oil tanker and turn it around in less than a week. Usually without killing anyone.

“The staff are well-trained and they operate a structured bonus system involving the daughters of nomadic tribal chiefs and as much hallucinogenic tree bark as they can eat.

“The tax position is also very favourable given that Somalia isn’t really what you would describe as a ‘country’ with ‘laws’ and a ‘government’.”

PPT has paid £25.7 million for a 32% stake in Captain Ahmed’s Crazee Bastards with the initial tranche used for capital purchases including new speed boats, 200 yards of very strong rope and a gun the size of a cow.

13 Jul 2008

Rep. Ed Markey: “Global Warming Brought ‘Black Hawk Down'”

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Representative Edward Markey (D- 7th district Massachusetts) deserves a special place on Warmlist for telling some high schools students that Global Warming was responsible for the shooting down of a US Black Hawk helicopter in Mogadishu, Somalia in 1993.

The incident led to a book by Mark Bowden titled Black Hawk Down, made into a 2001 film of the same title by director Ridley Scott.

On the Spot (CNSNews.com) – A top Democrat told high school students gathered at the U.S. Capitol Thursday that climate change caused Hurricane Katrina and the conflict in Darfur, which led to the “black hawk down” battle between U.S. troops and Somali rebels.

Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), chairman of the House (Select) Energy Independence and Global Warming Committee, also equated the drive for global warming legislation with the drive for women’s suffrage in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. …

“In Somalia back in 1993, climate change, according to 11 three- and four-star generals, resulted in a drought which led to famine,” said Markey.

“That famine translated to international aid we sent in to Somalia, which then led to the U.S. having to send in forces to separate all the groups that were fighting over the aid, which led to Black Hawk Down. There was this scene where we have all of our American troops under fire because they have been put into the middle of this terrible situation,” he added.

Markey was referring to the battle of Mogadishu in 1993, when 18 members of a U.S. military team were killed in a helicopter crash and a resulting firefight. The battle was made famous by a 2001 Academy Award-winning film, “Black Hawk Down.”

13 Jan 2007

A Miss and a Major Catch Just Let Go

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The latest report is that the US airstrike missed “three top al-Qaeda leaders” hiding in Somalia.

Earlier posting.

And apparently, when we do catch them, we’re still playing catch-and-release. It sounds like it was Hassan Abassi that Condeleezza Rice ordered released.

American officials say the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds Force is active in Iraq. A senior military official said last week that one of the Iranians seized in Baghdad late last month was the No. 3 Quds official. He said American forces uncovered maps of neighborhoods in Baghdad in which Sunnis could be evicted, and evidence of involvement in the war during the summer in Lebanon.

That Iranian official was ordered released, by Ms. Rice among others, after Iran claimed he had diplomatic status.

10 Jan 2007

Kenya Embassy Bomber Believed Slain

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AP reports:

A senior al-Qaida suspect wanted for bombing American embassies in East Africa was killed in a U.S. airstrike, a Somali official said Wednesday, a report that if true would mean the end of an eight-year hunt for a top target of Washington’s war on terror.

There was no immediate confirmation from the U.S. In Washington, a U.S. intelligence official said the U.S. killed five to 10 people in an attack on an al-Qaida target in southern Somalia but did not say who was killed. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the operation’s sensitivity, said a small number of others present, perhaps four or five, were wounded.

The report came as U.S forces apparently launched a third day of airstrikes in southern Somalia. Witnesses said an AC-130 gunship attacked a suspected al-Qaida training camp. At least four separate strikes were reported Wednesday around Ras Kamboni, on the Somali coast and a few miles from the Kenyan border.

Also Wednesday, Somalia’s Deputy Prime Minister said American troops were needed on the ground to root extremists from his troubled country, and he expected the troops soon. It was the first indication that the U.S. military may expand its campaign.

Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, who allegedly planned the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa, was killed in a U.S. airstrike early Monday morning local time, according to an American intelligence report passed on to the Somali authorities.

“I have received a report from the American side chronicling the targets and list of damage,” Abdirizak Hassan, the Somali president’s chief of staff, told The Associated Press. “One of the items they were claiming was that Fazul Abdullah Mohammed is dead.”

If confirmed Mohammed’s death would be a major victory for the U.S. in its hunt for the 1998 embassy bombers. The strike was part of the first U.S. offensive in the African country since 18 American soldiers were killed there in 1993.

07 Jul 2006

Life Under Sharia Law in Somalia

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Following news reports of several people being executed in Somalia for watching World Cup soccer matches on televsion, Mail&Guardian Online reports that the Islamic fundamentalists propose to enforce daily prayers by pain of death(!):

Somali Muslims who fail to perform daily prayers will be killed in accordance with Qur’anic law under a new edict issued by a leading cleric in the Islamic courts union that controls Mogadishu.

The requirement for Muslims to observe the five-times daily ritual under penalty of death was announced late on Wednesday and appears to confirm the hard-line nature of the increasingly powerful Sharia courts in the capital.

“He who does not perform prayers will be considered as infidel and Sharia law orders that that person be killed,” said Sheikh Abdalla Ali, a founder and high-ranking official in the Supreme Islamic Council of Somalia.

“Sharia law orders the killing of any Muslim person when he fails to perform prayers,” he said in an address at the opening of a new Islamic court in Mogadishu’s southern Gubta neighbourhood.

Ali added that it was the duty of every Somali to implement the provisions of Sharia law, which when fully accepted would allow “everybody to enjoy life based on peace and prosperity”.

And I used to think our nuns forcing us to attend mass on First Fridays during elementary school was tyrannical.

14 Jun 2006

Latest New York Times Leak

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John B. Roberts II, in the Washington Times, points out the latest damaging Intel leak in the War on Terror.

Two-and-a-half years ago, I first learned of the CIA’s covert program to use secular warlords to contain al Qaeda in Somalia. As early as 2002 intelligence officials concluded that al Qaeda had re-established an operational network in Somalia after being routed in Afghanistan. Some reports even suggested that Osama bin Laden crossed the Arabian Sea in a dhow and found sanctuary in Somalia after escaping the noose in Tora Bora.

Until now, I refrained from writing about the Somali front in the war on al Qaeda because of its extreme sensitivity and its vital importance. Regrettably, State Department career officials, in order to condemn the program, have now confirmed to the New York Times the existence of the covert operation being run by the CIA station in Nairobi, Kenya. This is an unconscionable breach of security that ought to outrage us all.

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Hat tip to James Lewis at the American Thinker, who asks the correct question:

How long will it be before the leakers are prosecuted for treason in time of war? Or will it take another 9/11?


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