Intelligence: Listening to Somalia


December 28,2008:  On Christmas day, a UAV crashed outside the Somali town of Baidoa. Ethiopian peacekeepers in the area rushed to the scene, and kept people away. The UAV was believed to be an American Predator. Local civilians reported that a small aircraft had been circling the Baidoa area for at least a day. Earlier this year, another Predator came down near the town of Marka, further south.

The U.S. and France have a counter-terror task force in Djibouti, Somalias neighbor in the north. Manned and unmanned recon aircraft operate out of Djibouti, as do American and French special operations troops. Predators have fired Hellfire missiles at Islamic radical leaders over the last year, killing several of them.

Baidoa is the headquarters of the Transitional National Government, a coalition of clans and warlords, that is fighting several groups of Islamic radicals. Ethiopia has a peacekeeping force of about 3,000 in Somalia, but is in the process of withdrawing them. There are also nearly 2,000 African Union peacekeepers in Mogadishu, southeast of Baidoa, and these troops are likely to withdraw in the next six months as well. All that's keeping an eye on Somalia are U.S. UAVs, taps in local electronic communication, and a network of informants on the ground, maintained by U.S. Army Special Forces and the CIA.




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