Terrorism: November 4, 2003


A draft UN report concluded that Al Qaeda terrorists who attacked a Kenyan resort hotel and an Israeli-owned airliner in 2002 had plotted the attacks and obtained their weapons in neighboring Somalia, then were able to hide out in there afterwards. This adds support to U.S. concerns that Somalia is a haven for terrorists. 

The two shoulder-fired SA-7B missiles fired at the Israeli plane were delivered to Somalia from Yemen, before being smuggled by sea in August 2002 to Kenya. The attack organizer remains at large. The report did not identify the four cell members hiding in Somalia and gave no details on the Sudanese financier.

At least four of the terrorists remain in Somalia and there have been recent terrorist attempts to procure explosives on the Mogadishu arms market, as well as ongoing militia training in the use of explosives. However, the panel believes that additional weapons may have been imported into Somalia solely for the purpose of carrying out further terrorist attacks in neighboring states. Due to violations of the Somalia arms embargo, transnational terrorists have been able to obtain not only small arms, but also man-portable air defense systems, light anti-tank weapons and explosives.

Regional authorities are not being idle to the threat. Extra security measures were put in place at Nairobi's Eldoret International Airport at the beginning of the month, following the resumption of cargo flights. These measures are aimed at sealing all security loopholes that led to the closure of the airport to cargo flights. Casual staff working at the cargo section are now required to get background checks. In the past, cargo arriving at the airport was only subjected to physical inspection and firearms were reportedly smuggled in as motor vehicle spare parts. 

The United States is not taking chances over the possibility of terrorists laundering money through eastern and southern Africa. In order to cut the terrorists' supply lines, they are heavily funding the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG). The ESAAMLG includes Botswana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, while the governments of the US, UK, the Commonwealth Secretariat, the United Nations and World Bank have observer status.

According to a joint communiqu, Ethiopia, Sudan and Yemen have agreed to work together to combat terrorism. The ministers further stressed the need for intensifying border control to combat smuggling and illegal trade, and agreed to hold their next meeting in Sanaa in 2004.- Adam Geibel


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