Warlord Vows to Fight for Mogadishu
One of the secular warlords who lost control of Somalia’s capital to an Islamic militia vowed Sunday that the battle for Mogadishu was not over -- an ominous warning for a city devastated by years of bloodshed and anarchy.
The threat came a day after Islamic fighters stopped showings of the World Cup soccer tournament, one of the first signs that the fundamentalist force now controlling nearly all of southern Somalia could install strict Islamic rule.
Muse Sudi Yalahow said his group of secular warlords was regrouping to fight the Islamic militia, which he accused of having ties to Al Qaeda. U.S. officials have said they supported the warlords’ fight against Islamic leaders sheltering three Al Qaeda members indicted in the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.
“The alliance will continue fighting until we win the war on terror. We will hand down the terrorists linked to Al Qaeda,” Yalahow said by phone. “We will never surrender our arms.”
The state of the secular alliance and how many arms it has was not clear. Many members are in hiding after weeks of fighting that killed at least 330 people, many of them civilians. Its leader was believed to be in Ethiopia seeking reinforcements.
Two people were wounded Saturday as the militia, which is controlled by a group of religious court leaders, broke up World Cup viewing parties by firing in the air and cutting electricity to theaters. The vice chairman of the Islamic Courts Union, Sheik Abdukadir Ali Omar, said it was a way to prevent “corrupting the children in this Muslim community.”
The Islamic Courts Union is a fragile alliance of radical and moderate Muslim groups from different clans. On Saturday, its leader, Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, denied that he wanted to impose a Taliban-style government, and said U.S. concerns of an Al Qaeda connection are “based on misconception.”