[dehai-news] Wired.com: Did Secret Orders Keep U.S. Commandos in Somalia?

New Message Reply About this list Date view Thread view Subject view Author view

From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Tue Nov 11 2008 - 05:50:20 EST

Did Secret Orders Keep U.S. Commandos in Somalia?
By David Axe November 11, 2008 | 3:53:37 PMCategories: Africa
 Fifteen years ago, a botched Special Forces raid targeting warlords in Mogadishu resulted in the deaths of 18 U.S. servicemen and hundreds of others. The battle, recounted in the book and film Black Hawk Down, cut short an ambitious peacekeeping plan for war-torn Somalia.

Since then, U.S. special operators have returned to the lawless East African country, thanks to secret orders approved in 2004 by then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and President George W. Bush, and reported yesterday in the New York Times. So now, the question becomes: How often have those commandos been in Somalia, and how long have they stayed?

Somalia hasn't had a functional government since a bloody civil war that began in 1991. In the absence of central authority, warlords, criminals, pirates and religious extremists have taken root, exacerbating what is arguably the world's most dire humanitarian crisis.

Chafing from the 1993 bloodletting, the world was reluctant to get involved in Somalia's problems. Then, in 2006, Ethiopia invaded, Blitzkrieg style. The stated goal: to root out Al-Qaeda operatives and other Islamic terrorists before they could become a bigger threat. It was just the kind of thing the Bush Administration could get behind, and the 2004 orders made possible covert action alongside the Ethiopian army.

"Shortly after Ethiopian troops crossed into Somalia in late 2006 to dislodge an Islamist regime in Mogadishu, the Pentagon's Joint Special Operations Command quietly sent operatives and AC-130 gunships to an airstrip near the Ethiopian town of Dire Dawa," the Times recalls. "From there, members of a classified unit called Task Force 88 crossed repeatedly into Somalia to hunt senior members of a Qaeda cell believed to be responsible for the 1998 American Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania."

That echoes reports around the time of the invasion, which said that "U.S. forces entered Somalia with Ethiopian forces late last month when Ethiopians launched their attack against the Islamic movement said to be sheltering Al-Qaeda figures."

In the aftermath of the invasion, the Ethiopians became an occupying army -- and their "defeated" foes from the Islamic Courts Union regime launched an Iraq-style insurgency that has claimed at least 7,000 lives. U.S. air and missile strikes on suspected terrorists in Somalia took place during this period, but were American Special Forces still on the ground?

The State Department says no. But the average Somali insists otherwise -- and there's cursory evidence they're right.

I examined this issue in my new book War Bots, in a chapter highlighting a suspicious drone crash near Mogadishu this spring. A medium-size drone, possibly a Boeing/Insitu Scan Eagle, went down around the same time that the U.S. Navy launched cruise missiles to kill Moalim Aden Hashi Ayro, allegedly Al Qaeda's top dog in Somalia. Cuing a cruise missile onto a moving target like a human being often requires a Special Forces assist. But even Special Forces need their own "eyes in the sky." Tellingly, the Scan Eagle had just been cleared for use aboard U.S. Navy Special Operations Command boats.

Does the crashed drone indicate a continued U.S. commando presence in Somalia? Maybe, maybe not. But even if Special Forces aren't there now, they could arrive any time, as long as the 2004 secret order remains in effect.


         ----[This List to be used for Eritrea Related News Only]----

New Message Reply About this list Date view Thread view Subject view Author view

© Copyright DEHAI-Eritrea OnLine, 1993-2008
All rights reserved