11 May 2006

Somalia: U.S. Denies Funding Warlords

Nairobi — The US government has dismissed claims that it has been funding warlords in Somalia to help in the arrest of suspected terrorists.

The US embassy in Kenya also denied having information on the alleged visit to Kenya of the former CIA director Porter Goss in February over terrorism in Somalia.

However, sources well versed with Somalia issues told the Nation that Mr Goss was in Kenya to strategise on how to fight Al Qaeda in Somalia.

The sources, both in the Kenyan security agencies and the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, said the director's visit was followed by a clandestine trip of CIA and FBI agents to Mogadishu where selected warlords were given between $1 million and $2 million to help in identifying and arresting suspected Al Qaeda operatives, notably the most wanted Abdalla Fazul, who is said to have taken part in the 1998 Nairobi bombing of the US Embassy and the 2002 attack against an Israeli-owned hotel at Kikambala, Kilifi District.

The sources said, however, that the plan appeared to have backfired since support for Islamic courts appeared to have increased tremendously "because the warlords were seen as agents of the US government."

The US embassy said it could not comment on the alleged visit.

"This is the only statement the US government has to make on Somalia at this time. I do not have any information on the CIA in Somalia," said Ms Jennifer Barnes, the press attaché, when asked about the visit.

She said the US policy on Somalia was to support the re-establishment of a functioning central government capable of bringing the Somali people out of the long civil war and addressing both their humanitarian needs and the international community's concerns regarding terrorism.

"An effective, functioning central government in Somalia is the most effective long-term means of addressing the threat of domestic terrorism... and international terrorism from Somalia," she said in a statement to the Nation.

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