Africa: U.S. Attorney General on Visit to Underscore Anti-Terror Cooperation

23 July 2010

Washington, DC — Attorney General Eric Holder will travel to Kampala to address African heads-of-state during the opening day of the Africa Union summit on Sunday.

Holder's trip, which includes two days in Cairo, comes two weeks after twin bombings in the Ugandan capital caused 74 deaths and scores of injuries. The attorney general will meet African leaders "to discuss joint U.S.-Africa efforts to promote peace, development and justice, including cooperation on fighting terrorism," a Justice Department advisory says. He is expected to be joined in those discussions by the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Johnnie Carson, who arrived in in Kampala after a stopover in Addis Ababa.

The timing of the Africa visit by Holder, who as head of the Justice Department oversees the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Agency, underscores high-level concern within the Obama administration over the growing threat posed by insecurity in Somalia and the actions of the Somali insurgent movements, particularly  al-Shabaab, which claimed to have carried out the Kampala attacks. The movement is waging a fierce battle inside Somalia to overthrow the Transitional Federal Government, which enjoys international recognition and U.S. backing but controls limited territory in the capital, Mogadishu.

Immediately after the July 11 bombings, which occurred during the final match of the 2010 World Cup, an FBI team was dispatched to Kampala to help with the investigation.

"We are making whatever assistance available to the Ugandan government as they deal with the aftermath of this attack," a senior administration official told reporters in a White House briefing on July 14. "We've also made sure that other countries in the region understand that the United States stands with them against these types of attacks that are carried out by groups such as Al Shabaab."

Several leaders of Shabaab, which was designated a foreign terrorist organization by the United States in 2008, are reported to have ties to Al Qaeda. Executive Order 13536 issued by President Obama in April "targets those who threaten peace and stability in Somalia and those who interfere with humanitarian assistance there," the official said.

"We have designated an Al Shabaab military commander, frozen the assets of a major Al Shabaab financier, and increased the tools available to support international efforts to weaken this group."

Holder travels to Cairo on Tuesday, where he is scheduled to hold talks with Public Prosecutor Abdel Meguid Mahmoud, Minister of the Interior General Habib Ibrahim al-Adly, Minister of Justice Mamdouh Merei and Minister of Legislative and Parliamentary Affairs Dr. Mufid Mahmoud Shehab, the Justice Department said.

The attorney general will also host a round table with reporters at the U.S. Embassy on Wednesday before returning to Washington.

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