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  • [SW Country]( WIC - Al-Hayat) Somalia Between the Fire of the United States, The Allegations of Bin Laden and the Obscurity Of “El Itihad El Islami” (Islamic Union)   Part III :Posted on [25 Dec 2001]

Somalia Between the Fire of the United States, The Allegations of Bin Laden and the Obscurity Of “El Itihad El Islami” (Islamic Union)   Part III 

WIC  December 23, 2001

Source Al-Hayat News paper
December 13, 2001  
Part 1     Part 2     Part 4

 

Will America Retaliate Against the Killers of its Servicemen in Somalia Nine Years Ago?
The Fighters of the El Itihad El Islami & El Kaeda Sneak from the Chaos of the Somalian War To Hit the Americans!

In yesterday’s episode we briefly dealt with the beginnings of the civil war in Somalia since the collapse of the regime of Mohamed Seyad Berry in 1991, including the status of the famine till the arrival of the American forces in this country within the framework of the operation “Restore Hope” at the end of 1992, which was immediately followed by the retreat of the forces of the “El Itihad El Islamic” (Islamic Union) movement from the capital Mogadishu and its outskirts to the south and north of the country where they set up camps and reorganized their ranks, and harbored elements from the Arab Afghans. These forces then started to march secretly and gradually to the capital by the end of 1993 with the beginning of the United Nation’s second operation in Somalia (UN0SOM-2).

Today we will deal with the conflict between the forces of UN0SOM-2 and the leader of the Somalian National Alliance, General/Mohamed Fareh Aidid which created a crack between the people of Mogadishu and the international forces through which the forces of the Islamic Union sneaked in to take part in the fight against the Americans (in Mogadishu). About this period Osama Bin Laden says “The only non-Somalian group that fought the Americans in Mogadishu was the Arab Mojahedin brothers who were in Afghanistan. The American administration knew pretty well that we were fighting them and declared that there were non-Somalian extremist forces that were fighting. They meant us.”

The United Nation’s second operation in Somalia “UN0SOM-2" started officially on Tuesday, May fourth 1993 and replaced the operation “Restore Hope” which started on Dec. Ninth, 1992 under un American command.

The commander of the international forces, which were led by American command, Robert B. Johnston handed the command of the alliance forces to the Turkish Shafik Beer, the commander of UN0SOM-2 who raised the flag of the United Nations on top of the building of the American Embassy, the general headquarters of the operation. 

UN0SOM-2 operation was the most ambitious operation for the United Nations in which 28 thousand servicemen and 2800 civilians participated afterwards. Its servicemen enjoyed the right of using force, which was an authorization that was granted by the Security Council based on the seventh article of the United Nations constitution. Such authorization was used for the first time in the history of the operations of the international organization. The authorization was not merely confined to self defense, but it stipulated the use of force to disarm the militias, to establish peace and rebuild the political structures in the country. Accordingly, the humanitarian task of the international forces in Somalia was converted into a political task in preparation for the national reconciliation and the formation of the government. This was the start of the fall of these forces into the swamp of the Somalian war from which they walked out after two years disgracefully and dishonorably.

Prior to such authorization by the Security Council an international conference was held in Addis Ababa which was inaugurated by the Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi on Jan. fourth, 1993 in preparation for the Somalian Reconciliation Conference. It was presided by the Secretary General of the United Nation at that time Dr. Botros Ghali. This conference ended on the eighth of the same month with resolutions most significant of which was holding a conference for reconciliation in Addis Ababa on March 15, 1993 to be prepared for by the operation of the United Nations in Somalia, and the declaration of immediate cease fire allover the country.

Each Somali a President?

Each and every leader of the 24 Somalian factions at that time considered himself solely qualified to rule the country, and to posses a program prepared for the foregoing; and the Somalian Islamic Union movement had also its program. At this period legal opinions were issued by Somali religious men instigating fighting the Americans. 

Calls were also issued from outside the country inviting Muslims to take the initiative. Among such calls was what the President of the African Horn Committee at the Global Islamic Relief Organization, Dr. Mohamed Khaled Defterdar told “El-Hayat” on Dec. sixth 1993: “The Islamic movements in Somalia have no past for them to have a future. They are confined to limited individuals and little groups which do not have a significant role. Accordingly, their future depends on their ability to develop themselves, take the initiative to get acquainted with a wider base and to open the door to deal with the people, and not to confine themselves and close the door in face of others; and in the ability of Islamic movements to act in a manner that would attract Muslims rather than repel them. I believe that the general Islamic base is repelled from dealing with Islamic movements."

He added: “Somalia is a muslim country and the grounds on which any reconciliation are to be based must be characterized by Islamic concepts, and no other road except this one will serve Somalia”.

Each Somalian party, including Islamic ones, started to prepare to defend its own political project, while UN0SOM-2 was trying to implement what was agreed upon in Addis Ababa.

The special envoy of the United Nations Secretary General Admiral Jonathan Hao supervised the first agreement signed by the leaders of the conflicting tribes on May sixth, 1993 in Kismayo city to put an end to the hostilities, and disarm south Somalia. But when the Admiral attempted to implement the same operation in Mogadishu, it was transformed into a fierce war between the international forces and the local militias. The Islamic movements exploited the outbreak of this war by the end of the same year to sneak into the capital to assume the biggest role in fighting the American forces.

Death of Pakistani Soldiers

On June fifth, 1993, 23 Pakistani soldiers were killed and 56 others were wounded from among the forces affiliated to UN0SOM-2 of which three Americans were also wounded. 35 Somalis were also killed and 131 others were wounded in clashes that broke out on that day in the southern half of Mogadishu between the forces of UN0SOM-2 and the forces of the Somalian National Alliance under the command of General Mohamed Fareh Aidid, supported by a population that was furious from the attempt of the international forces to occupy the radio station of Aidid. 

Such clashes were the first confrontation between the forces of UN0SOM-2 and the Somalian factions. They were also the most fierce ones in the capital since the start of the international operation under an American command in Somalia by the end of 1992. But such clashes were not prearranged by General Aidid who had previously apologized to UN0SOM-2 when his forces seized previously the arms of the Zimbabwean unit in Baldwin city, which he returned. He did the same thing when his forces intercepted a relief convoy in Bidawah city under the protection of a unit from the Indian forces. But this did not prevent the international forces to try to retaliate against the killers of the 23 Pakistani soldiers.

On June fifth, 1993 the Security Council held an emergency meeting at the request of Pakistan and authorized the Secretary General/Botros Ghali to take all measures required with respect of all those responsible for such incident, in order to impose an actual control on all Somalia for the United Nation’s second operation therein. 

On the ninth of the same month the United Nations started the first demonstration of its authority in the streets of Mogadishu since the death of the Pakistani soldiers, when Pakistani and Moroccan forces supported by other forces combed districts in the capital, searched all houses, confiscated large amounts of arms and arrested dozens of suspects for questioning. On the following day the spokesman of the American forces in the Gulf declared that 4200 American servicemen left Kuwait heading for Somalia. The White House spokesman De Mayers also confirmed the dispatch of four American IC-130 aircraft equipped for night attacks to Somalia in order to facilitate a prompt response for the killing of the Pakistani soldiers.

After only five weeks from the handing over of the American forces of the command of the international forces to the United Nation’s second operation in Somalia (UN0SOM-2), the Marines returned to resume work which they did not finish.

Mogadishu’s Night Turned into Daylight

In the dawn of Saturday, June 12, 1993 the first light broke out turning the night of Mogadishu into daylight when the three American attack fighters aircraft IC-130 dropped bombs on the capital, while elements from the Elite Soldiers in the American Swift Intervention Force affiliated to the Tenth Division of the army (1200 servicemen) advanced to comb the streets of Mogadishu. 

The sounds of the Super Cobra IH1W helicopters were heard firing their missiles on positions affiliated to Aidid. When the people of the city came out in the morning heading to their work Black Hawk helicopters flew above them dropping pamphlets calling them to rise against general Aidid. But the people arranged demonstrations against the international and American forces.

The raids were resumed the following day and destroyed a garage belonging to Othman Atto. The Pakistani forces fired their weapons at a demonstration against the United Nations, killing 14 Somalis and wounding 23 others. On the same day, General Aidid appeared in the middle of Mogadishu to address about four thousand demonstrators of his supporters and said: “I am proud of your courage in defending the independence of Somalia.” He requested conducting an independent investigation in the killing of 23 Pakistani soldiers confirming that he did not issue any orders to shoot them, and that 115 Somalis were killed since the incident and 427 others were wounded. 

On the 17th of the same month American airplanes launched their fiercest attack on Aidid's positions, including his house which was destroyed, and the place to which the leader of the Somalian National Alliance resorted was unknown. At the same time the forces of UN0SOM-2 resumed the operations of searching for arms in parts of the city through which confrontations took place leading to the killing of about 30 Somalis and wounding 45 others. 

On the same day, Admiral/Jonathan Hao ordered the arrest of General/Aidid in order to maintain his safety, and asked him to surrender himself to the UN0SOM forces.

It was obvious from such events that General/Aidid, who declared not to have given orders to kill elements from the international forces, wanted to settle the problem and not to aggravate it. At the same time the United Nations also wanted to put an end to the battles and to cease fire, but it could not overlook the killing of 23 of its forces, so the General continued his hiding in Mogadishu while UN0SOM-2 resumed searching for him

A New Element in the War

During this period a new military element emerged that was not familiar throughout the crisis between both parties. Such element was neither known nor used in the fighting between the local militias since the start of the civil war. 

On August eighth the first land mine blew up in one of the American serviceman carriers causing the death of four servicemen. A number of Somalis consider this incident to be the start of a new phase, and perhaps it was the beginning of the intervention of the forces of the El Itihad El Islami (Islamic Union) movement and its Arab Afghans and Kaeda guests in the war and their concentration on hunting down American servicemen, as said by Osama Bin Laden in an interview during this period.

On the 19th of this same month a second land mine blew up in a serviceman carrier causing the death of four American servicemen, and after three days a third mine blew up in an American military vehicle wounding six of its soldiers. It was clear at that time that the American forces in UN0SOM-2 were exclusively targeted by new military operations never previously executed by the Somalian militias. None of the Somalian parties claimed responsibility for such operations; to the extent that even Aidid himself denied responsibility.

But did the Americans know that the quarter that was fighting them at that time was perhaps El Itihad El Islami (Islamic Union) or elements from El Kaeda Network?

Bin Laden says in the same interview about this period “The American administration knew very well that we were fighting it. It declared that there were non-Somali extremist parties that were fighting, and it meant us. These were successful battles in which we inflicted large casualties on the Americans. We used to hunt them down inside Mogadishu.”

The military actions between the American forces and these unknown elements continued, and Washington consolidated its forces by sending a special group of commandos on Aug. 25th which started by landing on the roofs of houses suspected to harbor armed elements. On the 21st of the following month (September) these forces arrested the financier of Aidid and his right arm Othman Hassan Aly, known as Atto. It was rumored that the escaping General threatened to avenge if his assistant was not released, but he denied in a statement from his hiding place his pursuit of revenge.

      The Fall of the Black Hawk

Oct. third, 1993 was a black day for the American forces in Somalia, when it began by the detonation of a bomb in an American military vehicle, in which a Somali who was working with the Americans west of Mogadishu port was killed. In the afternoon of this day American Black Hawk helicopters dropped forces on the roof of the Olympic Hotel where armed elements were gathered inside the hotel, where a fierce battle broke out between both parties in which forces affiliated to Aidid took part. This battle covered most of the areas surrounding the hotel and was the longest battle which continued till the morning of the following day, when it was revealed that the militias have captured a group of the American forces and shot down two Black Hawk helicopters that were trying to rescue the prisoners. In this battle 12 Americans were killed and 80 others were wounded, and on the Somalian side 30 were killed and more than 250 others were wounded.

Aidid ordered his fighters to release the prisoners and to open a road for the American forces in order to be able to transport their killed and wounded soldiers, where there was one prisoner left who was released afterwards. On that day also the famous pictures were displayed on the television screens showing the body of an American serviceman tied by a rope and trailed along the ground by Somali young men in the streets of Mogadishu.

Observers who witnessed such battles in Mogadishu believe the Aidid forces participated in the battle of Oct. 3, 1993 within the framework of defending their leader who was chased by the American forces to arrest him, and that elements of other forces believed to be affiliated to El Itihad El Islami or El Kaeda, who mastered shooting down Russian planes during the Afghan War, were the ones who shot down the two Black Hawk helicopters.

Did the Americans know that? Most probably they did, and perhaps the only evidence at that time was the declaration of president Bill Clinton then to the effect that Washington decided after one week from the incident to abandon chasing General/Aidid and promised to withdraw its forces by the end of March of the following year. Clinton kept his promise, and Aidid went back to practice his political and military activity against his local militias adversaries which competed with him on controlling the country. He was killed in one of the battles with one of those militias in August 1996 which was led by Atto, his previous financier who dissented from him.

But, will the current president Bush seek retaliation against the real killers in Somalia? Does he know who they are and their whereabouts? will he be able to do that without the Americans suffering any new casualties in Somalia?



 Part 1     Part 2     Part 4

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