Thursday, December 31, 2009

U.S. officials investigate Somali case for links to Detroit incident

Last month a man allegedly carrying chemicals and a syringe was arrested before boarding a plane in Mogadishu. Similar items were allegedly used in the attempted bombing Christmas Day.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Mogadishu, Somalia - U.S. officials are investigating a Somali man's alleged attempt to board a flight last month carrying chemicals, liquid and a syringe in a case with similarities to the failed bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day.

Terrorism analysts said the arrest in Mogadishu, the Somali capital, could prove highly valuable for the Detroit investigation if the incidents turn out to be linked.

The Somali, whose name has not been released, was arrested by African Union peacekeeping troops Nov. 13 before boarding the Daallo Airlines plane bound for the northern Somali city of Hargeisa, then Djibouti and Dubai.

"We don't know whether he's linked with Al Qaeda or other foreign organizations, but his actions were the acts of a terrorist. We caught him red-handed," said a Somali police spokesman, Abdulahi Hassan Barise.

A Nairobi, Kenya-based diplomat said the incident had similarities to the apparent attack on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 in that the Somali was said to have liquid, a syringe and powdered material -- items similar to those allegedly used by the Nigerian suspect on the Detroit-bound plane.

For the flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab allegedly hid the explosive PETN. In the Somali case, the powdered material smelled of ammonia. Samples were sent to London for testing, said Barigye Bahoku, a spokesman for the AU military force in Mogadishu.

That case drew little attention before the Christmas incident, but on Wednesday U.S. officials began investigating any possible links to the Detroit case. No officials would speak on the record.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said U.S. investigators were working with Somali authorities, and linking the case to the Christmas incident "would be speculative at this point."

Police spokesman Barise said the suspect in the Daallo case is in Somali custody.

U.S. investigators say Abdulmutallab told them he received training and instructions from Al Qaeda operatives in Yemen, which Western officials say is a jumping-off point for foreign fighters slipping into Somalia. Large swaths of Somalia are controlled by an Al Qaeda-linked insurgent group called Shabab.

If the Somali suspect was planning a bombing, it wasn't known what his specific target might have been.

Most passengers on Daallo's Mogadishu route are Somali. The carrier's website calls it the national airline of Somalia's neighbor Djibouti. About 1,800 U.S. troops are stationed in Djibouti; Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, would offer the greatest range of westbound flights.

1 comment:

Ciyaalka Xaafadda said...

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Islam, nothing than a Arabian culture, seeks the complete transformation of all other peoples into Arabism.