British Muslims are travelling to Somalia for “jihadi tourism” to train for terrorist attacks in Britain, the secret documents reveal.
9:00PM GMT 03 Feb 2011
The United Nations special envoy to Somalia was so worried about rebels linked to al-Qaeda that he urged the United States to launch targeted strikes against extremists in the region.
But to the frustration of the Americans, Britain was slow to grasp the scale of the threat from Somalia, despite warnings that the largely lawless country was an “incubator” for terrorism.
MI5 now believes jihadists from the al-Shabaab movement in Somalia represent a significant threat to Britain. Jonathan Evans, the director-general of MI5, publicly warned of the threat last year.
Al-Shabaab controls large parts of the lawless south and has been linked to al-Qaeda. Pakistan was previously regarded as the training ground of choice for British terrorists.
In January last year, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN Special Representative for Somalia, told US diplomats that the country was becoming “a terrorist incubator”. “We are facing a very serious threat by people with money and organisation,” he said, adding that a “high number” of foreign fighters had joined the armed opposition, including American and British citizens.