Somalia: Somali-Swedes heading terror group

Somalia: Somali-Swedes heading terror group

Journalist and blogger Per Gudmundson revealed last week that two Somali-Swedes are top members of one of Somalia's newest and deadliest terror groups, Hizbul Islam (The Islamic Party). One of them was arrested last year by the Swedish authorities on charges of terror financing, but was released due to lack of evidence (In Swedish, here and here)

Both The Local and The Long War Journal reported extensively on this story, based on Gudmundson's report. Gudmundson was kind enough to update with me more info, which I bring here, putting together additional facts.

Three Somali-Swedes were arrested on charges of terror financing in February, 2008 as part of a joint Swedish-Norwegian operation. One of these was Yassin Ali (Baynax), then 42, a high ranking member of the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS) who lived in the Stockholm suburb of Rinkeby. Apparently, Ali was the same man in whose house police, in a previous raid, discovered a map of Lars Vilks' house and documents on military night-vision binoculars

The Swedish authorities held Ali under arrest for 105 days, on suspicion of funding the Somali group al-Shabaab, until they released him for lack of evidence. Swedish prosecutor Ronnie Jacobsson wrote then that "The investigation has not been able to show to a sufficiently high degree to whom or what in Somalia and for what purpose the money was sent."

The second Swede involved with Hizbul Islaam is Suldaan Garyare, also from Rinkeby. According to Gudmundson he is or was an active and well regarded member in one of the largest Swedish-Somali diaspora organizations in Sweden, which proves these guys are not fringe elements.

Garyare was never arrested for terrorism in Sweden, but he is said to be close to Hassan Dahir Aweys, a Somali that the US branded a terrorist as early as 2001. Aweys and Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, the current president of Somalia, formerly headed the Islamic Courts Union and the ARS. After the arrests in Sweden Ahmed had turned to the Swedish prime minister and asked to release the suspects, saying that the two suspects had never been members of al-Shabaab.

In late February the Hizbul Islam joined forces with Al Shahaab in the battle with the African Union (AU) peacekeepers that left nearly 50 dead and 300 wounded. Not only do Shabaab and Hizbul Islam reject the AU, they also reject President Sharif and his faction of the ARS for reconciling with the Somali government.


Gudmundson also noted that revelations of a Swedish citizen leading an Islamic terrorist group in Somalia hadn't gotten much attention in the Swedish press or among Swedes in general.

While news about Africa seldom attracts a great deal of attention, he theorized that Swedes' views about citizenship may also have something to do with the general lack of awareness of Ali's case.

"In the eyes of most Swedes, a Swedish citizen of Somali origin is simply considered Somali," he said.

"Swedes don't really think it has anything to do with them."


Previous reports on the terror financing arrests:
* Sweden/Norway: Terror financing arrests
* Sweden: Terrorism finance case update
* Sweden: Terror suspects had map of Vilks' house
* Norway: Somalis suspected of helping finance nun's murder
* Sweden: Somali ICU head asks gov't to free terror suspects

Previous reports on Somalis fighting Jihad in Somalia:
* Denmark: Somalis leaving to fight in Somalia
* UK: 60 British youth fighting Jihad in Somalia
* Sweden: Swedish Muslims getting al-Qaeda training
* Sweden: France arrests Swedish Somalia fighter

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