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Friday, 21 September, 2001, 16:50 GMT 17:50 UK
Somalia rejects Bin Laden link
Somali President Abdulkassim Salat Hassan
The new Somali President supports the US
Somalia's transitional government has said that Osama Bin Laden would not be welcome there and has pledged to help the United States fight terrorism.

US intelligence has suggested that the man, named as the prime suspect for the 11 September suicide attacks on the US, may be heading for Somalia.

He would need a lot of security just to get around. It doesn't seem like a sensible place - Somalis talk far too much

Somali diplomat
Prime Minister Dr Ali Khalif Galayr said: "The Somali government has neither a direct link nor an indirect relationship with Osama Bin Laden," and called the attacks a "heinous terror".

Somalia has been devastated by civil war since 1991 in which clan-based militias have plunged the country into anarchy.

The transitional government still does not control all of Somalia's territory.

'Absolutely no'

Reuters news agency asked a government spokesman if Bin Laden would be welcome in Somalia.

"No, absolutely no," replied Abdirahman Diinaari. "The Somali people do not want any act of terrorism.... we have been suffering for the last 10 years and we don't want any disturbances."

Militia fighter
Somalia has had 10 years of fighting and does not want any more

A diplomat in Nairobi, capital of neighbouring Kenya, agreed that Bin Laden would be unlikely to seek refuge in Somalia.

"It is a place Bin Laden would stick out like a sore thumb," said the diplomat.

"He would need a lot of security just to get around. It doesn't seem like a sensible place - Somalis talk far too much."

Family members

US intelligence sources have said that Bin Laden is preparing to flee Afghanistan for Somalia and diplomats in east Africa have said that some radical Islamic groups in Somalia may be linked to his al-Qaeda network.

They also say that he has been preparing to send his wives and family members to meet him there.

Prime Minister Dr Ali Khalif Galayr
Prime Minister Galaydh pledges to help fight terrorism

The Somali language newspaper Ayaamaha reports that photos of Bin Laden are selling well in Mogadishu and are prominently displayed in businesses with captions such as "Muslim Hero, God is Great".

Meanwhile Kenya has also pledged to help the US-led anti-terrorism coalition.

Foreign Minister Chris Obure said: "The government of Kenya is committed to working with the US government and other governments to respond firmly and decisively to acts of terrorism."

US humiliation

In 1992 US troops used Kenya's seaport and airport in the coastal city of Mombassa as bases during a UN-led humanitarian intervention in Somalia where civil war and famine were killing large numbers of people.

However, the US withdrew in 1995 after suffering higher than expected casualties in fighting with local militia fighters.

Poster of Osama Bin Laden
Bin Laden posters are selling well in Mogadishu

Some observers have suggested that this history of US humiliation would make Somalia an attractive destination for Bin Laden.

Uganda has also said it will support the US.

"We will put all our means at the disposal of the international community in the fight against international terrorism," new Defence Minister Amama Mbabazi told the French news agency, AFP.

See also:

20 Sep 01 | Middle East
Algeria 'gives US terror list'
21 Sep 01 | Africa
Morocco deports 'Bin Laden ally'
29 Aug 00 | Africa
Somalia's new civilian leader
31 Jul 01 | Africa
Khat shortage hits Somalia
25 Jul 01 | Africa
Timeline: Somalia
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