BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh
BBCi CATEGORIES   TV   RADIO   COMMUNICATE   WHERE I LIVE   INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC NEWS
 You are in: World: Africa
Front Page 
World 
Africa 
Americas 
Asia-Pacific 
Europe 
Middle East 
South Asia 
-------------
From Our Own Correspondent 
-------------
Letter From America 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 


Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

SERVICES 
Tuesday, 11 December, 2001, 10:31 GMT
US seeks al-Qaeda bases in Somalia
Somali children suffering from famine
Somalis are already struggling with drought and war
Factional leaders in Somalia say they have met United States officials seeking evidence of camps run by Osama bin Laden's al -Qaeda network.


It's a country virtually without a government, a country that has a certain al-Qaeda presence already

US Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz

There is no confirmation from Washington, but the encounter comes amid growing speculation that, after Afghanistan, Somalia could be the next target for US attacks.

On Monday, Somalia's interim Prime Minister, Hassan Abshir Farah, strongly rejected American charges of al-Qaeda bases in his country.

The militia leaders, from the Rahanwein Resistance Army, told the BBC they had discussions with 13 officials, including nine US officers, on Sunday night in the town of Baidoa, about 250 km north-west of the capital, Mogadishu.

US Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz
US says Somalia has an al-Qaeda presence

They said they told the officers about a training camp near the border with Kenya run by a Somali Islamist group, al-Itihad.

Washington says it has evidence of definite links between the al -Qaeda network and al-Itihad.

A local faction leader said it was now up to the Americans to decide what to do.

Escape routes

On Monday, US Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said the administration was trying to "observe, survey possible escape routes, possible sanctuaries" for al-Qaeda members who may attempt to flee Afghanistan.

Mr Wolfowitz said Somalia was an obvious choice. "It's a country virtually without a government, a country that has a certain al-Qaeda presence already," said Mr Wolfowitz.


We have sent to the Bush administration a letter of invitation to come here to see what is here... We are ready to fight against the terrorists

Hassan Abshir Farah

Denying the US allegations, Somali Prime Minister Hassan Abshir Farah told the BBC there would be no justification for air strikes against his country.

"We have sent to the Bush administration a letter of invitation to come here to see what is here... We are ready to fight against the terrorists," he said.

But the BBC's Ishbel Matheson says the US is not prepared to accept the denials.

Somali PM Hassan Abshir Farah
Somalia's interim PM denies suporting terrorism

US troops are said to be deploying to Kuwait as part of preparations for a Somali campaign.

Already a US warship has been stationed off the Somali coast and there have been reports that surveillance flights have been carried out over the country.

Mogadishu's transitional government controls only parts of the capital and Washington fears that the absence of state authority makes Somalia a potential haven for extremist groups.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Hassan Barisi reports from Mogadishu
"People are wondering where the al-Qaeda bases could be"
Somalia's Interim PM, Hassan Abshir Farah
"The allegations are baseless"
Mara Rudman, ex-US National Security Council
"I don't believe there is another specific target"
See also:

23 Nov 01 | Africa
US shuts down Somalia internet
08 Nov 01 | Africa
Somali company 'not terrorist'
26 Sep 01 | Africa
US targets Somali group
24 Sep 01 | Africa
UN pulls out of Somalia
21 Sep 01 | Africa
Somalia rejects Bin Laden link
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Africa stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Africa stories