London, May 23 (ANI): Al Qaeda’s franchise in East Africa, and notably Somalia, has become a greater focus of attention for the international counter-terrorist agencies, as a growing number of young Somali Britons who have received “global jihad” training pose a terrorist risk to the United Kingdom.
“Somalia has some of the characteristics of Afghanistan in 2000 and 2001 – a country of ungoverned space which AQ can exploit,” The Times quoted a senior Whitehall official, as saying.
For Britain, the evidence of spreading Qaeda training camps in Somalia is particularly alarming because of the large Somali community in the UK. About 70,000 live in London, 10,000 in the borough of Tower Hamlets.
Jonathan Evans, the Director-General of MI5, has emphasised that three-quarters of the agency’s international counter-terrorism resources still have to be devoted to Pakistan because of the 400,000 Pakistani-Britons who travel back and forth to Pakistan every year.
Most of the terrorist plots uncovered since 9/11 were connected in some way to Pakistan, the paper reports.
Somalia has moved up the agenda and is viewed increasingly as a terrorist haven and growing resource for AQ’s global ambitions.
Although it is believed that the motivation for young Somali Britons may principally be to receive instruction so that they can fight in Afghanistan or join jihad in Somalia, Whitehall officials accept that some might decide to use the expertise they have acquired in the camps to return to Britain and start planning attacks. (ANI)