An American strike killed Adan Hashi Ayrow, the commander of the Islamic militia Al Shabab, Thursday in Somalia. He was believed to be linked to Al Qaeda. The attack, confirmed by the pentagon this Thursday, was launched from a US army vessel off the Somali coast and targeted a house in the town of Dusamareb.
The order was issued from central command in Tampa, Florida having previously localized Ayrow through tapped telephone calls, local contacts and satellite images.
The attack flattened the house in which an Al Shabab meeting was being held and seriously damaged close by houses. At least 11 people were killed in the blast including at least one other Al Shabab leader according to a phone conference held by an Al Shabab spokesman a few hours after the attack. Ayro had already been targeted by a US attack in January 2007 but had only been lightly wounded.
Somali militia’s Al Qaeda ties
Pictures of Ayro are hard to find, the 30 year old, almost always refused interviews or other media appearances and was considered more a soldier than a politician by the people who knew him. However, the Islamic militia he headed controlled a great part of Somalia.
Accusations from American intelligence services of his ties with Al Qaeda were denied by other militia members. Washington claims that Ayrow was trained by Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and that he hid Al Qaeda members involved in the bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.
In one of the rare audio documents where his voice can be heard he responds to the American attack he was victim of in early 2007: “What crimes did I commit against them? Have I been to the United States or Ethiopia? Whatever they [the Americans] do and whatever missiles they fire at me, I am confident that I will only die my day when God judges me.”
Increased chances of anti American attacks
An Al Shabab spokesman declared that this attack would have consequences for US interests in the region as well as those of the countries supporting them.
Some specialists claim that the effect of such a decision — to eliminate Ayrow — would only serve to raise tensions in the country as they claim that Ayrow is easily replaceable.
Somalia has not had a central government since the fall of Dictator Mohamed Siad Barre who started a civil war in 1998. In 2006, while one of the most intense civil battles was raging, Ethiopia intervened and took control of most of the country. This move made several Islamic clans unite to fight against the invader whose position has become complicated.