ICC NOTE: Previously, the Islamic group had promised to not instigate any more military aggression in the country, but yesterday went against their word, taking over more territory in Somalia .
Somali Islamists seize checkpoints, demand sharia
Tue Jun 27, 2006
MOGADISHU (Reuters) – Somali Islamists seized more territory near Mogadishu overnight, witnesses said on Tuesday, prompting accusations they had violated a ceasefire agreement.
In the first attack around Mogadishu since militia loyal to sharia courts took the capital from warlords this month, five people were killed when gunmen seized three checkpoints from a warlord.
Abdi Awale Qaybdiid, who was part of the defeated self-styled anti-terrorism warlord alliance and has remained in Mogadishu , said he would respond to the attack.
Residents said Mogadishu was tense as night approached, with fears of overnight clashes erupting as fighters loyal to Islamic courts gathered.
“The Islamic courts militia have massed near the sports ground. I think there could be a confrontation with Qaybdiid’s fighters,” Furhan Gure, a resident, told Reuters.
The captured checkpoints are on the route to Afgoye, about 20 km (13 miles) from the capital.
Deputy Information Minister Salad Ali Jele said the Islamic courts had violated an agreement signed in Sudan ‘s capital Khartoum last week to stop military campaigns.
“They agreed not to start new violence,” Jele said in a statement from the southern town of Baidoa , where the interim government is based.
The sharia courts now control a large swathe of Somalia and have appointed Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, named in a U.N. list of al Qaeda associates, to lead their governing council, raising fears they want to impose Taliban-style rule on Somalia .
Aweys said in an interview published on Tuesday by the Xogogaal daily newspaper the Islamists would negotiate with the government but wanted to extend “sharia law and its order to all inside the country”.
Their victory dealt the U.S. counter-terrorism campaign an embarrassing setback, as its funding for the much-despised warlords gave the Islamists popular support that fueled their rapid march across a key part of Somalia.
Aweys again denied any affiliation with al Qaeda or other extremist groups.
“I am not on the American list of terrorists, but I am in a list of those who lost their money due to the closure of Barakat Money Remittance Company by the Americans,” he said.
Barakat — a Somali wire transfer company — was shut down by the United States after the September 11, 2001 bombings, in what it said was a move to stem financing for extremists.
Aweys said the Islamists would keep their promise to negotiate with President Abdullahi Yusuf’s weak but internationally recognized interim government.
But he said the temporary charter now guiding the government must comply with sharia.
“We will negotiate with them, discuss and remove the secular articles that are opposed to the Islamic law,” Aweys told the newspaper. “The TFG should accept this because the TFG members are also Muslim.”
“One of the pillars of our charter says any rule and law against the Islamic sharia law is null and void. We don’t see it as a problem,” government spokesman Abdirahman Dinari said.
Somalis in general practice a moderate form of Islam. Some said the Islamists’ planned stoning to death of five rapists on Monday, since postponed, showed they wanted to pursue a hard line despite presenting a moderate face. For the full article…