Tag Archives: Somalia

Pentagon: Drone Strike in Somalia Kills Over 150 Militants

by Jason Ditz

US drones launched a massive attack against an al-Shabaab training camp 120 miles north of the Somali capital city of Mogadishu, according to the Pentagon. Spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis claims over 150 militants were slain in the attack.

Officials say that they were watching the camp “for several weeks” prior to the attack, and the Pentagon claimed they posed “an imminent threat to US forces.” It’s not clear where those US forces are that were at risk.

The attack reported took place on Saturday, and US officials are insisting that there are no indications of any civilian casualties. This is a common claim after US strikes, though time and again civilian tolls start cropping up in the days that follow.

The Australian government also reported having seized a shipload of weapons that were on a fishing boat near Oman, claiming that they believe the weapons were heading for Somalia. This is adding to talk that al-Shabaab is on the rise as a regional force.

Leaked Documents Reveal Details about Obama’s Drone Program, U.S. ‘Assassination Complex’

While President Obama has made bold claims about using restraint in terms of declaring war on countries in the Middle East, his use of drone strikes on Middle East targets has abounded.

A new series of documents obtained by The Intercept “offer an unprecedented glimpse into Obama’s drone war” by revealing the inner workings of the United States military’s assassination program in Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia.

During a September meeting with a small group of veterans and Gold Star mothers of slain U.S. military personnel, Obama boasted about being different from Republicans in Congress regarding foreign policy.

“Right now, if I was taking the advice of some of the members of Congress who holler all the time, we’d be in, like, seven wars right now,” Obama said.

“I’m not exaggerating. I’ve been counting. We’d be in military actions in seven places around the world,” Obama continued, referencing the countries of Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Libya, Afghanistan and Yemen, which have all been targets of U.S. drone strikes.

[RELATED: Game of Drones: Majority of Americans Support Strikes, While Uninformed]

The Intercept noted that when the Obama administration “has discussed drone strikes publicly, it has offered assurances that such operations are a more precise alternative to boots on the ground and are authorized only when an ‘imminent’ threat is present and there is ‘near certainty’ that the intended target will be eliminated.”

However, according to documents leaked by an anonymous whistleblower, the actual numbers paint a much different picture. The whistleblower, granted anonymity by The Intercept, said he provided the documents because of the need for people to understand the reality of individuals being placed on kill lists.

“We’re allowing this to happen. And by ‘we,’ I mean every American citizen who has access to this information now, but continues to do nothing about it,” said the source.

[RELATED: Obama Has Sentenced Whistleblowers to 10x the Jail Time of All Prior U.S. Presidents Combined]

From January 2012 to February 2013, as a part of the campaign Operation Haymaker in Afghanistan, the documents reveal that “U.S. special operations airstrikes killed more than 200 people,” but only “35 were the intended targets.”

The documents note that during a five-month period of the same operation, “nearly 90 percent of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets.”

“Anyone caught in the vicinity is guilty by association,” the source said. When “a drone strike kills more than one person, there is no guarantee that those persons deserved their fate.”

The source also claimed that the program for targeting and locating suspected terrorists, which uses a phone number or email address to locate the target, is very unreliable, and he has come across countless instances where the intelligence was faulty.

“It’s stunning the number of instances when selectors are misattributed to certain people,” the source said. “And it isn’t until several months or years later that you all of a sudden realize that the entire time you thought you were going after this really hot target, you wind up realizing it was his mother’s phone the whole time.”

The source also noted that the military has a practice of “dehumanizing the people before you’ve even encountered the moral question of ‘is this a legitimate kill or not?’”

[pull_quote_center]They have no rights. They have no dignity. They have no humanity to themselves. They’re just a ‘selector’ to an analyst. You eventually get to a point in the target’s life cycle that you are following them, you don’t even refer to them by their actual name.[/pull_quote_center]

In 2012, Ben Swann asked President Obama directly about the “Presidential Kill List” that has included U.S. citizens such as Anwar al-Awlaki. Watch Obama’s response in the video below, as well as Swann pointing out that Obama’s drone strikes have occurred well outside of Afghanistan and Pakistan.



New Reports Claims U.S. Military Operating Two Drone Bases in Somalia

A controversial military unit is operating drone flights and other counterterrorism activities out of an airport in Kismayo, Somalia. Sources within the Somali government and African Union first confirmed the Joint Special Operations Command’s (JSOC) activities to Foreign Policy.

JSOC was the subject of journalist Jeremy Scahill’s documentary Dirty Wars. The film outlines how the unit is involved in dangerous night raids in Afghanistan and other nations. Now the elite unit is being dragged into the middle of another scandal.

According to the sources there are as many as 40 U.S. military stationed in Kismayo. The drone flights flying out of Kismayo are said to be surveillance flights, as well as covert “intelligence” and “counterterrorism” operations. Foreign Policy also reports that “Unmanned armed and surveillance flights are said to originate from Camp Lemonnier in nearby Djibouti or from bases in neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia.”

Several officials within various governing bodies and institutions confirmed the allegations. According to Foreign Policy:

“Another regional official, Jubaland’s minister of planning, international cooperation, and humanitarian affairs, Mohamed Nur Iftin, also confirmed the existence of the U.S. outpost and the use of the runway for drones, as did a cabinet-level official in Mogadishu. Kenyan Brig. Gen. Daniel Bartonjo, the sector-level commander for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), the multinational peace enforcement mission that has been battling al-Shabab since 2007, said that his troops have made gains against insurgents “with the help of the Americans who are here.” He made this comment in a June 19 briefing in Kismayo for Nicholas Kay, the special representative of the U.N. secretary-general for Somalia, attended by this reporter.”

A second base is reportedly operation out of a former old War-era Air Force base in Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region. Sources tell FP that between 30 and 40 military personnel are stationed in Baledogle Airfield military base. This unit is also reportedly conducting surveillance and counterterrorism operations using drone aircraft.

Foreign Policy also outlines the role the Central Intelligence Agency has played in training Somali soldiers. The CIA previously trained and equipped a secret Somali military unit known  as the Gaashaan, or “Shield.” However, FP has revealed that U.S. contractors are also training another secret unit known as the Danab, or “Lightning”. An official with the U.S. told FP that they have trained around 450 Danab troops.  Despite the admission from a U.S. official, military contractor Bancroft Global Development denies having any contracts with the U.S., stating that their role was simply to train soldiers.

Chuck Prichard, a spokesman for the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), did confirm that a “small number” of U.S. personnel with AFRICOM are special operations forces, but would not comment on the size or location of their units. Prichard would not confirm the use of drone aircraft.

“While we cannot provide exact details because of operational security issues, we can tell you [U.S. AFRICOM] has sent a limited number of trainers and advisors plus a small military coordination cell to support AMISOM and Somali security forces in international efforts to stabilize Somali,” Prichard wrote in an email to Foreign Policy.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimates that between 2007 and 2011 U.S. forces launched at least nine missile strikes or helicopter raids on terrorist targets. Since 2011 another 8 to 12 strikes have been confirmed.

The existence of a drone airbase in a country half way around the world should not come as a surprise to Americans. Currently the U.S. military operates bases in countries around the world. The existence of these two bases in Somalia is yet another reminder that the American taxpayer is funding wars and violence around the world without any accountability or transparency.

Is this what you want to pay for? A government that operates in secret and funnels your taxes to private projects in sovereign nations that have nothing to do with maintaining national security or freedom? We can do better than this. We deserve better than this.



Game of Drones: Majority of Americans Support Strikes, While Uninformed

Washington D.C.- Support for American drone strikes overseas has grown to over 60% according to a new AP-/FK poll. A majority of Americans believe that the use of drones overseas to eliminate or kill terror targets is not only a good use of technology, but also serves to protect our men and women in uniform. The poll found that six in ten Americans favored using drones “to target and kill people belonging to terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda overseas,” with only 13 percent opposed and 24 percent neutral. Support among Democrats was at 60 percent and reached 72 percent among Republicans.

According the same poll, fewer Americans support those same strikes when they are asked if innocent Americans could be killed during a strike. 43% of those polled say that American casualties are “unacceptable”.

“Americans are programmed to think they are better than everyone else,” Marjorie Cohn, Professor of Law at Thomas Jefferson University told Ben Swann. Cohen noted that mainstream media does not show the results of drone strikes, making it easy for the public to believe they are precise, clinical and don’t cause civilian casualties.


Interestingly, the AP/GFK poll did not ask respondents about the use of drones when there are foreign civilian casualties. Nor did it ask respondents about whether they support the use of drones even if it creates “blowback” or retaliation for innocent people killed.

Deputy chief minister of Pakistan's Nort

“Americans are told, ‘We’re getting the bad guys, no Americans are getting killed, so naturally they are going to support [drone strikes],” Cohn said. “They don’t realize that less than 2 percent of people killed by drone strikes are high-level Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders, and that nearly a quarter of those killed are civilians. That makes people in other countries resent us even more. It makes us even more vulnerable to terrorism.”

Watch Ben Swann’s Full Interview With Marjorie Cohn Here:

Homeland Security Admits: No Credible Terrorist Plot Against Mall of America

Following threats from Islamist militants in Somalia against the Mall of America, and the chief of the Department of Homeland Security’s warning that visitors to the mall should be “particularly vigilant,” the department later admitted that it was not aware of any credible plot from the militants.

On Sunday, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson appeared on Meet the Press with Chuck Todd. Johnson said that the American public needed to be “particularly vigilant” in response to the militant’s threats.

We’re in a new phase in global terrorist threat right now which involves core al-Qaeda, but now other groups, the ISIL group being the most prominent example of that,” Johnson said.

This terror threat comes at a time when Homeland Security is waiting for Congress to pass legislation to continue funding the department. The upcoming deadline is Feb. 27.

Regarding a possible shutdown, Johnson said, “It’s bizarre and absurd that we’re even having this discussion in these challenging times, given the global terrorist threat we’ve just been talking about, given the harsh winter we’re in the midst of, and all the other things that we do.”

The Mall of America, located in Bloomington, Minnesota, released a statement regarding the threat:

Mall of America is aware of the threatening video that was released, which included mention and images of the mall. We take any potential threat seriously and respond appropriately. We have implemented extra security precautions, some may be noticeable to guests and others won’t.”

Reuters reported that while security officials are “worried about the risk of an attack on U.S. soil by a solitary militant,” the group al Shabaab “has not appeared to gain much traction with most Somalis in the West, including in Minneapolis.”

Following Johnson’s comments, DHS spokeswoman Marsha Catron released a statement on Sunday saying that the department has worked with both the FBI and “private sector partners,” and has found no evidence of a credible threat to the mall.

“We are not aware of any specific, credible plot against the Mall of America or any other domestic commercial shopping center,” Catron said.

Pentagon Confirms US Airstrike Against Somalia

No Word on Casualties From Latest Attack

by Jason Ditz, December 29, 2014

The Pentagon has issued a statement confirming a US military airstrike against Saakow, Somalia today, with an eye toward killing an unnamed senior leader in al-Shabaab.

Though officials didn’t say who they targeted, they did say it wasn’t Shabaab leader Ahmad Umar. They also didn’t say if they got who they were aiming at, though they did say they don’t believe any civilians were killed.

US airstrikes against Somalia happen every few months, usually aimed at an al-Shabaab leader of some sort, though only once in awhile, as with the September 1 strike, do they actually hit their intended target.

Such killings rarely have a tangible impact on the situation in Somalia at any rate, as al-Shabaab seems able to replace even its top leadership without serious harm coming to their overall operations.

Rand Paul Calls for Declaration of War on ISIS

On Monday, Senator Rand Paul released the draft for a Declaration of War resolution against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which he plans to introduce to Congress in December.

Paul began the resolution by citing Article I, section 8, of the United States Constitution, which gives Congress the power to declare war. He stated that due to the fact that ISIS “has declared war on the United States and its allies,” along with the fact that ISIS “presents a clear and present danger to United States diplomatic facilities in the region,” the U.S. Congress should declare war in return.

The state of war between the United States and the organization referring to itself as the Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which has been thrust upon the United States, is hereby formally declared pursuant to Article I, section 8, clause 11, of the United States Constitution.

The resolution went on to state that it would give the President authorization to “use the Armed Forces of the United States to protect the people and facilities of the United States in Iraq and Syria against the threats” posed by ISIS.

In addition to taking action against ISIS, Paul seeks to repeal the authorization of the “use of United States Armed Forces against Iraq,” which was signed by President Bush in 2002.

The resolution also proposed that the “authorization for the use of military force,” which was signed in 2001, and has been used by President Obama to carry out airstrikes in Yemen and Somalia, would be terminated exactly one year after the resolution is authorized.

Regarding the possibility of using ground troops to combat ISIS, the resolution stated that ground troops would only be used “as necessary for the protection or rescue of members of the United States Armed Forces or United States citizens from imminent danger” posed by ISIS.

US Drone Strike Kills Five in Somalia, Including Key Shabaab Leader

This article was submitted by guest contributor Jason Ditz.

A US drone strike targeted a convoy of vehicles outside of the Somali port city of Barawe today, destroying multiple vehicles and killing at least five people, including an al-Shabaab commander named Ahmed Sahal Amey.

barAmey was heading to Barawe, according to al-Shabaab reports, to take part in a meeting of the organization’s leadership. The identities of the other four slain are unknown at this time.

Also unclear is if Amey was even the intended target, as separate reports quoting US officials suggested they were aiming to kill Mohamed Abdikadar, and they are unsure if he was killed or wounded in the attack. The Shabaab reports make it unclear if he was even present at the time.

This is the first US drone strike against Somalia since October, when an attack in Juba killed two people, both declared “senior leaders” in Shabaab, but neither was ever named.




This article is from Antiwar.com.  A friend in need is a friend indeed – and we need your help to fight this brazen state repression. We’re fighting to restore constitutional government in America – but we need your tax-deductible donation to do it. Please, make your contribution today!”