Somali terrorists warn of reprisals on British streets

Islamists tell West not to intervene as London summit discusses future of war-torn state

Islamist fighters in Somalia last night warned of deadly reprisals on Britain's streets if the West mounted military action in the war-torn east African state.

As a conference on Somalia's future closed in London, the country's President appealed for bombing raids on the positions of al-Shabaab, which recently merged with al-Qa'ida. Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed said he would welcome air strikes against the "menace" of the insurgents, warning: "This isn't a Somali problem, it has to be addressed globally."

David Cameron left open the option of authorising action against al-Shabaab, which controls much of Somalia, but he made clear his preference for a lasting political settlement.

Last night the spokesman for the Islamist group, Sheikh Ali Dhere, warned it could launch terror attacks in the West if countries such as Britain and the US intervened in Somalia. "Your peace depends upon us being left alone," he told Channel 4 News. "If you do not let us live in peace, you will not enjoy peace either."

Al Shabaab was not invited to yesterday's conference, but Mr Cameron insisted its fighters could be brought into the tentative political process if they laid down their weapons and genuinely renounced violence.

Several dozen Britons are thought to be fighting for Al Shabaab and the fear in intelligence circles is that they could return to this country on UK passports with the expertise and motivation to launch terror attacks. The UK believes that Somalia, Yemen and Pakistan are now the world's main breeding grounds for Islamist terrorism.

Representatives of the 55 governments and international organisations at the conference included the United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon and the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. They signed a final communiqué calling for renewed action to disrupt terrorists travelling to and from Somalia and urging countries in the region to tackle money laundering and the financing of militant groups. They also backed a fresh attempt to catch the pirates operating with near impunity off the Somali coast and to find and prosecute the "kingpins" behind them.

The power vacuum in the country has allowed pirates to disrupt important shipping lanes and kidnap several western tourists. The British woman, Judith Tebbutt, is still missing after being seized five months ago from a Kenyan resort near the Somali border. Tanzania has agreed to detain and try suspected pirates captured by the Royal Navy, with Mauritius expected to follow suit.

Britain will lead an international taskforce that will attempt to identify the figures behind the pirate trade and to agree a common declaration that ransoms will never be paid. Somali pirates are estimated to have earned about £110m from ransoms last year.

The conference also called for "new momentum" to be injected into the political process, agreeing that a permanent government should replace Somalia's temporary regime by August.

Terror threat: Who are Al-Shabaab?

The group exercises control over vast swathes of the south, where it imposes its own version of Sharia, and until recently had fought African Union forces for control of Mogadishu. In August 2011, Al-Shabaab began pulling fighters out of Mogadishu, raising hopes that humanitarian groups would be able to step up aid deliveries. Its fighters come from Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Gulf region, as well as the United States and Britain.

Last month, the group's leadership announced that Al-Shabaab would be joining forces with Al Q'aida – with whom it had previously shared ideological ties.

Richard Hall

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
TVShow's twee, safe facade smashed by ice cream melting scandal
News
newsVideo for No campaign was meant to get women voting
Sport
Wayne Rooney talks to the media during a press conference
sport
Arts and Entertainment
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
News
i100
News
Down time: an employee of Google uses the slide to get to the canteen
scienceBosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder
Arts and Entertainment
Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
Extras
indybest
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Manager (infrastructure, upgrades, rollouts)

£38000 - £45000 Per Annum + excellent benefits package: Clearwater People Solu...

MI Analyst and SQL Developer (SQL, SSAS, SSRS)

£28000 - £32500 Per Annum + 28 days holiday, pension, discounts and more: Clea...

Creative Content Executive (writer, social media, website)

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum + 25 days holiday and bonus: Clearwater People Solut...

Reception Teachers needed for September 2014

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Re...

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?