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
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Female Care Worker

£7 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This expanding, vibrant charity which su...

Recruitment Genius: Parts Supervisor & Advisor - Automotive

£16500 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's leading...

Recruitment Genius: Housing Assistant

£16819 - £21063 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager - OTE £60,000

£35000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In 2014, they launched the worl...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones