Africa and the War on Terrorism

CRS Report for Congress
Africa and the War on Terrorism
January 17, 2002
Ted Dagne
Specialist in International Relations
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division

Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress

Africa and the War on Terrorism
African countries overwhelmingly expressed their support for the U.S.-led efforts
on the war against terrorism shortly after the September 11 attacks on New York and
Washington. Some African countries are reportedly sharing intelligence and are
coordinating with Washington to fight terrorism in Africa. The governments of
Kenya and Ethiopia are working closely with U.S. officials to prevent fleeing Al-
Qaeda members from establishing a presence in Somalia. Africa may not be as
important to the United States in this phase of the war against terrorism as European
allies or Pakistan, but in the next phase of the terror war Africa may prove key.
The Bush Administration has been courting African governments to join the
U.S.-led coalition in the fight against terrorism. Administration officials are pleased
with the level of support they have received from African governments. In late
October 2001, President Bush told more than 30 African ministers who were
attending the annual African Growth and Opportunity Act Forum that “America
won’t forget the many messages of sympathy and solidarity sent by Africans.” Bush
Administration officials note that Africa, with its large Muslim population, can play
a pivotal role in solidifying support in Muslim and Arab countries.
Administration officials believe that Africa is a potential breeding ground for
terrorism. Indeed, in recent years, Africa has emerged as an important staging area,
training center, and a favored place to target U.S. interests. On August 7, 1998, mid-
morning explosions killed 213 people, 12 of whom were U.S. citizens, at the U.S.
embassy in Kenya, and eleven people at the U.S. embassy in Tanzania. In June 1995,
members of the Islamic Group, an Egyptian extremist group, tried to assassinate
President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
U.S. officials are closely monitoring countries vulnerable to terrorist penetration
and influence, as well as countries that are sympathetic to these groups. Although
there are over a dozen countries where terrorist groups have established a strong
presence in Africa, Administration officials are closely watching several countries,
including Sudan and Somalia. Sudan has long been considered a rogue state by much
of the world community because of its support for international terrorism. Somalia
is another country where the United States is seriously concerned about terrorist
activities. Since the ouster of the dictator Siad Barre government in 1991, Somalia has
been without a central government. The absence of central authority has created a
conducive environment for terrorist and extremist groups to flourish in Somalia.
Some African officials are concerned that despite the strong support African
governments have provided to the anti-terror campaign, they are not seen as real
coalition partners in the fight against terrorism. African officials note that cooperation
between the United States and Africa in the fight against terrorism should also include
extraditing and apprehending members of African terrorist and extremist groups
active in Europe and the United States. They argue that these groups are raising
funds and organizing in the west, often unhindered by western governments.

African Reactions to the Terror Attacks and Possible Support..............1
The View From Africa: Concerns...................................3
Major Terrorist Incidents in Africa...................................5
Terrorist Attacks on U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania...........5
Assassination Attempt Against Egyptian President Mubarak...........6
Focus Countries.................................................8
Sudan and Terrorism: Background...............................8
Sudan: After September 11....................................8
Somalia: Safehaven for Terrorist Groups?.........................9
Key Factions..........................................11
Al-Ittihad ............................................. 12
Regional Actors and Concern Over Terrorism.................14
Somalia: U.S. Concerns and Policy Options.......................16
The African Diamond Trade and Links to Al-Qaeda and Hizballah..........18
Alleged Al-Qaeda/RUF Relationship............................19
Threats in Other Countries........................................20
South Africa..............................................20
Nigeria ................................................... 20
Radical/Terrorist Groups in Africa and U.S. Policy.....................21
U.S.-Africa Intelligence Cooperation...............................21
List of Figures
Figure 1. Map of Somalia........................................23

Africa and the War on Terrorism
African Reactions to the Terror Attacks and
Possible Support
African reactions to the September 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade
Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington were overwhelmingly
supportive of the United States. Dozens of African leaders offered support to combat
terrorism. South African President Thabo Mbeki said that “The South African
government unreservedly denounces these senseless and horrific terrorist attacks and
joins the world in denouncing these dastardly acts.”1 The leader of Sudan’s National
Islamic Front government, President Omar el-Bashir, who provided a safe haven to
Osama bin Laden between 1991and1996, condemned the terrorist attacks and
expressed his government’s readiness to cooperate in fighting terrorism. However,
some celebrations were reported among Muslim militants in northern Nigeria in the
immediate aftermath of the attacks. In the Somali capital, Mogadishu, thousands of
people took to the streets in support of Osama bin Laden and burned American and
Israeli flags. Somalia’s transitional national government condemned the terrorist
bombings in New York and Washington but did not prevent the demonstrations from
taking place. An estimated 25 Africans from 13 different African countries died in
the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.2
Subsequently, some African governments reportedly cooperated with the United
States in its anti-terrorism efforts. According to press reports, the governments of
Djibouti and Kenya offered their sea and airport facilities for use by the United
States military. The United States has a military access agreement with Kenya, and
the U.S. military has used the sea and airports of Djibouti for refueling and other
purposes. The government of Sudan is also helping the United States, according to
State Department officials. Secretary of State Colin Powell called Sudanese Foreign
Minister Mustapha Ismail several days after the terrorist attacks, the first high level
contact between U.S. and Sudanese officials in many years. Secretary Powell stated
that Sudanese officials offered to cooperate with the United States and appeared
eager to join the coalition. According to press reports, U.S. officials confirmed that
the Sudanese government had given U.S. officials unrestricted access to files of
suspected terrorists and suggested that they might be willing to hand over some of
these individuals to U.S. authorities. South Africa evidently played a role as well.
According to the September 25 South African Daily Mail, U.S. officials “forwarded
a list of names with possible links to suspects in the attacks on New York and

1The Washington File. Africans Condemn September 11 Terrorist Attacks on the United
States, October 23, 2001.
2 The Washington File. Kansteiner Reviews U.S. Policy Toward Africa After Terrorist
Attacks, October 2, 2001.

Washington.” In October, South Africa and the United States signed an extradition
treaty. Kenyan security officials also acknowledged receiving a list of names from
U.S. officials.
Africa may not be as important to the United States in this phase of war against
terrorism as European allies or Pakistan. Nonetheless, observers note that Africa has
an important part to play in assisting the United States. The proximity of some
African countries to the Persian Gulf region could prove useful to the U.S. military
in some contingencies. Eritrea has ports at Massawa and Assab on the Red Sea and
in the past several years, Djibouti has emerged as an important refueling station for
U.S. military planes. A more immediate role for African governments is fighting
terrorism and terrorist groups in Africa itself. Africa has emerged as a safehaven for
a number of terrorist groups from the Middle East and extremist groups from Africa.
For over a decade, Sudan has been a safehaven for a number of terrorist
organizations, including Al-Qaeda, Islamic Group, Hezbollah, and Palestinian Islamic
Jihad. Some of the most destructive terrorist attacks in the 1990s took place on the
African continent.3 Terror groups from the Middle East have established a presence
in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda. In 1997, Ethiopian
security forces killed a number of terrorists inside Somalia after several terrorist
attacks in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. A senior Ethiopian official recently
stated that the government has “documents and pictures of dead bodies of Afghans
and Arabs” captured during the Ethiopian operations against Al-Ittihad al-Islamiya,
an extremist group, inside Somalia. Al-Ittihad is one of many groups designated for
seizure of assets by the Bush Administration.
The Bush Administration is pleased with the level of support it has and continues
to receive from African governments. In late October 2001, President Bush told more
than 30 African ministers who were attending the annual African Growth and
Opportunity Act Economic Forum that “America won’t forget the many messages of
sympathy and solidarity sent by African heads of state.” President Bush also
acknowledged the Organization of African Unity’s (OAU) political support for the
anti-terror campaign.4 Bush Administration officials assert that Africa, with its large
Muslim population, can play a pivotal role in solidifying support in Muslim and Arab
countries. In late October, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice urged
“African nations, particularly with large Muslim populations, to speak out at every
opportunity to make clear that this is not a war of civilizations, that this is a war of
civilization against those who would be uncivilized in their approach to us.”5

3For more on Sudan and terrorism see CRS Issue Brief IB98043 by Ted Dagne.
4The Washington File (Department of State). Bush Thanks African Officials for Anti-
Terrorist Help, October 29, 2001.
5Remarks delivered by National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice during the second AGOA
Economic Forum in Washington, October 30, 2001.

The View From Africa: Concerns
Some African officials are concerned that, despite the strong support African
governments have provided to the anti-terror campaign, they are not seen as valued
coalition partners in the fight against terrorism. Some observers are critical that the
Bush Administration did not extend invitations to African heads of state to visit
Washington for discussions on the crisis, as has been the case with many European
and other leaders. The Nigerian President is the only head of state who has been
officially received by the Bush Administration since September 11. Bush
Administration officials dismiss this concern, saying what is important is the level of
cooperation on the ground, and not a visit to Washington.6 African ambassadors in
Washington are also worried that sub-Saharan Africa may become a lower priority
and that U.S. financial support may be reduced because of the new focus on terrorism.
African officials assert that the United States has an obligation to assist them
financially because they have suffered economically due to terrorism. In October
2001, the Tanzanian ambassador to the United States told a congressional gathering
that his country’s tourism sector has been hit hard and has not been able to recover
since the U.S. embassy attack in Dar es Salaam, the capital, in 1998. Kenya’s tourism
sector is also suffering since the terror attack against the U.S. embassy in 1998,
according to Kenyan officials. In October 2001, the Ambassador of South Africa told
a congressional gathering that the South African airline industry has been harmed due
to flight cancellations and reductions in flights. African officials maintain that they
need U.S. assistance in fighting international terrorism in their countries. More
specifically, they would like to build African security capacity to detect, and deter
terrorist acts, but this would require extensive training and capacity building. African
governments also would like U.S. support in effectively tackling money laundering
by extremist and terrorist groups in their country. Expanding intelligence sharing is
another area where African governments would like to see some improvement. U.S.
security officials were appreciative of the support they received from Kenyan and
Tanzanian officials during and after the embassy bombings, but African officials
contend that they lack the resources needed to provide such support routinely.
Some African governments are concerned that they might become the next target
for U.S. military action after Afghanistan. Sudanese officials are reportedly concerned
that the United States may target their country despite recent cooperation with U.S.
officials. While U.S. officials have said they will fight terrorism wherever it is found,
they have not given any indication Sudan could become a target. The Bush
Administration abstained in late September 2001 on a U.N. Security Council vote,
permitting the lifting of sanctions against Sudan. In late October, however, the Bush
Administration extended U.S. bilateral sanctions against Sudan, citing continued
terrorism concerns. In a letter to Congress, President Bush stated that “because the
actions and policies of the government of Sudan continue to pose an unusual and
extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States,
the national emergency declared on November 3, 1997, and the measures adopted on
that date to deal with that emergency must continue in effect beyond November 3,

6 Remarks delivered at a conference in Washington by Jendayi Frazer, Senior Director for
Africa, National Security Council, October 2001.

2001.” Somalis are also concerned that their country could become a target because
of the activities of Al-Ittihad al-Islamiya and its alleged relationship with Al-Qaeda.
President Bush added Al-Ittihad to the list of organizations that support terrorism and
ordered the freezing of its assets, in accordance with Executive Order 13224. In early
November 2001, the Bush Administration added a Somali business, Al-Barakaat, and
froze its assets in the United States, because of Al-Barakaat’s alleged links with Al-
Qaeda. According to U.N. officials, the freezing of the assets has had serious impact
on Somalia’s fragile economy, because many Somalis depended on the services of Al-
Barakaat and it employed many Somalis.7
Some African government officials are eager to see the coalition against
terrorism led by the United Nations rather than the United States. These officials
believe that a truly international coalition led by the United Nations is more acceptable
to African opinion than a coalition consisting of mainly western powers.8 They
propose to strengthen the capacity of the United Nations to fight terrorism, partly
through the establishment of a new United Nations agency under the General
Assembly dedicated to fighting and coordinating terrorism efforts. Some African
ambassadors are concerned about pressures from the public at home concerning
African citizens detained in the United States. These ambassadors assert that they
have not had access to their citizens in detention and have been unable to learn their
identity or nationality. Citizens of several African countries, including South Africa
and Somalia, have been detained, according to African officials.
Cooperation between the United States and Africa in the fight against terrorism
should include extraditing and apprehending members of African terrorist and
extremist groups active in Europe and the United States, according to African
officials. African officials assert that they have not been able to get the cooperation
of western officials in extraditing individuals engaged in terrorism. They argue that
these groups are raising funds and organizing in the west, unhindered by western
governments. In October, the Algerian ambassador told a congressional audience
that his country lost an estimated 20,000 people to terrorism, but received little
support from the west. While some of these concerns are being expressed by a
handful of African officials, many Africans maintain that the United States must
address the terrorism problem in a more comprehensive way. Officials, especially in
countries with large Muslim populations, see the need for a fair and quick resolution
of the Palestinian problem.
Some observers are concerned that the anti-terror campaign could change U.S.-
Africa relations significantly. Democracy and human rights advocates fear that
governments with poor human rights records will be embraced by Washington as
long as they cooperate in the anti-terrorism campaign. Others express concern that
conflict resolution and development issues could become marginal for policy makers
in Washington. Bush Administration officials have stated that while the fight against
terrorism is a priority, other issues, such as trade, the fight against HIV/AIDS, and

7 Kaufman, Marc. Somalis Said to Feel Impact of U.S. Freeze of al-Barakaat. The
Washington Post, November 30, 2001.
8Remarks made at a meeting between the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) members and
ambassadors from Algeria, Djibouti, Tanzania, South Africa, and Kenya.

conflict resolution, will remain important priorities as well. In early November, 2001,
Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Walter H. Kansteiner told a gathering of
African ministers that the Bush Administration has five policy priorities in Africa:
expanding trade and investment; good governance and democracy; the environment;
conflict resolution; and combating HIV/AIDS.9
Some human rights activists and others are concerned that governments in Africa
may see an opportunity to label legitimate opposition forces as terrorists. In
Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe recently accused members of the opposition of
being terrorists. Since September 11, the government of Zimbabwe has used existing
and new laws to harass and intimidate members of the opposition and independent
journalists. In Kenya, members of the Muslim community complain of harassment
by government security forces. In Somalia, the Mogadishu-based transitional national
government is a target of attacks by other political groups, arguing that the
transitional national government supports terrorism. In several other African
countries, governments are enacting new security laws, allegedly to combat terrorism.
Some analysts believe that the United States must significantly expand its
intelligence presence in Africa in order to effectively counter the threat of terrorism.
They argue that the United States should also help build the security and intelligence
capabilities of African governments. These observers contend that while it is desirable
to secure and win the support of all African countries, only a handful are going to be
capable and suitable to join an effective partnership with the United States. Experts
note that Washington should identify relevant African actors and establish a special
security relationship with these governments. In dealing with terrorist threats in
Somalia, for example, Kenya and Ethiopia could provide key support to the United
States, some analysts maintain. Others are wary, fearing that close U.S. support for
some African governments would be interpreted as a reduction in pressure for
democratization and economic reform. From their perspective, encouraging good
governance, rule of law, and respect for human rights together with poverty
alleviation measures are all pivotal in building a strong and terrorist-free Africa.
Major Terrorist Incidents in Africa
Terrorist Attacks on U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania
On August 7, 1998, mid-morning explosions killed 213 people, 12 of whom
were U.S. citizens, at the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, and eleven people (none
American) at the U.S. embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. As many as 5,000 people
were injured in Nairobi, and 86 in Dar es Salaam. On August 20, 1998, President
Clinton directed U.S. military forces to attack a terrorist training complex in
Afghanistan and pharmaceutical factory in Sudan believed to be manufacturing
precursors for chemical weapons. U.S. Navy surface ships and submarines, operating

9The Washington File (DOS). Kansteiner Reviews U.S. Policy Toward Africa After Terrorist
Attacks, October 2, 2001.

in the Arabian Sea and the Red Sea, fired 75 or more Tomahawk cruise missiles at
the two targets.10
The government of Sudan condemned the attack, accusing the Clinton
Administration of aggression. The government argued that the strike was designed
to divert attention from President Clinton’s personal and political problems at home.
Government officials took reporters on a tour of the destroyed site to support their
claim that the facility only produced legal drugs. Thousands of Sudanese, reportedly
encouraged by government officials, took to the streets of Khartoum to protest the
U.S. strike. Critics in the United States also accused the Clinton Administration of
hitting the wrong target. Clinton Administration officials backed off from their initial
claim that Osama bin Laden was associated with the bombed facility, but maintained
that the facility was manufacturing precursors for chemical weapons. Secretary of
Defense William Cohen wrote that the Afghan-Sudan strikes not only were retaliation
for the embassy bombings but were also part of a long-term plan to fight terrorism.11
In a letter to Congress, President Clinton wrote that “United States acted in exercise
of our inherent right of self defense consistent with Article 51 of the United Nations
On October 7, 1998, U.S. prosecutors indicted four suspects in federal court on
charges related to the Nairobi bombing. Two of the men were arrested in Kenya and
extradited to the United States, and another was arrested in Texas. On November 4,
1998, a federal grand jury in New York returned a 238-count indictment against
Osama bin Laden. Authorities charged bin Laden with the U.S. embassy bombings
in Kenya and Tanzania in August and offered a $5 million award for information
leading to his arrest or conviction. In late May 2001, a federal grand jury in New
York convicted four men for the embassy bombings. In October 2001, four more12
convicted terrorists were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
In addition, eighteen more persons have been indicted, twelve are still at large, and
six are in custody awaiting trial.
Assassination Attempt Against Egyptian President Mubarak
In June 1995, members of the Islamic Group, an Egyptian extremist group, tried
to assassinate President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The
eleven-man assassination team had been given safehaven in Sudan where they
prepared for the assassination. The team was divided into two groups: nine were sent
to Ethiopia to carry out the assassination; and two, according to a statement issued
by the Ethiopian government, remained in Sudan to plan and direct the killing of
Mubarak. The weapons used in the assassination attempt were flown into Ethiopia
by Sudan Airways, according to U.S. and Ethiopian officials, although the

10For more on the embassy bombings see archived CRS Issue Brief IB10056.
11 Cohen, William. The Washington Post, August 23, 1998.
12 Weiser, Benjamin. A Nation Challenged: The Courts. The New York Times, October 19,


government of Sudan denied complicity in the foiled attempt. The passports used by
the terrorists were also prepared in Khartoum, according to a United Nations report.13
The attempt on Mubarak’s life was foiled when Ethiopian security forces killed
five of the assassins and captured three several days later. One of the accused
assassins escaped to Sudan on Sudan Airways, where he joined the two alleged
conspirators who had remained in Sudan. The government of Sudan did not deny or
confirm the presence of the three suspects when confronted by Ethiopian officials in
late 1995. In an effort to close the case without acknowledging complicity, the Sudan
government dismissed its Minister of Interior and reassigned some in the security
services. Ethiopia’s effort to settle the matter bilaterally failed after Khartoum refused
to extradite the three suspects. Ethiopia brought the case to the Organization of
African Unity (OAU) in an effort to resolve the matter regionally. Then, with Sudan’s
continued intransigence, Ethiopia turned to the United Nations Security Council.
Although the three suspects were by then believed to have left Sudan, Ethiopia, the
OAU, and the U.N. insisted that it was the responsibility of the government of Sudan
to hand over the suspects. Meanwhile, the other three suspects, who had been in
detention since June 1995 in Ethiopia, were sentenced to death in September 1996.
In late March 1997, Ethiopia’s Federal High Court upheld the sentence.
The United Nations Security Council passed three resolutions demanding the
extradition of the three suspects to Ethiopia. In January 1996, the Security Council
passed Resolution 1044 calling on the government of Sudan to “undertake immediate
action to extradite to Ethiopia for prosecution the three suspects sheltering in Sudan.”
The same resolution called on the government to “desist from engaging in activities
of assisting, supporting and facilitating terrorist activities and from giving shelter and
sanctuaries to terrorist elements.”14 In April 1996, in the face of non-compliance by
the government of Sudan, the Council imposed a series of sanctions, including the
reduction of embassy staff of Sudan and the banning of senior officials from visiting
member countries. In August 1996, the Council imposed additional sanctions.
Resolution 1070 banned Sudan Airways from flying outside Sudan, but called for a
90 day waiting period before implementation. The Council postponed imposition of
the ban again in December 1996. The ban did not go into effect because of
disagreement in the Council. In late 2000, the governments of Egypt and Ethiopia
expressed support for the lifting of sanctions, but the Clinton Administration rejected
such a move. In late September 2001, the Bush Administration abstained, paving the
way for the lifting of the sanctions.

13See Report of the Secretary General of the United Nations Pursuant to Security Council
Resolution 1044, 1996.
14For texts of these resolutions and background, see CRS Report 97-427, Sudan: Civil War,
Terrorism and U.S. Relations, by Ted Dagne.

Focus Countries
Sudan and Terrorism: Background
Sudan has long been considered a rogue state by many because of its support for
international terrorism. The State Department’s 1999 Patterns of Global Terrorism
report said that Sudan “continued to serve as a central hub for several terrorist
groups, including Osama Bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda organization. The Sudanese
government also condoned Iran’s assistance to terrorist and radical Islamist groups
operating in and transiting through Sudan.” According to the report, “Khartoum
served as a meeting place, safehaven, and training hub for members of the Lebanese
Hizballah, Egyptian Islamic Group, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, HAMAS, and the
Abu Nidal organization.” The Department’s 2000 report credited the NIF
government with taking positive steps in the fight against terrorism. According to the
report, by the end of 2000, “Sudan had signed all 12 international conventions for
combating terrorism and had taken several other positive counter terrorism steps,
including closing down the Popular Arab and Islamic Conference, which served as a
forum for terrorists.” The same report stated, however, that Sudan “continued to be
used as a safehaven by members of various groups, including associates of Osama bin
Laden’s Al-Qaeda organization, Egyptian Islamic Group, Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the
Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Hamas.”
The United States placed Sudan on the list of states that sponsor terrorism in
August 1993 after an interagency review and congressional pressure. In announcing
the decision, the Clinton Administration said that Sudan “repeatedly provided support
for acts of international terrorism and allows the use of its territory for terrorist
groups.” Both the first Bush and Clinton Administrations had repeatedly warned the
government of Sudan about the activities of groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah, Abu
Nidal, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Khartoum does not deny the presence of
some of these groups on its territory but rejects Washington’s description of them as
terrorist organizations. Sudan has also been a safehaven for major terrorist figures.
A particularly noteworthy example is the Saudi-born Osama bin Laden. He used
Sudan as a base of operations until he went to Afghanistan in mid 1996, where he had
previously been a major financier of Arab volunteers in the war against the Soviet
occupation of Afghanistan. The government of Sudan claims that it expelled Bin
Laden from Sudan due to pressures from the Middle East and the United States.15
Sudan: After September 11
Sudan’s reactions to the September 11 terrorist attacks and U.S. military actions
against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda have been mixed. President Omar el-Bashir
condemned the terrorist attacks and expressed his government’s readiness to
cooperate in fighting terrorism. Secretary of State Colin Powell called Sudanese
Foreign Minister Mustapha Ismail several days after the terrorist attacks, the first

15Gellman, Barton. U.S. Was Foiled Multiple Times in Efforts to Capture Bin Laden or Have
Him Killed. The Washington Post, October 3, 2001.

high-level contact between U.S. and Sudanese officials in several years. Secretary
Powell stated that Sudanese officials offered to cooperate with the United States and
appear eager to join the coalition. According to press reports, U.S. officials
confirmed that the government of Sudan has given U.S. officials unrestricted access
to files of suspected terrorists and suggested that they might be willing to hand over
some of these individuals to U.S. authorities.
Sudanese officials are sending mixed signals about their level of cooperation with
the United States. According to Secretary of State Powell, the NIF government has
been “rather forthcoming in giving us access to certain individuals within the country
and in taking other actions which demonstrate to us a change in attitude.” The
Foreign Minister of Sudan, on the other hand, downplayed the extent of the
cooperation described by U.S. officials. He stated that “Washington has not so far
presented Sudan with any list of wanted people ... and we have not turned over any
suspects.” In late September, State Department spokesman, Richard Boucher told
reporters that Sudanese authorities “recently apprehended extremists within that
country whose activities may have contributed to international terrorism.”16
Sudanese government reaction to U.S. military attacks against the Taliban and17
Al-Qaeda forces in Afghanistan has been critical. In early October 2001, Sudan
issued a statement criticizing the U.S. military action against Afghanistan, after a
cabinet meeting chaired by President Bashir. The National Assembly of Sudan also
criticized the U.S. military attacks against Afghanistan as “unjustified and lacking
legitimacy.” Meanwhile, anti-American demonstrations in Khartoum became more
frequent. On October 9, 2001, Islamic clerics led several thousand protestors in an
anti-American demonstration in Khartoum. The demonstration was dispersed by
police after protestors attempted to storm the U.S. embassy.
Somalia: Safehaven for Terrorist Groups?
Since the ouster of the government of dictator Siad Barre in 1991, Somalia has
been without a central government. Efforts to bring stability to the Horn of Africa
country have failed repeatedly. Warlords and political factions control territories, and
factional fighting continues unabated. In 1991, the Somali National Movement
(SNM) declared the north-west region independent and renamed it Somaliland. In
the northeast, in Puntland, another group is in charge. In the south, a number of
political actors and warlords claim legitimacy but no single group is in firm control
of the region. In 2000, after several months of talks in neighboring Djibouti, a
number of Somali political figures formed the transitional national government. The
transitional national government appointed Abdulqassim Salad Hassan president and
Ali Khalif Galaydh prime minister.18 Some members of the international community
have expressed support for the Transitional national government but have not

16Wright, Jonathan. Reuters. Sudan Arrests Extremists, Says Ready to Help, September 29,


17 BBC Online. Sudanese Government Rejects Attack on Afghanistan, October 8, 2001.
18For more on this, see CRS Report RL30065, Somalia: Prospects for Peace and U.S.
Involvement, by Theodros Dagne. February 17, 1999.

recognized the fragile government. The Somaliland government is also not
recognized by the international community, despite the relative stability in that part
of the country.
Several Somali groups, as well
Somali Groups and Key Playersas the government in Somaliland,
are concerned about the spread of
The Transitional National GovernmentIslamic fundamentalism in Somalia.
Founded in 2000 after the Arta Conference inIn the mid-1990s, Islamic courts
Djibouti. Leader: President Abdulkassim Saladbegan to emerge in parts of the
Hassan. Headquarters:, especially in the capital,
The Government of SomalilandMogadishu. These courtsfunctioned as a government and
Declared independence in 1991. Leader:often enforced decisions by using
President Mohamed Egal. Headquarters:
northwest Somalia (Hargeysa).their own Islamic militia. Members
of the Al-Ittihad militia reportedly
The Somali Reconstruction and Restorationprovided the bulk of the security
Council (SRRC)forces for these courts. A number
A coalition of Somali groups founded in Marchof Somali groups and outside
2001 with the help of Ethiopia. Leader:observers believe that the
Presidential Council compose of several factiontransitional national government is
leaders, chaired by Hussein Aideed.dominated by Islamic fundamentalist
Headquarters: Baidoa.groups and that members of the Al-
Ittihad security forces, who
The Government of Puntlandpreviously served as the Islamic
Founded in 1998 and headed until mid 2001 bycourts police, are being integrated
President Abdullahi Yusuf, a pro-Ethiopiainto the new government’s security
faction Leader. Leader: Jama Ali Jama.forces.19 The transitional national
Headquarters: Northeastern Somalia.
government has repeatedly denied
any links to terrorist organizations
and Islamic fundamentalist groups.
Transitional national government officials have repeatedly stated that they are”ready
to cooperate with the United States in the war against terrorism.20 The transitional
national government is opposed by a number of groups in Somalia and has not
received official recognition from a single country.

19Reuters. U.S. Forces Welcome in Somalia, December 15, 2001.
20 Maclean, William. Reuters. U.S. Forces Welcome to Deploy in Somalia, December 16,


The absence of central
Faction Leadersauthority in parts of Somalia has
created an environment conducive
Hussein Aideedto terrorist and extremist groups,
Leader of the United Somali Congress/Somaliand analysts do not doubt that they
National Alliance (USC/SNA). Area ofare present in Somalia, although
Influence: Parts of Mogadishu. Clantheir current strength and numbers
Affiliation: Hawiye.are uncertain. Ethiopian security
forces invaded Somalia on a
Osman Ali Atonumber of occasions to disrupt the
Leader of a splintered faction of USC/SNA.activities of Al-Ittihad and its allies.
Area of Influence: Parts of Mogadishu. ClanAl-Ittihad operates in Somalia and
Affiliation: the Somali-inhabited region of
Muse Sudi YalahowEthiopia. U.S. officials accuse Al-Ittihad of ties to Al-Qaeda and
Leader of United Somali Congress/ Somaliother Middle Eastern groups. The
Salvation Alliance. Area of Influence: Parts of
Mogadishu. Clan Affiliation: HawiyeU.S. government, in its indictment
against Osama bin Laden and his
Mohammed Hirsi Morganassociates for the 1998 U.S.
Leader of Somali Patriotic Movement. Area ofembassy bombings, stated that “at
Influence: Kismayu. Clan Affiliation: Darod.various times from or about 1992
until in or about 1993, the
Mohamed Nur Shatigududdefendant Osama Bin Laden,
Leader of the Rahanwein Resistance Armyworking together with members of
(RRA). Area of Influence: Bay and Baykolthe Fatwah (Islamic ruling)
regions. Clan Affiliation: Rahanwein.committee of Al-Qaeda,
disseminated Fatwahs to other
Aden Abdullahi Gabyowmembers and associates of Al-
Leader of the Somali Patriotic Movement. AreaQaeda that the United States forces
of Influence: Kismayu region. Clanin the Horn of Africa, including
Affiliation: Darod.Somalia, should be attacked.”
Abdullahi YusufFurthermore, the indictment stated
Leader of the Somali Salvation Democraticthat Al-Qaeda members provided
Front (SSDF). Area of Influence: Puntland.military training to Somali groups
Clan Affiliation: Darodopposed to U.S. military presence
in Somalia.
Key Factions. Somalia is a
country divided along clan lines, and many armed factions operate in different parts
of the country. Principally, there are three major regions dominated by clan-based and
coalition groups. In Somaliland, President Egal has been the dominant figure since
the early 1990s. In May 1998, delegates from northeast Somalia created an
autonomous region and named it Puntland. The leader of the Somali Salvation
Democratic Front (SSDF), Colonel Abdullahi Yusuf, became president. Puntland
supports the unity of Somalia under a federal system and is considered a close ally of
Ethiopia. The south and the capital Mogadishu remain unstable, and numerous
warlords compete for control of the capital, including Hussein Aideed and Osman
Ato. The transitional national government is also competing for control of
Mogadishu and is seeking international recognition as the legitimate government of

In addition to the clan-based factions are Islamic groups which are competing
for control. Very little is known about the leadership or organizational structure of
these groups. There are three Islamic groups in Somalia whose prominence has
alternately waxed and waned: Al-Ittihad Al-Islamiya (mentioned above), Al-Islah
(Reform), and Al-Tabligh (Conveyers of God’s Work). In 1995, a group called Jihad
al-Islam, led by Sheikh Abbas bin Omar, emerged in Mogadishu, and gave the two
main warlords, General Mohamed Farah Aideed and Ali Mahdi, an ultimatum to end
their factional fighting. The group claimed at that time that it maintained offices in
several countries, including Yemen, Pakistan, Kenya, and Sudan. Not much was
heard subsequently from Jihad al-Islam, although a group of Somalis later formed the
Shari’a Implementation Club (SIC) in 1996. The group’s principal objective was to
establish Shari’a courts throughout the country. Some members of the transitional
national government were key in the establishment of these courts. Very little is
known about al-Islah, although it is perceived as a group dominated by Hawiye clan
Al-Ittihad. Al-Ittihad is perhaps the most active and at one point successful of
all the Islamic groups. Indeed, Al-Ittihad is an Islamic fundamentalist group whose
principal ideology and objective is to establish an Islamic state in Somalia. Founded
in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Al-Ittihad unsuccessfully sought to replace clan and
warlord politics with an Islamic state. In the early 1990s, Al-Ittihad had modest
successes; it administered territories under its control in the south. But Al-Ittihad
never emerged as a major military or political force in Somalia. The clan-based
groups and factions led by warlords in Mogadishu are secular and have been at odds
with Al-Ittihad, even though some of these groups maintained tactical alliances from
time to time with Al-Ittihad. Al-Ittihad’s failure to maintain control over territories
and spread its ideology, led to a shift in strategy in the mid-1990s. Al-Ittihad
abandoned its ambition to spread its ideology through military means and began to
concentrate on providing social services to communities through Islamic schools and
health care centers.
Al-Ittihad’s Somalia social activities and religious objectives seem inconsistent
with its activities in the Somali region of Ethiopia. In Ethiopia, Al-Ittihad is actively
engaged in military activities in support of ethnic Somalis. Al-Ittihad closely
coordinates its activities with elements in the Ogaden region that are at war with the
Ethiopian government. Several anti-Ethiopian groups are active in the Somali region
and Al-Ittihad operates with these groups in carrying out attacks against Ethiopian
targets. In 1999, the Ogaden Islamic Union under the leadership of Muhammad
Muallem Omar Abdi, the Somali People’s Liberation Front under the leadership of
Ahmed Ali Ismail, and the Western Somali Liberation Front under the leadership of
Muhammad Haji Ibrahim Hussein formed a coalition called the United Front for the
Liberation of Western Somalia, their term for the Somali-inhibited region of
Ethiopia.21 The Ogaden National Liberation Front also claims to be engaged in
military activities in the region, and had in the past formed alliances with other
Ethiopian opposition groups.

21Foreign Broadcast Information Services (FBIS). Islamists Regroup Their Forces After
Ethiopian Preemptive Strike, May 17-23, 1999.

Many Somali watchers believe that Al-Ittihad’s strength is highly exaggerated
and that information about its alleged links with international terrorist organizations
is unreliable. There is no reliable information or pattern of behavior to suggest that
Al-Ittihad has an international agenda as has been the case with the National Islamic
Front government of Sudan. Some observers note that if Al-Ittihad had a clear
internationally-oriented agenda, its obvious ally in the region would be the NIF regime
in Sudan or the Sudanese-backed Eritrean Islamic Jihad. The Sudanese regime did
back regional extremist groups and international terrorist organizations, but there was
no apparent relationship between the NIF and Al-Ittihad. But others accuse Al-Ittihad
of being a secretive group that coordinates its activities with terrorist organizations.
Some observers contend that Al-Ittihad and Al-Qaeda were behind the killings of the22
18 U.S. Rangers in Mogadishu in 1993. Al-Ittihad is also accused of receiving funds
from Al-Qaeda.
Since President Bush placed Al-Ittihad on the list of terrorism-related entities in
September 2001 (see below), press reports and information about this group have
increased. Somali warlords, especially those backed by Ethiopia such as the Somali
Reconciliation and Restoration Council (SRRC), headquartered in Baidoa, and
vehemently opposed to the transitional national government, have been actively
engaged in a public relations campaign to portray their political enemies as terrorists.
The government of Ethiopia has also been very vocal in portraying Al-Ittihad and the
transitional national government as terrorist groups.23 Information from these sources
are generally vague and lacks clear evidence.
Moreover, neither the Ethiopian government nor others have been able to
provide information about locations of training camps, links between the transitional
national government and Al-Ittihad and Al-Qaeda, the identity of members of Al-
Qaeda or their activities in Somalia. Nor have they offered clear evidence on acts of
terrorism against U.S. targets by Al-Ittihad. Somali observers note that Al-Ittihad
does not have territories under its control and does not have the military capabilities
to wrest control from any of the well-entrenched warlords. In December 2001,
however, Secretary of State Colin Powell stated that “some bin Laden followers are
holed up there (Somalia), taking advantage of the absence of a functioning
government.”24 Moreover, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard
Myers, stated in late December that the United States has “strong indications Somalia25
is linked to Osama bin Laden.” In January 2002, U.S. and allied forces reportedly
expanded their military presence in East Africa. According to press reports the

22 FBIS Translated Text. Al-Hayah. Report on Links Between al-Qaeda, Somalia’s Islamic
Union, Part 4. December 13, 2001.
23 FBIS Translated Text. Al-Hayah, Ethiopian Prime Minister on Terrorism in Somalia, Ties
with U.S., Other Issues. November 24, 2001.
24Sipress, Alan and Peter Slevin. The Washington Post, Powell Wary of Iraq Moves,
December 21, 2001.
25 England, Andrew. Associated Press. Top U.S. Military Officials Links Somalia to bin
Laden’s Al-Qaeda, December 21, 2001.

United States and its European allies “have increased military reconnaissance flights
and other surveillance activities in Somalia.” 26
Regional Actors and Concern Over Terrorism.
Ethiopia. Over the years, Al-Ittihad’s principal target has been the government
of Ethiopia. Ethiopian officials have consistently accused Al-Ittihad of having links
with Middle Eastern terrorist organizations and have portrayed Al-Ittihad as a threat
to regional peace and stability. Al-Ittihad has carried out a number of terrorist attacks
against Ethiopian targets and Ethiopian security forces have violently retaliated
against the group and its supporters. The fighting with Al-Ittihad was triggered in the
early 1990s when Ethiopian security forces brutally cracked down on the Ogaden
National Liberation Front (ONLF), a member of the first transitional government of
Ethiopia. The ONLF joined the transitional government of Ethiopia in part because
the Transitional Charter provided nations and nationalities the right to self
determination. The ONLF push for self determination created tension between the
ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and the ONLF.
In the early 1990s, Ethiopian security forces assassinated a number of ONLF leaders,
cracked down on the organization, and moved the Ethiopian Somali Region capital
from Gode to Jijiga, a central government stronghold. Members of the ONLF fled to
Somalia and joined Al-Ittihad, a fairly new group at that time. Hence, some observers
view Al-Ittihad as a group largely concerned with domestic issues, although some
within the leadership might have links with outside groups.
Ethiopia’s principal interest appears to be to ensure that a united Somalia does
not pose a threat to Ethiopia and that the Somali-inhibited-region of Ethiopia remains
stable. Successive Ethiopian governments had to deal with Somali irredentism. In the
late 1970s, Somali rebels backed by the Siad Barre government overran Ethiopian
forces and captured large swath of territory. Ethiopian forces ejected the Somali
forces with the help of troops from Cuba and Yemen. In the 1980s, Ethiopian dictator
Mengistu began to arm and train Somali dissidents. Several Somali groups were
created with the help of Ethiopian military and intelligence and were given training
camps inside Ethiopia. The Barre government in Somalia, on the other hand, provided
financial and political support to Ethiopian opposition groups, including to the current
ruling party, the EPRDF. Somali rebels succeeded in 1991 in ousting the Barre
regime, while the EPRDF forces overthrew the Mengistu regime in May 1991.
Some of the armed factions in Somalia today are the same ones that were allied
with the Mengistu regime in the 1980s. It did not take long, however, for the
EPRDF-led government and some of the factions to forge a new alliance. Ethiopia
was an active participant in efforts to bring an end to the civil war in Somalia in the
mid-1990s. Ethiopia organized a number of peace conferences over the years, but
none succeeded in bringing an end to factional fighting. In recent years, however,
Ethiopia has contributed to the unrest in Somalia, supplying warlords with arms and
at times sending its troops in Somalia to fight faction leaders. Ethiopia appears
determined to establish a friendly, proxy government in Mogadishu. Al-Ittihad is seen

26Ricks, Thomas. The Washington Post, Allies Step Up Somalia Watch; U.S. Aims to Keep
Al Qaeda at Bay, January 4, 2002.

as a major obstacle in achieving that objective. Regional actors such as Kenya and
Djibouti express fear that Ethiopia’s military activities and support for warlords may
cause an increase in regional instability, and may lead to more refugees fleeing to
neighboring countries.
Ethiopian officials by contrast point to Al-Ittihad and the transitional national
government as a threat to Ethiopia and regional stability. Since the war with Eritrea
in 1998, Ethiopia’s interest in ensuring stability and eliminating potential threats
coming from Somalia has increased, in part because of concerns of fighting two wars
simultaneously. If the perceived threat from Somalia and the Somali region is not
dealt with decisively, Ethiopia could be forced to maintain robust forces in both the
north and the south-east. But a friendly government in Mogadishu or Hargeisa could
relieve Ethiopia of the burden of maintaining a large force along the Somali border,
saving Ethiopia scarce resources and helping concentrate its forces along the Eritrea
border. Ethiopian officials are also concerned about alliances being formed between
Somali groups and non-Somali Ethiopian opposition groups.
Kenya. The government of President Moi has been actively engaged in peace
efforts in Somalia since the early 1990s. Kenya has a large Somali population and is
home to tens of thousands of Somali refugees. Kenya has organized numerous peace
conferences over the years and the most recent in December 2001. Kenyan officials
are concerned that continued instability in Somalia could lead to region-wide
instability. In July 2001, Kenyan officials closed the border with Somalia because of
illegal arms smuggling into Kenya. The presence of large numbers of Somali refugees
has also drained resources. But Kenya’s efforts have been frustrated by other regional
initiatives. Kenya’s objective seems to be the formation of an all inclusive Somali
government. But efforts to bring together the transitional national government and
the pro-Ethiopia SRRC have not succeeded.
Djibouti. The government of President Ismail Omar Gelleh has also been active
in peace efforts in Somalia. The small Horn of Africa country, a former French
colony, hosted the Arta conference in 2000 that led to the formation of the transitional
national government in Mogadishu. The Arta conference had the support of the
OAU, U.N., EU, and the Arab League. Initially, Ethiopia supported the Arta
conference in part because Djibouti sided with Ethiopia during the Ethiopia-Eritrea
conflict. The transitional national government began to experience problems when
Ethiopia organized a conference of anti-transitional national government factions.
That conference led to the creation of the Somali Reconciliation and Restoration
Council. In March 2001, in a letter to the President of the Security Council,
transitional national government officials accused Ethiopia of interference in the
internal affairs of Somalia.27 Ethiopia rejected the accusations by the transitional
national government. Observers had dubbed the Arta conference as one of the most
effective efforts since the United Nations left Somalia in 1995. But critics of Arta
argue that the Djibouti conference excluded key players and is dominated by political
factions from Mogadishu.

27Report of the Secretary General on the Situation in Somalia. United Nations Security
Council, S/2001/963.

Somalia: U.S. Concerns and Policy Options
In late September, the Bush Administration added Al-Ittihad to a list of
terrorism-related entities whose assets were ordered frozen by a presidential
Executive Order. Bush Administration officials accused Al-Ittihad of links with Al-
Qaeda. The Administration did not offer evidence to prove its allegations, but some
officials asserted that links between the two organizations dated back to the U.S.
presence in Somalia during Operation Restore Hope (1992-1994). According to a
Washington Post article, “an interagency working group involving analysts from the
State Department, Pentagon, CIA, and the National Security Council has been
meeting for the past three weeks to discuss where and how Al-Qaeda operates in the
East Africa country.” 28 Some observers are skeptical that Al-Ittihad is an
international terrorist organization or that there is a strong link between Al-Qaeda and
Al-Ittihad. They argue that there are no credible reports that Al-Ittihad ever targeted
U.S. interests in Somalia or Africa. Some observers assert that Al-Ittihad does not
have a regional reach let alone a global reach. Moreover, some Somalis credit Al-
Ittihad for its social services and for restoring law and order in areas where it has
maintained presence.
The focus on Somalia and Somali groups is expanding in Washington,
nonetheless. In early November 2001, federal authorities raided several Somali-
owned money transfer businesses in the U.S. operated by Al-Barakaat Companies.
The Bush Administration ordered the assets of al-Barakaat frozen because of its
alleged links to Al-Qaeda. Al-Barakaat was reportedly founded in 1989 by a Somali
banker and currently has several dozen affiliates in Somalia, Africa, Middle East, and
North America. After the collapse of the central government in Somalia in 1991, the
banking system crumpled. As a result, al-Barakaat and other small companies became
key players in the money transfer business and for other financial transactions for
many Somalis inside Somalia and overseas.
In early December American officials reportedly visited Baidoa, Somalia and met
with faction leaders and Ethiopian military officers.29 The purpose of the one-day visit
was not acknowledged by Washington, but reporters in the region stated that these
officials asked about terrorist networks in Somalia. Bush Administration officials have
repeatedly stated that Somalia supports terrorism and that Al-Qaeda has used Somalia
as a base of operations to attack U.S. targets. Bush Administration officials are
concerned that Al-Qaeda members may flee to Somalia from Afghanistan. According
to Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Walter Kansteiner, Washington has three
policy objectives. First, the United States will work with neighboring countries to
make Somalia “inhospitable” to terrorist groups. Second, the United States will
ensure that any activities in Somalia would not affect its neighboring countries. Third,
the United States will work toward a lasting peace and economic development in

28Ottaway, David and Thomas Ricks. The Washington Post. Somalia Draws Anti-Terrorist
Focus, November 4, 2001.
29Vick, Karl. The Washington Post. Team in Somalia May be Planning U.S. Strikes,
December 11, 2001.

U.S. officials have not yet presented evidence linking Al-Ittihad and the
transitional national government with Al-Qaeda. In the absence of a central
government and with numerous armed groups scattered throughout the country, it
would be difficult to hold anyone accountable for past deeds or current activities. Al-
Ittihad is the only Somali group identified by the Bush Administration as a terrorist
organization. But Al-Ittihad does not control a single administrative area in Somalia
and does not have fixed assets that Washington could go after. Nonetheless, the
United States has several options to consider. Washington could seek to apprehend
individuals in Somalia suspected of terrorist activities and bring them to justice.
Another option is to infiltrate Somali groups suspected of terrorist links in order to
monitor, disrupt, and dismantle terrorist networks.
A long-term and a potentially complicated policy option, in the view of some
analysts, is to address the root causes of the problem. A stable Somalia under a
democratic authority is perhaps the only guarantee of a terrorist-free Somalia. But
establishing a representative government is a major undertaking. Some observers are
convinced, however, that after ten years of instability and bloodshed, Somalis might
be ready to resolve their differences with the help of the international community.
Another contributing factor to the problem in Somalia has been the interference of
regional actors in Somalia, driven largely by their own national interests. The United
States can play a pivotal role in forging a strong regional alliance that can play a
constructive role in bringing about an end to the instability in Somalia.
Simply monitoring events in Somalia is also a policy option, but some see this
cautious approach as one that would allow the terrorist threat to increase. On the
other hand, a heavy handed approach in the absence of clear evidence could be seen
as targeting a weak and defenseless country. U.S. military measures could also be
seen as settling old scores. Some Somalis believe that they will be targeted by the
U.S. not for terrorism, but rather to avenge the killings of the 18 U.S. Rangers killed
in battle in Mogadishu in 1993. Many observers contend that Somalia may be a
safehaven for Somali warlords, but not for foreign terrorists. Somalis are notoriously
independent; foreign terrorist groups would have a difficult time establishing a strong
presence in Somalia because, experts contend, it is difficult to hide in Somalia due to
the non-secretive nature of Somali society. Somali experts further believe that, even
if a foreign terrorist organization manages to establish a presence, the group is likely
to be betrayed by potential allies because there are no permanent loyalties in the
Somalia of today.

The African Diamond Trade and Links to
Al-Qaeda and Hizballah30
Recent press accounts, notably a November 2001 Washington Post article, assert
that the resale of diamonds purchased from African rebel movements has been used
to fund terrorist networks. The Washington Post article, attributing its facts to “U.S.
and European intelligence officials” alleges that “diamond dealers working directly
with men named by the FBI as key operatives in bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda network,” as
well as Hizballah representatives, have purchased diamonds from members of the
Sierra Leone Revolutionary United Front (RUF).31 The Post account also ties sales
of RUF diamonds to funding of the southern Lebanese Hizballah militia movement,
and notes that a minority of diamond traders in the Lebanese diaspora in Africa have
long been believed to be involved in such activities. Other press accounts have
reiterated this assertion, and have tied similar activities in Angola to the funding of
the Lebanese Amal militia.32
The RUF, which has been named as a terrorist group by the U.S. State
Department and is infamous for waging a brutal war against the government of Sierra
Leone, has agreed to disarm and participate in scheduled elections.33 Following the
publication of the Post story, RUF officials denied having any links with Al-Qaeda or
selling diamonds to the organization, but have reportedly acknowledged that such
sales could have taken place without their knowledge. Omrie Golley, an RUF official
who chairs the Sierra Leone Political and Peace Council, reportedly stated that a panel
would be established to investigate the reports.34 Recent press reports suggest,
however, that extensive diamond mining activities in the diamond-rich Eastern
Province of Sierra Leone – where disarmament has not been completed and where the
Sierra Leone police and UNAMSIL peacekeepers reportedly have only a skeletal
presence – are occurring. Some observers have questioned where newly mined

30Section on diamonds by Nicolas Cook, analyst in African affairs.
31See Douglas Farah, “Al Qaeda Cash Tied to Diamond Trade Sale of Gems From Sierra
Leone Rebels Raised Millions, Sources Say,” Washington Post, November 2, 2001, page A1.
32See Reuters, “Al Qaeda could be smuggling African diamonds - Expert,” November 5,

2001; Panafrican News Agency, “Belgium Accused Continuing Sale of Unita Diamonds,”

April 24, 2001; and Agence France Presse, “Belgian diamond traders dealing with Angolan
rebels: press,” April 23, 2001. On Al Qaeda, see CRS Terrorism Briefing Book EBTER131,
Al Qaeda and CRS Report RL30588, Afghanistan: Current Issues and U.S. Policy
Concerns. On Hizballah, see CRS Issue Brief IB93033, Iran: Current Developments and
U.S. Policy; Issue Brief and CRS Report RL30713, The Current Palestinian Uprising:
Al-aqsa Intifadah.
33See U.S. State Department, Patterns of Global Terrorism 2000, available on the State
Department's web site at []. See also CRS Report
RL30751, Diamonds and Conflict: Policy Proposals and Background and CRS Report
RL31062, Sierra Leone: a Tentative Peace?
34 See: IRIN News, “Sierra Leone: RUF denies terrorist links,” November 5, 2001; VOA
News, “Reports Say Sierra Leone Diamonds Funding Al-Qaida,” November 3, 2001; and
Caroline Hooper-Box and wire services, “Bin Laden link with War Gems Shocks De Beers,”
Sunday Independent (SA),” November 4, 2001.

diamonds are being sold, by whom they are being sold, and to whom such profits are
accruing. The Washington Post account suggests that this heightened activity may
be in direct response to a request by Al-Qaeda buyers, although the story also implies
that RUF leaders may not have known the identity or affiliation of the diamond
dealers who are alleged to have purchased RUF gems.
Alleged Al-Qaeda/RUF Relationship35
Diamonds are said to have been smuggled into Liberia from Sierra Leone by
“senior RUF commanders,” and are then said to have been purchased by Al- Qaeda-
affiliated dealers in transactions arranged by Ibrahim Bah. The dealers reportedly flew
between Belgium and Monrovia several times monthly to make purchases, which were
reportedly undertaken in premises safeguarded by Liberian government security
forces. In Monrovia the dealers “are escorted by special [Liberian] state security
through customs and immigration control.” According to the Washington Post, Bah
is a former member of the separatist Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance
(MFDC) in Senegal, his birthplace. He is said to have later trained in Libya under the
patronage of Libyan leader Muammar al-Qadhafi, to have fought as a “mujahedin” in
Afghanistan against Soviet forces in the early 1980s, and is said to have close ties to
President Taylor of Liberia and RUF founder Fodey Sankoh.
Ibrahim Bah, a key RUF official who was the subject of a recent report by a
panel of experts investigating compliance with U.N. Security Council resolution 1343
(2001) concerning Liberia, S/2001/1015, is reported to have had primary
responsibilities for marketing RUF diamonds. He is also reported to have been a key
middleman in transactions between the RUF and diamond buyers associated with the
Al-Qaeda and Hizballah organizations.
Beginning in September 1998, Al-Qaeda buyers were reportedly able to purchase
diamonds at sub-market prices and sell them in Europe at a steep profit worth several36
– perhaps tens – of millions of dollars. Since mid-2001, however, the Post reports
that top prices have been paid by the Al-Qaeda operatives, possibly with the
expectation that the organization’s business or bank accounts could be frozen
following the September 11 attack. The heightened transaction activity could also
indicate an increased need to launder funds from a variety of sources – possibly
including other illicit dealings, such as drug sales – and to transfer their value into the
fungible, the concentrated form of value that diamonds represent.
In late December 2001, the Washington Post reported that some of the same
diamond traders alleged to have arranged the sale of Sierra Leonean diamonds to Al-
Qaeda operatives were also active in the diamond trade of the Democratic Republic

35The following account summarizes the Washington Post, “Al Qaeda Cash Tied to Diamond
Trade,” and draws from the report of the U.N. panel of experts monitoring implementation
of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1343 (2001) concerning Liberia, S/2001/1015.
36No precise figure is known. The volume of RUF trade, generally, is difficult to ascertain,
because no independent monitoring of diamond mining in areas of eastern Sierra Leone
controlled by the RUF has been undertaken, and because RUF sales are, by their nature,

of the Congo (DRC), although the traders named in the story deny any link between
their businesses and Al Qaeda.37 The story contained further allegations, made by
American and European officials investigating the financing of Al-Qaeda and other
terrorist operations, that the sale of Congolese diamonds is – and has long been – tied
to the funding of Hizballah and other radical Islamic groups. The Washington Post
account described how armed conflict, corruption, and lack of state regulatory
capacity in the DRC – a vast country about the size of the United States east of the
Mississippi – have allowed the illicit export of millions of dollars worth of Congolese
diamonds to major diamond trading centers, such as Antwerp, Belgium, and to
secondary diamond trading centers, such as Dubai, Mauritius, and India. U.S. and
European investigations are also focusing on the association between the financing of
radical Islamic groups and trade in other high-value Congolese commodities, like
gold, uranium, and non-diamond gem stones, according to the report.
Threats in Other Countries38
South Africa
In South Africa, People Against Gangsterism and Drugs (PAGAD), a Muslim
group, is suspected in a number of bombings and other violent incidents in the Cape
Town area, including the August 1998 bombing of a Planet Hollywood restaurant,
part of a U.S. chain. The potential for Islamic fundamentalism in South Africa
generally would appear to be limited, since only 2% of the population is Muslim.
However, the Muslim community around Cape Town is quite large. Khalfan Khamis
Mohamed, a Tanzanian later convicted in the bombing of the U.S. embassy in Dar es
Salaam, reportedly sought to hide among Cape Town’s Muslims after he fled
Tanzania, but was arrested by South African authorities and deported to the United
States. The Department of State’s 1999 and 2000 reports on patterns of global
terrorism mention a militant group known as Qibla as associated with PAGAD. The
word “Qibla” is a reference to the direction in which Mecca lies.
In Nigeria, where sectarian tensions have risen after the decision of 12 northern
states to establish Shari’a legal systems, hundreds of people have reportedly been
killed in recent Muslim-Christian violence in the central city of Jos and in Kaduna in
northern Nigeria. This follows similar violence in the northern state of Bauchi in July,
and extensive religious unrest in Kaduna in 2000. Overall, an estimated 7,000 have39
reportedly died in religious violence over the past two years. Available accounts do
not indicate that outside radical Islamic organizations are inciting sectarian violence
within Nigeria, although some reports do suggest that Nigerian Islamic militants in Jos

37See Douglas Farah, “Digging Up Congo’s Dirty Gems; Officials Say Diamond Trade Funds
Radical Islamic Groups,” Washington Post, December 30, 2001, A1.
38 Section prepared by Raymond Copson, Specialist in International Relations.
39Chris McGreal, “Militants Wrestle for the Soul of Nigeria,” The Guardian, September 15,


and Kaduna have drawn inspiration from the attacks on the World Trade Center and
the Pentagon.40 Demonstrations in support of the attacks, organized by the Islamic
Youth Organization, were reported in Zamfara state, a center of the Nigerian Islamist41
movement. An estimated 50% of Nigeria’s 120 million people are Muslim, while

40% are Christian.

Radical/Terrorist Groups in Africa and U.S. Policy
The number of radical or terrorist groups in Africa has steadily increased since
1995, according to the State Department’s Patterns of Global Terrorism report for
2000. As a result, the number of incidents characterized as terrorist attacks has risen
sharply over the past several years. According to the State Department, dozens of
terrorist attacks took place in nine sub-Saharan African countries in 2000. Most of
these attacks were carried out by rebel movements fighting central authority. UNITA
rebels were accused of attacking World Food Program (WFP) convoys in northern
Angola in May 2000. In Sierra Leone, members of the Revolutionary United Front
(RUF) killed five United Nations peacekeepers and kidnaped 500, most of whom
were later released. The RUF was also blamed for the killing of two foreign
journalists, including one American in May 2000.
The Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 directed the State
Department to designate Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO). Once an
organization is designated as FTO by the State Department, members of the group
are not allowed into the United States, assets are blocked, and U.S. citizens are
prohibited from giving it funds or other material support. The designation of
organizations is made every two years by the Secretary of State. According to the
State Department, there are three criteria for designation: (1) the group must be
foreign; (2) the group must engage in terrorist activity; and (3) the group’s actions
must be aimed at U.S. interests. In October 1999, then Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright designated 28 organizations as FTO. Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda was the
only new addition, while the twenty seven other organizations were re-designated.
Under a second terrorist related category designated by the Secretary of State, three
African groups are listed: Army for the Liberation of Rwanda (ALIR), the
Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in Sierra Leone, and the People Against
Gangsterism and Drugs (PAGAD) in South Africa.42
U.S.-Africa Intelligence Cooperation
Until the end of the Cold War, the United States had an active intelligence
presence in many parts of Africa, especially in Cold War-driven conflict countries, and
in major African powers, such as South Africa and Nigeria. Security cooperation

40“Obasanjo Demands End to Strife,” BBC report, September 16, 2001; “Nigeria Pledges to
Curb Religious Strife,” September 13, 2001.
41Daniel Pipes, “A Middle East Party,” Jerusalem Post, September 14, 2001.
42For more see the Department of State website at []

between the United States and its allies in Africa was considered good. In the 1960s,
the United States actively monitored the activities of pro-Soviet liberation movements
and left-leaning political leaders, including Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and Patrice
Lumumba of Congo. A Senate investigation implicated the Central Intelligence
Agency (CIA) in planning the assassination of Lumumba, although recent research
indicates that Belgians and Congolese were directly responsible for killing the
Congolese leader. In the 1970s and 1980s, the United States provided covert aid to
rebel groups in Angola to counter Soviet influence. After the end of the Cold War,
the United States sharply reduced its intelligence presence in sub-Saharan Africa by
closing more than a dozen stations considered non-essential to U.S. interests (The
Washington Post, June 23, 1994).
The cuts in U.S. intelligence presence in sub-Saharan Africa, some believe, may
have inhibited Washington’s ability to predict events in Africa. The United States was
reportedly ill prepared when President George H.W. Bush decided to deploy U.S.
troops to Somalia in December 1992. The CIA did not have a presence in Somalia
in the early 1990s and U.S. intelligence officials were said to be reluctant to get
involved in the Somalia situation (The Washington Post, February 27, 2000). U.S.
intelligence officials were successful in capturing Somali faction leaders, but failed to
capture their primary target, General Aideed. The U.S. intelligence community did
not predict the Rwandan genocide in 1994. In 1996, U.S. intelligence officials had
only limited knowledge of the Rwandan-led invasion of Congo and failed to predict
the downfall of the Mobutu regime. In August 1998, U.S. officials only had limited
knowledge of the situation when Rwanda invaded Congo for the second time. U.S.
officials were informed after the fact by Rwandese officials of the Congo invasion.
In Sudan, until the closing of the U.S. embassy in 1996, the United States was
able to monitor the activities of radical and terrorist groups based in Sudan. But U.S.
ability to monitor the activities of these groups did not lead to a reduction in the
growth of radical and terrorist groups in Sudan. The primary suspect in the U.S.
embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, and the September 11 attacks on New
York and Washington, Osama bin Laden, was able to recruit, train, and establish a
terrorist network during his five year (1991-1996) stay in Sudan. According to recent
press reports, Al-Qaeda’s activities have expanded to a number of African countries,
including Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Eritrea. According to
press reports, U.S. intelligence officials were able to prevent a number of terrorist
attacks aimed against the United States in Africa, although the inability to prevent the
bombings of the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania was seen by some observers as a
major intelligence failure.
Since the bombings of the U.S. embassies, security cooperation between some
African governments and the United States has expanded. In October, 2001, a senior
FBI official told a gathering of African officials and observers that without the support
and cooperation of the security services in Kenya, Tanzania, and other African
countries, the United States would not have been able to identify and arrest the
terrorist suspects. In the wake of the renewed focus on Somalia, cooperation
between Ethiopia and the United States could expand, since Ethiopia has been
fighting against Al-Ittihad for the past several years. President Obasanjo of Nigeria
has pledged to support the U.S. effort and U.S. officials expect expanded cooperation
with Nigeria.