British Muslims are traveling to Somalia for ‘jehadi tourism’ to get training for terrorist attacks in Britain, secret US diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks have revealed.
The UN Special Envoy to Somalia was so worried about rebels linked to the Al Qaeda that he urged the US to launch targeted strikes against extremists in the region, the Daily Telegraph reported Friday.
According to a cable of January 2010, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN Special Representative for Somalia, told US diplomats that the country was becoming ‘a terrorist incubator’.
“We are facing a very serious threat by people with money and organization,” he said, adding that a ‘high number’ of foreign fighters had joined the armed opposition, including American and British citizens.
“Stating that the threat is critical, Ould-Abdallah urged targeted operations on terrorists in Somalia,” the documents say.
But to the frustration of the Americans, Britain was slow to grasp the scale of the threat from Somalia, despite warnings that the largely lawless country was an ‘incubator’ for terrorism.
According to the daily, MI5, the British security agency, now believes jehadists from the al-Shabaab movement in Somalia represent a significant threat to Britain. Jonathan Evans, the director-general of MI5, publicly warned of the threat last year.
Al-Shabaab controls large parts of the lawless south and has been linked to Al Qaeda. Pakistan was previously regarded as the training ground of choice for British terrorists, the report said.
In a dispatch from the US embassy in Nairobi a month earlier, the Americans detailed British fears over the threat posed by Somalia.
Britain saw ‘a growing likelihood’ of attacks from radicalized British Somalis who had traveled to Somalia or Pakistan for ‘indoctrination and training’ and returned to commit acts of terrorism, the cable said.
“There is also believed to be a certain amount of so-called ‘jehadi tourism’ to southern Somalia by British citizens of Somali ethnicity,” the file said.
During 2008, US officials were becoming increasingly concerned at the failure of their British counterparts to grasp the scale of the problem, the report said.