America’s Lukewarm Concern for Al-Shebaab


the Rogue State of Eritrea



Adal Isaw

June 26, 2009


In few months to a year and if it continues as is, the now lukewarm concern of America for the emboldened terrorist endeavor of Al-Shebaab in Somalia will reshape President Obama’s foreign policy of the Horn for the worst.  Conversely, if Mr. Obama’s concern becomes passionate with substance, it will ameliorate the dreadful conditions in a region where relative stability is desperately needed.


The Horn of Africa has been the stage of choice for state and non state actors to play a role tailored to their own interest, and no entity knows how important the region is more so than the U.S.─a long time actor.  Nevertheless, America’s recent lukewarm concern in the face of considerable deterioration of Somalia, suggests either the existence of an inherently contradictory foreign policy of the U.S. or the dwindling of its resources to fight terror-seeking groups where ever they may be.


The entities that actively seed tension and bloodshed in the entire region are well known to America.  The evidence is present as daylight within the dossier of the US State Department either in classified or declassified forms. 


Either way, America knows that the one-man state of Eritrea is the uncontested front and center sponsor and destabilizing force within the Horn and beyond.  However, what America has done so far in light of this uncontested evidence is a far cry and compels one to ask if America’s lukewarm concern over Al-Shebaab─an affiliate of Al-Quaeda and the one-man state of Eritrea is the expression of an unknown secretive future plan.   


The U.S. could have implemented its anti-terror policy in the Horn of Africa with equal intensity as it does in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Then again, politically speaking, this may not be a feasible foreign policy undertaking.  After Mr. Obama took office, U.S. is in prioritizing mode giving detailed and overdue attention to Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Obama’s campaign pledge was to the point and it is Afghanistan and Pakistan where he wants to fight the fight primarily in hope of finding Bin Laden dead or alive.  For President Obama, the case of Bin Laden and those who are responsible for 9/11 killing spree takes precedent over Al-Shebaab—an associate of Al-Quaeda, which by virtue of vicinity is an immediate threat to the Horn rather than to America—and for which the Obama administration will suffer few political points if any in a short run.  Because, during Obama’s campaign, there were no strongly pointed promises made about ridding the Horn of its destabilizing forces of terror and there will be no promises broken as far as the administration is concerned.  Nevertheless, in the long run, Obama may still find himself on the hot seat if he fails to correct his lukewarm concern for Al-Shebaab’s terrorist endeavor in Somalia. 


For an administration whose primary job is to safeguard the American people from harm, a lukewarm concern to the recent emboldened Al-Shebaab terrorist endeavor is a costly mistake.  In its daily briefing for the entire month of June, U.S. State Department failed to talk about Somalia for even once.  Not only that, the State Department completely ignored the assassination of Omar Hashi Aden and Abdulkarim Farah Lakanyo as worthy of breaking news status on its website.  This is a borderline reckless foreign policy gesture and the Obama administration is sleeping on the wheel of what should have been a passionately and substantively-driven foreign policy vehicle.


The Obama administration is closing its eyes; it seems, not to see the potential of Al-Shebaab carrying a terrorist attack in the heartland.  As is, America is home to one of the largest Somali population outside Africa.  With a large émigré, it’s not that peculiar for some bad apples to show up.  Recently, scores of Somali men have disappeared from Minnesota─home for over seventy thousand Somali immigrants, and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation believes some of them went to Somalia to fight with Al-Shebaab.

 It’s public knowledge that many Somali youngsters from Minnesota have left to Somalia apparently after having been indoctrinated by Al-Quaeda or Al-shebaab or by both terrorist operatives.  The case of Burhan Hassan, a young Somali-American who was executed with a single bullet to his head after he opt-out from carrying a terrorist act on his own people, should have alarmed the Obama administration with a sense of urgency.  Had this young Somali made it back to Minnesota, he would have exposed those responsible for his indoctrination.  Obviously, he didn’t and those who are responsible for his indoctrination and recruitment are unfortunately roaming the streets of America unscathed.


Prior to Burhan Hassan’s case, in October 2009, Shirwa Ahmed, a Somali-American who had been radicalized by Al-Shebaab in his adopted home state of Minnesota, traveled to Somalia and blew himself up and twenty-nine others. The incident, the first-ever suicide bombing by a naturalized U.S. citizen, raised red flags throughout the U.S. intelligence community, and, it should have been a reason for the emergence of a passionate and substantive foreign policy of America toward the Horn in general and Somalia  in particular.


 Scores of Al-Quaeda and Al-Shebaab operatives known by American intelligentsia as sleeper cells are believed to be walking American streets.  The Obama administration for sure is giving sleeper cells the utmost attention and will do what it takes to uncover them.  By extension, in light of Al-Shebaab’s recent terror spree, the administration should also have to show a passionate and substantive involvement in the Horn of Africa, particularly in Somalia.  Al-Shebaab’s recent success may eventually trickle down to empower those who are posed to harm America and others. 



The lukewarm concern may be is the result of not having enough resources and or a matter of prioritizing.  With will, America can come up with the resources necessary to safeguard the lives of its citizenry.  It should be known that the question of prioritizing is dependent on how much one should allocate a resource to prevent a threat and the degree to which how exigent the threat is.  Al-Shebaab shouldn’t be overlooked either by classifying it as a second-tier terrorist organization or by not allocating the resources necessary to cripple its existence. 


Al-Shebaab’s threat is as exigent as any other known terrorist threat and now is the time for America to act resolutely.  President Obama’s foreign policy makers have all the evidence to plan a passionate and substantive measure against Al-Shebaab and its sponsor the one-man state of Eritrea.  The evidence for Eritrea’s sponsor role is abundant and a quick reference to BBC, Reuters, Los Angeles Times, Associated Press, UN, AU, and many other sources will reveal it.  In fact, the evidence has been told single-handedly by a super eyewitness Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweyes, a wanted terrorist and a confidant of Isayas Afewerki─the man that single-handedly is running Eritrea amuck. 


Until recently, Aweyes resided in Asmara, Eritrea, and he’s now in Somalia abetting Al-Shebaab to undercut the legitimacy and authority of the transitional government of Somalia with the full support of the one-man state of Eritrea.  The transitional government of Somalia has been asking the Eritrean rogue state not to intervene in its affairs, but to no avail.  The recent assassination of Omar Hashi Aden and Abdulkarim Farah Lakanyo by Al-Shebaab tells how the concerted effort of Eritrea, Awyes, and Al-Shebaab is busy neutralizing moderate forces in Somali to empower terror groups.


If the Obama administration continues on this path of lukewarm concern and allows Al-Shebaab and its abettor the rogue state of Eritrea too much breezing room, it will have a nightmarish foreign policy undertaking in its hand with regards to the Horn.  If left untouched with heavy hands, Al-Shebaab may get the chance to strike in America, thereby, making the Obama administration liable for failing to protect the homeland.  Liability may also cover especially the Congressional Democrats for failing to categorize the one-man state of Eritrea as terror sponsoring state, after knowing quite well that it’s the single most important sponsor of Al-Shebaab.  Furthermore, some Congressional Democrats, like Donald M Payne of New Jersey, may end up facing serious questioning for having a very close and cozy relationship with terror sponsoring rogue state of Eritrea.  To avoid this possible fallout, Obama’s foreign policy makers should advice the President to replace his lukewarm concern with passionate and substantive involvement in Somalia.