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U.S Military Personnel Arrested in Kenya and his connection to Al Shabaab!

Interesting Article: "Craig Baxam, ex-Army intelligence expert, nabbed in bid to join Al Qaeda affilliate in Somalia: feds" by Joseph Straw / New York published Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

An interesting article mentioned that an ex-Army intelligence specialist was caught heading to Somalia to fight and die there with Al Qaeda's regional affiliate, investigators charge. Craig Baxam, 24, left the military in July and immediately converted to a strict, violent interpretation of Islam, he told the FBI. The Laurel, Maryland native was caught late last month on a bus in Kenya "looking for dying with a gun in my hand," according to his arrest affidavit. Baxam is the latest American to seek out the radical group Al Shabaab in Somalia's decades-long civil war, which has drawn in U.S. special operations forces, plus neighbors Kenya and Ethiopia. What is Al Shabaab up to recently?

Last year an investigation by staff on the House Homeland Security Committee, led by Chairman Pete King (R-L.I.), found that at least 40 Americans had traveled to join Al Shabaab, many from Minnesota's Somali-American community. More than half were unaccounted for, and thus posed a high risk of returning home to wage jihad here, King argued. Kenyan police picked up Baxam December 23, he said, after a man he spoke to likely alerted police. FBI agents posted to Nairobi questioned him. A recent video message posted to a jihadist website calls on Muslim youths in Kenya to join the Somali militant group al-Shabab in its fight against Kenyan forces.  While the message is typical of the group's propaganda, the language is not. In a 50-minute video sermon, a man in a camouflage military jacket reads from the Quran and calls on Kenyans to join al-Shabab's jihadist campaign. What is striking about the message is that the man, identified as Ahmed Iman Ali, speaks in Swahili, not in Somali, as is typical of the group. A report released in July from the United Nations monitoring group for Somalia and Eritrea identifies Ali as the head of the Muslim Youth Center, an organization in Nairobi that recruits and trains impoverished youths to join al-Shabab. Somali analyst Abdi Samad, of Nairobi-based Southlink Consultants, says Ali represents a relatively new strategy that the al-Qaida-linked militant group has taken. “That's a clear indication of how al-Shabab is going to penetrate inside East Africa," said the analyst.  "And, in fact, they are getting recruitment from Tanzania, Kenya and as well as Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda.  So, basically, now they have friends inside the East Africa community as a whole.” “Three years ago, four years ago we didn't have a Swahili preacher who can easily reach out to the population.  Now we have it.  What will we expect tomorrow?  Tomorrow we are expecting the worst. That's how things are,” said Samad. Al-Shabab has always sought to recruit foreign fighters, including British and American citizens. Kenyan forces in October launched military raids on southern Somalia following a string of high-profile kidnappings attributed to al-Shabaab, al-Qaida's affiliate in the region. Kenya's military fought a clash with al-Shabaab fighters in southern Somalia on Tuesday, and Kenyan police said they had placed several people under surveillance to prevent attacks at home linked to the Somali insurgents. Kenyan troops crossed into Somalia in October after a wave of kidnappings and cross-border raids which Nairobi blamed on the Islamist rebels, who control large swathes of southern Somalia and are battling a weak Western-backed government. Al Shabaab has also been involved in a string of kidnappings recently. According to a Somalia Report website, two Spanish aid workers abducted in Kenya last year have been sold to a pirate gang by Al Shabaab militants. According to the Somalia Report, the pirates paid $100,000 for each woman, and they are now being held in the pirate town of Harardhere along with other hostages, possibly including American aid worker Jessica Buchanan, who was kidnapped from Galkayo in October while working for the Danish Demining Group. Kenya has been on edge very early on this year, security bulletins warn of an impending assault by terrorists and security in Kenya's capital have been increased to reflect the threat. Foreign and Commonwealth Office warned of potential terrorist attacks in Nairobi and said it believes terrorists may be in the final stages of planning attacks in the capital. In a post on its website it said: "Attacks could be indiscriminate and target Kenyan institutions as well as places where expatriates and foreign travelers gather, such as hotels, shopping centers and beaches. We strongly advise British nationals to exercise extra vigilance and caution in public places and at public events." I think the situation now is that the geographic location is irrelevant: if al-Qaeda are assisting al-Shabaab then it is a matter of time before countries like Kenya are in a constant state of fear in the African region.



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