So­ma­lian sus­pect

The Washington Times Weekly - - National -

The United States thinks an air strike Jan. 8 in south­ern So­ma­lia may have wounded an al Qaeda-trained leader of the most vi­o­lent mili­tia that helped seize the cap­i­tal, Mo­gadishu, ear­lier this year.

De­fenses sources said Aden Hashi Ayro, who led the Hizbul Shabaab, a vi­o­lent army of young Is­lamists within the So­ma­lian Is­lamic Courts Union, “is thought to have been wounded.” The Is­lamic Courts Union cap­tured the cap­i­tal last year, but a com­bined Ethiopian-So­ma­lian gov­ern­ment force routed the Is­lamists last month and re­gained Mo­gadishu.

The sources said the United States ob­tained bloody clothes at the scene where five to 10 al Qaeda-linked sus­pects were killed.

The sources de­clined to say how the cloth­ing was ob­tained, but one source said U.S. com­man­dos were op­er­at­ing in So­ma­lia.

Ayro is no small fish. He was trained in one of Osama bin Laden’s ter­ror camps in Afghanistan be­fore the 2001 U.S.-led in­va­sion to top­ple the hard-line Tal­iban regime. He op­er­ated with al Qaeda mem­bers in So­ma­lia and was thought to have as­so­ci­ated with the three main tar­gets of Mon­day’s at­tack: Fazul Ab­dul­lah Mo­hammed, Saleh Ali Saleh Nab­han and Abu Taha al-Sudani.

Mo­hammed and Nab­han are wanted by the United States on sus­pi­cion of plan­ning and car­ry­ing out the 1998 bomb­ings of two U.S. em­bassies in East Africa. Al­Su­dani is an ex­plo­sives spe­cial­ist sus­pected of ties to al Qaeda.

Ayro was quickly mov­ing up the chain of com­mand among Is­lamists in So­ma­lia. The United States viewed him as per­haps the fu­ture leader of al Qaeda in the re­gion, a post held by Mo­hammed.

A U.S. of­fi­cial in Nairobi told re­porters Jan. 11 that none of the top three tar­gets was killed.

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