Intelligence sources tell us several Americans — or at least people holding U.S. passports — were captured among the 6,000 Islamists fighting on behalf of the ousted Islamic Courts Union (ICU) during the ongoing conflict in Somalia.
The American passport holders are being held and interrogated in Kenya. According to our sources, one of the American Islamists had received pilot training in the past, an indication that he may be a terrorist who could be used in a future al Qaeda operation to hijack an aircraft and use it as a missile, as occurred during the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
The recent fighting by Ethiopian and transitional federal government forces against the partially ruling ICU forced thousands of Islamist fighters of the ICU to move south to Kismayo and Ras Kamboni, on the Kenyan border.
Army Lt. Gen. Michael Maples, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told the Senate intelligence committee in written testimony two weeks ago that Ethiopian forces were in hot pursuit of the Islamists.
“Ethiopia likely intends to eliminate as many of the radical Islamists and their camps as possible before withdrawing,” Gen. Maples said.
He said “multiple reports” from the region indicate “the presence of foreign trainers in Somalia from Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Arabian Peninsula.”
“Al Qaeda is assessed to be assisting the radical Islamist elements of the [ICU] with leadership and training with hopes of establishing a future Talibanlike state,” he said.