“THE WHOLE OF AFRICA WILL GO UP IN FLAMES”: THE TALIBAN LOOK AT U.S. DESIGNS ON AFRICAN ENERGY RESOURCES
Afghanistan’s Taliban movement turned their attention to the U.S. role in Somalia and elsewhere in Africa in an article published in the latest issue of the Taliban’s Arabic-language magazine, al-Sumud (Media Center of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan-Taliban, June 27).
The article, entitled “Somalia: Next Target for the Global Tyrant, the United States of America,” focused on the alleged neo-colonial ambitions of the United States, especially in respect to the consolidation and exploitation of African energy resources. The author, using the name Anwar, maintains that God provided Muslims ample blessings in the form of natural resources, but Muslim inattentiveness and inability to benefit from these resources has allowed “the cunning enemy” to take advantage of them. “This is indeed an unforgiveable crime committed by the Muslims against themselves!”
The author accuses America of seeking to create chaos and insecurity in Africa as the first step in controlling Africa’s resources. Somalia is their “first and most important target.” Despite its lack of confirmed oil or gas reserves, the author describes Somalia as “a country rich with oil wells.” There is some energy exploration ongoing off the coast of northern Somalia’s semi-autonomous province of Puntland, but the main player in this effort is Range Resources, an Australian rather than American company.
Citing unnamed Russian analysts who “stated that the United States has prepared a plan for a long war in Africa,” the author claims American concerns over piracy in Somalia are nothing more than an excuse to justify an eventual military occupation of Somalia, arguing “In fact, the United States is seeking to find a situation that justifies the necessity of deploying its soldiers in Africa. Therefore, Somalia, Sudan, and Libya will submit to the U.S. power, especially since these three Islamic countries are rich in high quantities of natural resources and minerals, as indicated by recent studies.” American support for Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) as led by veteran Islamist Shaykh Sharif Shaykh Ahmad is described as the result of Washington’s “need for a supportive or agent government to facilitate its seizure of natural resources like minerals and [oil] wells.”
The article clearly supports Somalia’s extremist Mujahideen Youth Movement (better known as al-Shabaab) in its efforts to take control of Somalia. In an oblique reference to Western criticism of the amputations, beatings and executions carried out by al-Shabaab’s ad-hoc Islamic courts, the author suggests “the United States sometimes accuses the Shari'a courts of violating human rights and being careless about them” as part of its effort to dominate Somalia.
The Taliban examination of American policies in Africa concludes by predicting a U.S. colonial expansion in Africa that will not be restricted to Somalia alone. “When war breaks out, the whole of Africa will go up in flames, especially Sudan and Libya.”
IRAN CLAIMS CONFESSIONS REVEAL JONDOLLAH’S LEADER IS AN AMERICAN AGENT
As tensions continue to mount between Iran and the United States over Iran’s disputed presidential election, its nuclear program and Vice President Joe Biden’s apparent go-ahead for Israeli strikes on Iran (since refuted by President Obama), authorities in Tehran continue to insist the insurgency and various terrorist attacks in Iran’s Sistan and Balochistan province are inspired and funded by the United States. On June 29, a provincial prosecutor announced that 13 members of the Sunni Muslim and ethnic-Balochi Jondollah insurgent group had confessed that their leader, Abdolmalek Rigi, was an agent of the United States and Israel (Vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran Sistan-Balochistan Provincial TV, June 29; Khorasan, July 2). Sistan and Balochistan is Iran’s poorest and most underdeveloped province. Its eastern border divides it from Pakistan’s Balochistan province, similarly underdeveloped and also home to a Balochi insurgency.
Abdolmalek’s brother, Abdolhamid, was extradited from Pakistan during the presidency of Pervez Musharraf and tried by Iranian authorities on charges of terrorism, kidnapping and murder. He was reported to have been executed in the provincial capital of Zahedan on June 6, but Iranian authorities later stated Abdolhamid was alive and there had been some confusion when a condemned man with the same name was hanged on that date (Press TV, June 10). Reza Qalandarzehi, a Jondollah member extradited from Pakistan along with Abdulhamid, was hanged at the same time as the other prisoner after his conviction on terrorism charges (Fars News Agency, June 6).
In an interview with Iranian Press TV, Abdolhamid said his brother Abdolmalek had been in steady contact with U.S. FBI and CIA agents in Karachi and Islamabad. According to Abdolhamid, the Americans had initially been wary of Abdolmalek’s previous connections to al-Qaeda, but the Jondollah leader assured them he had no contact with al-Qaeda since 2002 and needed financial support only to fight Iran. Abdolhamid described a meeting in Islamabad where two female U.S. agents had offered weapons, training and bases in Afghanistan. The agents wanted to know how many recruits the Jondollah leaders could bring in for military training (Press TV, June 9; Tehran Times, June 10). A Jondollah statement claimed Abdolhamid’s confessions broadcast on Iran’s Press TV had been extracted through severe torture and prolonged solitary confinement (junbish.blogspot.com, June 8). On July 1, Abdolhamid repeated his allegations of American backing for Jondollah in a Zahedan courtroom.
In the last few years, the Pakistan-based Jondollah organization has claimed responsibility for a string of ambushes on Iranian security forces as well as a series of terrorist bombings, including the May 28 bombing of the Amir al-Mohini mosque in Zahedan that killed 25 people and another two explosions in Zahedan on June 9. A Jondollah spokesman claimed the bombing of the Shi’a mosque had targeted a secret meeting of Revolutionary Guards commanders (al-Arabiya TV, May 29; junbish.blogspot.com, June 10). Pakistan’s ambassador was summoned to the Iranian Foreign Ministry in Tehran two days after the mosque bombing (Xinhua, May 30). Three men arrested before the bombing on suspicion of terrorism were hanged in public the same day after reportedly admitting to providing explosives for the blast.
The Iranian Interior Minister, Sadeq Mahsuli, laid the blame for the mosque blast on the United States and Israel despite a strong denial of involvement from Washington (E’temad, June 5; Fars News Agency, May 30). Jondollah has not been placed on the U.S. list of designated terrorist organizations (Boston Globe, May 30).