Somalia: Foreign Fighters in Somalia Are 'International Criminals' - President
25 May 2009

The president of Somalia's interim government, Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, told a 
Monday press conference in the capital Mogadishu that foreign fighters in the 
Horn of Africa country are 'international criminals,' Radio Garowe reports.
"Somalia has been invaded by foreign fighters, who are using Somali factions 
and their objective is to keep the country in chaos and to hide international 
criminals," President Sheikh Sharif told reporters at the Villa Somalia 
presidential compound.
He called on the Somali public to stand by the government in order "to defend 
the freedom, honor and nationhood of Somalia," adding: "I do not see any reason 
to continue fighting except to oppose peace."
The Somali leader said the interim government has adopted Islamic law 
[Shari'ah] as national legislation and has accepted a reconciliation process 
promoted by Muslim scholars and traditional elders, "but the opposition has 
rejected reconciliation."
He condemned the foreign fighters, suggesting that these foreign fighters have 
fought in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq, "which are still burning."
Conflicting reports have placed the actual number of 'foreign fighters' present 
in Somalia from a handful to over 300 fighters.
"The [Somali] government has decided to defend the honor of the country and the 
people...we will fight those who oppose governance and those who promote 
chaos," President Sheikh Sharif said, in some of his most heated comments since 
being elected in January.
African peacekeepers
The Somali President said the ongoing violence in Mogadishu and parts of 
central Somalia is part of a "liberation war" against anti-peace elements.
He specifically addressed a recent decision by the Inter-Governmental Authority 
on Development (IGAD) to place sanctions on Eritrea, which is often accused 
arming Somali insurgents.
"It was the correct decision and the world must support it," said President 
Sheikh Sharif, who fled to Eritrea in 2007 after Ethiopian troops intervened in 
south-central Somalia to oust the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) movement, led by 
Sheikh Sharif at the time.
Speaking about the 4,000-strong African Union peacekeeping force (AMISOM), the 
President said: "AMISOM is here [in Mogadishu] legally and they will leave when 
they ensure the safety of the Somali people."
He noted that African peacekeepers are serving in Somalia "to help a fellow 
African country," while underscoring that AMISOM peacekeepers will defend the 
Somali government if attacked.
President Sheikh Sharif did not specifically name anti-government insurgent 
groups, namely Al Shabaab hardliners and Hizbul Islam faction, which is led by 
his former ally, Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys.
Al Shabaab and Hizbul Islam factions have waged a violent campaign in Mogadishu 
and the central regions aiming to overthrow President Sheikh Sharif's interim 
government, which has support from ICU fighters and Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jamee'a 
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Muslims "must" unite all over the World
and pray for the appearance of al Mahdi (r.a.) the Saviour of mankind
the descendent of Prophet Muhammed s.a.w.

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