Al-Qaeda's No. 2 urged Somalia's Islamic militants on Friday to step up their attacks using Iraqi-style guerrilla warfare against government and Ethiopian forces in the first recorded message from the terror group this year.
Experts say the audiotape, posted on an Islamist website Friday, and other recent recordings indicate that al-Qaeda is intensifying its focus on the Horn of Africa where the terror network has a long history of operations.
For those that think this war is still all about capturing bin-Laden, please note that his followers are quite capable of carrying on without his support, moral or otherwise.
What will be interesting is, if these thugs begin a guerrilla operation against the Ethiopian forces and if the Ethiopians choose to fight either a politically correct war, or to flush them out and kill them mercilessly.
"I call upon the Muslim nation in Somalia to remain in the new battlefield that is one of the crusader battlefields that are being launched by America and its allies and the United Nations against Islam and Muslims," Osama bin Laden's deputy Ayman al-Zawahri said in the audiotape.
"Launch ambushes, land mines, raids and suicidal combats until you consume them as the lions and eat their prey," the Egyptian-born al-Zawahri said. He also urged Muslims in other Mideast and African countries to support the Islamists battling the troops from Ethiopia, a country with a large Christian population.
For those that believe that religion plays little or no role in this, you might want to think again. Ethiopia is approximately one-third Muslim and almost two thirds Christian. What is amazing to me is the fact that these two groups have lived in the same country for years, without an extremely large amount of strife between them. Christianity has deep roots in Ethiopia and unlike other African countries, pre-dates European colonialism, as well as Islam. What I believe is happening here is the distinct fear that an Islamic republic in Somalia will eventually proliferate into their country. With one-third of a Muslim population, that certainly is a valid concern. Therefore, we are seeing a proactive intervention to minimize that possibility.
Remarkably, there seems to be little overall outrage about this action, certainly a lot less than the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The only ones that are making noise are those that are supporting the Islamists, like AQ. The fear I have is, that radical elements are implementing a policy very similar to that of the old Soviet Union, that is to say, the Domino Theory. If fundamental Islamists were to run candidates and get elected legally through the system that is in place, respect the rights of its citizenry regardless of their faith, and not actively seek to spread their doctrine to neighboring nations through violent means, one could not make the argument against them. But, with what we have been witnessing here and in other places in the world is hard to ignore.
Ethiopia has chosen to not bury its head in the sand, like many others that are faced with this dilemma (as well as those that possibly could be faced with it, in the future).