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ICG Calls For Increased Efforts To Counter ‎Terrorism Threat
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NAIROBI, December 13, 2005 (IRIN) – The international community should counter the threat of terrorism in Somalia by helping the country to restore peace and establish a broad-based government, the International Crisis Group (ICG) said in a report on Monday.

"If governments are to counter the limited but real threat of terrorism in or from Somalia , they need to align closer with Somali priorities - the restoration of peace, legitimate and broad-based government, and essential services," the agency said in its latest report on Somalia .

Efforts to fight terrorism in Somalia must also target a small number of criminals, many of them foreigners, and not the Somali population at large, it added.

The think-tank said terrorists had in the past taken advantage of Somalia 's lack of state institutions. The country is suspected to have been a refuge for the al-Qaeda operatives that bombed a Kenyan resort in 2002 and tried to shoot down an Israeli aircraft in Mombasa , according to ICG.

Since 2003, Islamist extremists had been linked to the murders of Somalis and foreigners. The ICG noted, however, that Somalis in general showed little interest in jihadi Islamism and were deeply opposed to extremism.

From the time Somali government collapsed in 1991, a variety of Islamist reformist movements have sprung up inside the country - some inspired or sponsored by foreign interests. Most are nonviolent and opposed to ideological extremism.

The majority of reformist groups practice missionary activism, encouraging lax Muslims to return to their faith. A much lesser proportion is politically active but not extremist. Only a very small number, according to ICG, advocates jihad.

The growth of Shari'a (Islamic law) courts, charities and businesses with an apparently Islamist character had sparked fears in some circles of a conspiracy to transform Somalia into an Islamic state. In reality, according to ICG, Islamist activists are a diverse community, characterized more by competition and contradiction than cooperation, making a broad-based conspiracy implausible.

"The vast majority of Somalis desire a government - democratic, broadly-based and responsive - that reflects the Islamic faith as they have practiced it for centuries; with tolerance, moderation and respect for variation in religious observance.

"Ultimately, there is no better way to confront jihadism than to assist Somalis in realizing such a government," it added, acknowledging that repeated attempts over the past 15 years to rebuild the Somali state had ended in failure.

The ICG urged Somalia 's international partners not to back factions of the divided Transitional Federal Government and struggle instead to breathe life into the transitional federal charter, revive the defunct parliament and establish a broadly inclusive government of national unity.


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