Bin Laden had keen interest in Somalia

July 2, 2012 at 1:17 PM
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MONTREAL, July 2 (UPI) -- Osama bin Laden likely viewed Somalia as a potential base for a militant-controlled state in a strategic corner of the world, an analyst said.

Bin laden advised leaders of al-Shabaab in Somalia on "good governance." The revelation came from documents captured from his compound in Pakistan following his death at the hands of U.S. SEALs last year.

Christopher Anzalone, an Islamic terrorism doctoral student at McGill University in Canada, told the BBC that bin Laden likely saw Somalia as a strategic opportunity.

The disclosure, he said, "suggests that the late al-Qaida central leader viewed Somalia as one of the locations where the 'mujahedin' had the greatest chance of setting up a kind of insurgent-jihadi state with broad territorial control."

Al-Shabaab is considered the Somali affiliate of al-Qaida. The group aims to establish an Islamist state in the country.

Bin Laden documents released in May by the U.S. military's Combating Terrorism Center at West Point suggested he was concerned, however, about al-Shabaab's strict interpretation of Islamic law.

The interim government in Somalia is backed by African forces seeking to help gain dominance over al-Shabaab, which controls parts of the country.

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