Yemen fears Somali refugee militancy

Jan. 12, 2010 at 8:35 AM

SANA'A, Yemen, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- Yemeni officials fear that Somalis fleeing to their country as refugees could become the next generation of al-Qaida terrorists, officials and analysts say.

Yemen's shaky government is concerned that thousands of Somali men and boys coming to Yemen include Islamic militants from the al-Shabaab group, which is fighting the transitional government in Mogadishu, and who could swell the ranks of al-Qaida already in Yemen, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

The newspaper said the United States could find itself facing a unified al-Qaida-al-Shabaab insurgency spreading across both Yemen in the Arabian Peninsula and Somalia in Africa.

Saeed Obaid, a Yemeni terrorism expert who wrote a book on al-Qaeda's Yemen affiliate, told the Post, "Somalia for Yemen is becoming like what Pakistan is for Afghanistan."

The newspaper said Yemeni security forces have staged raids on Somali refugee communities in recent days, arresting suspected al-Shabaab loyalists and creating an atmosphere of fear in the 1 million-strong community as reports of forced militant recruitment surface.

"The climate has changed, and it is heating up," Mohammed Ali, a top leader of the Somali community in the Yemeni capital of Sana'a, told the Post.

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