Somali Islamist leader surfaces in Eritrea

Sept. 6, 2007 at 3:08 PM
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ASMARA, Eritrea, Sept. 6 (UPI) -- The head of Somalia's Islamist movement reappeared after eight months in hiding this week to attend a meeting of opposition forces in Eritrea.

Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys, the Somali Council of Islamic Courts head who was forced to flee the nation's capital last year by Ethiopian forces, attended the opposition congress in the Eritrean capital of Asmara this week, The Guardian reported Thursday.

Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, thought to be the Islamic council's second-in-command, said the goal of the ten-day gathering was free Somalia from Ethiopian control.

"We call upon Ethiopia to unconditionally withdraw its troops from Somalia and stop its imperialistic adventure on our territory," Ahmed said during Wednesday's meeting. "We remind her that the longer the conflict goes on, the higher the risk it will engulf the whole region."

The Guardian said that Aweys was suspected as being a key player in the recent militant insurgency in Somalia aimed at disrupting the power of the Ethiopian military and the African nation's interim government.

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