Al-Qaida-linked Somali Islamist Draws Comparison With Mandela
DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (AFP)–A Somali hardline cleric accused of ties with Al- Qaida compared himself Wednesday with Nelson Mandela, saying he was fighting to free his country from foreign occupiers.
Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, an influential cleric designated a terrorist by Washington, said: “Americans must use their great wisdom and should not call a freedom fighter a terrorist.”
“I am not harmful to the interest of the United States and other western countries, but I will not stop fighting for Somalia in order to be accepted by the West,” he told AFP by phone from the Eritrean capital Asmara.
“Nelson Mandela was once a terrorist and he was in the U.S. list of people accused of fomenting terrorism, but now he is a patriot and well-respected figure. My case is not different.”
On July 1, the U.S. removed Mandela – winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 and president of South Africa from 1994 to 1999 – and his African National Congress from a three-decade-old immigration watch list for possible terrorists.
(…) Aweys says he is fighting for the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops who entered Somalia late 2006 and helped oust an Islamist group that had taken control.
“There are efforts to bring peace to Somalia, but all those efforts are futile as long as Ethiopians are occupying Somalia, destroying our livelihoods by killing women and children,” he said.
“I would like to work with all Somali forces that are committed to the liberation of Somalia. There is only one disease in Somalia, the presence of the Ethiopian forces.
“If these Ethiopians leave, Somalis will overcome their shortcomings,” he said.
So: he is fighting against Ethiopian troops who entered Somalia to oust an Islamist regime… in order to create an Islamist Somalia… not to “be accepted by the West” blablabla…