March 20, 2009 in Nation/World

Bin Laden urges Somali rebellion


Osama bin Laden urged Somalis on Thursday to overthrow their new president, issuing a statement that clearly outlines al-Qaida’s ambitions in a nation long feared to be a haven for the terrorist network.

Bin Laden’s 11 1/2 -minute audiotape was entirely focused on Somalia, an impoverished country in the Horn of Africa that has been in chaos for nearly two decades, torn apart by warlords and Islamic militant groups. In January, parliament elected President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, a moderate Islamist, in hopes that he would unify the country’s factions.

“I think people who were skeptical that al-Qaida has ambition in Somalia will now have to think twice,” Rashid Abdi, an analyst at the International Crisis Group think tank in Nairobi told the Associated Press.

U.S. counterterrorism officials have warned of al-Qaida’s growing ties with the powerful al-Shabab group, which frequently battles government troops and militia allies, and attacks African Union peacekeepers in the country.

In the audiotape, bin Laden told Somalia’s militants that “you are the first line of defense for the Islamic world in its southwestern part; and your patience and resolve supports your brothers in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Islamic Maghreb, Pakistan and the rest of the fields of Jihad.”


Journalists seized by North Koreans

At a time of escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula, two American TV journalists and their guide were taken into custody by North Korea while shooting video near the sensitive border region between China and the isolated state.

Laura Ling and Euna Lee were on assignment with San Francisco-based Current TV when they were seized Tuesday. The guide, whose name was not released, is a Chinese citizen.

Their detention was confirmed by activists who had helped arrange the reporting trip. The pair had been near the northeastern Chinese city of Yanji.

It was unclear whether the Americans were on the Chinese or the North Korean side of the 850-mile border, which is marked by two rivers, the Yalu and the Tumen.

South Korea’s YTN Television quoted an unnamed source saying that the women might have crossed into North Korea unwittingly because recent drought had left river levels so low it was difficult to see the border. Another South Korean report said they were arrested after they refused to stop filming.

From wire reports

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