Don’t miss Enough Co-Founder John Prendergast’s article, co-authored with U.S. Institute of Peace Vice President David Smock, on today’s Huffington Post:
Somalia has become the poster child for transnational threats emanating from Africa. By sea, pirates much more dangerous than their predecessors from centuries past prowl the Indian Ocean and Red Sea waterways and extort tens of millions of dollars in ransom. By land, extremist militias connected to al-Qaeda units ensure that Somalia remains anarchic and the only country in the world without a functioning central government.
Until recently, this seemed to matter little to most Americans, as our only perceived connection to Somalia was the receding memory of the Black Hawk Down incident over 15 years ago, when 18 American soldiers were killed in what was thought to be a humanitarian mission.
Suddenly, though, Americans have reconnected to Somalia in two distinct ways. First, the drama that unfolded on the high seas which finally led to the rescue of the American ship captain from his pirate captors has provided a glimpse into a modern day profession that most of us had thought was limited to Johnny Depp movies and the shores of Tripoli. Ships carrying oil, tanks, and other prized cargo have been taken hostage by Somali pirates, and a naval armada from Europe, Asia and North America hasn’t stopped these sea-based predators.
Second, at least 20 American citizens have gone to Somalia and joined jihadist militias there, mostly to fight against Ethiopian forces which until recently occupied swathes of southern Somalia. These Americans joined the al-Shabab organization, which the U.S. classifies as a terrorist group. Many came from America’s Midwestern heartland, and were recruited mostly in mosques around Minneapolis.
Click here to read the full post.