Last Tuesday, Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, an al Qaeda operative wanted for involvement in the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, died during a shootout at a checkpoint in Mogadishu, Somalia. The passing of Mohammed, born in the Comoros Islands in the mid-1970s, has occasioned a number of public statements by Somali and international leaders as well as much commentary on what comes next for al Qaeda in Africa and for al Shabab, Somalia’s al Qaeda-linked rebel movement. Here is a roundup of articles:
- US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: “Fazul’s death is a significant blow to Al Qaeda, its extremist allies, and its operations in East Africa. It is a just end for a terrorist who brought so much death and pain to so many innocents in Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, and elsewhere – Tanzanians, Kenyans, Somalis, others in the region, and our own embassy personnel.”
- Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed: “We have overpowered al Qaeda and al Shabaab in Somalia, they are weak and now melting away. [Mohammed’s] death is a major setback to al Shabaab and al Qaeda… He was a great burden to our government and to the neighboring countries.”
- Uganda People’s Defence Force: “With his death, the threat of attacking Uganda becomes less and it reduces the ability of the terrorists to attack Uganda. He was a prominent person and it is a great success in the struggle against terrorism.”
- AP/The Guardian includes reactions from Kenya.
- Time‘s Alex Perry: “In the last five years it seems Somalia has become too dangerous even for wanted international terrorists.”
- Christian Science Monitor‘s Tom Peter: “Mohammed’s death broadens Al Qaeda’s power vacuum following bin Laden’s death, and will likely disrupt Al Qaeda’s operations in East Africa.”
- Reuters: “Analysts said his death robbed al Qaeda and Somali affiliate al Shabaab of its most skilled operator and trainer, a master of attack planning as well as a computer expert with at least 18 aliases and a flair for disguise, forgery and bomb-making.”
What significance do you see in Mohammed’s death?