Obama administration leak about Libya military palnning undernies defense capabilities, puts killers of US diplomats and SEALs out of reach
Obama Administration Chooses To Support Re-Election At Expense of Justice for 9/11/12 Victims
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Scott Taylor, president of the OPSEC, issued the following statement in response to leaks by the Obama Administration yesterday that it was preparing for military operations in North Africa in response to the September 11, 2012, attacks in Benghazi that killed the U.S. Ambassador, another diplomat and two former SEALs:
“There is clearly nothing this Administration won’t do or say to support President Obama’s re-election, including using premature statements about clandestine military operations planning to deflect attention from the Administration’s failure to protect our diplomats and security teams and now-obvious campaign of misinformation in the aftermath of the attack. The question of who ordered Ambassador Rice to speak out on numerous mainstream media networks in a clearly untruthful way remains to be answered.
“Several current Administration officials have provided information to the media about on-going military planning that is obviously trying to show the Administration is ‘getting tough’ with North African militants who carefully planned and executed attacks on September 11, 2012. Unfortunately the Administration’s military ramp-up comes too late the save the lives of those who had requested such support prior to the attacks.
“These leaks may help the president’s re-election campaign but they will actually make it harder to find and bring justice to those responsible for the attacks, who now know they have a target on their backs if they didn’t realize it before. Advertising the planning for the missions also unnecessarily increases the risks to the Special Operations personnel who may need to undertake any missions.
“Time and again the Obama Administration has shown it is willing to put its own political needs before the safety and security of the Americans who serve our country in dangerous places and this latest example is no different. Aren’t some things more important than politics?”
OPSEC, a group of former Intelligence officers and Special Operations members, previously released the film “Dishonorable Disclosures,” a documentary short film that views the impact of the increasing number of leaks on Intelligence and Special Operations missions, tradecraft, tactics and capabilities from the perspective of those who have relied on these tools to carryout similar missions and protect themselves and those they served alongside. The film is being shown in ads and at events and in advertising in key states across the country over the next several months, including Virginia, Florida, Ohio, Colorado, North Carolina and Nevada. More information about OPSEC and news about the release of “Dishonorable Disclosures” can be found at www.OpSecTeam.org.
The desultory vice-presidential debate underscored that, even if there were not a thousand other reasons for denying President Obama a second term, the Libya scandal alone would be reason enough to remove him.
By the time the ineffable Joe Biden took center stage Thursday night, Obama operatives had already erected a façade of mendacity around the jihadist murder of our ambassador to Libya and three other U.S. officials. The vice president promptly exploited the debate forum to trumpet a bald-faced lie: He denied the administration’s well-established refusal to provide adequate security for the diplomatic team. Just as outrageously, he insisted that the intelligence community, not the election-minded White House, was the source of the specious claim that an obscure, unwatched video about Islam’s prophet — a video whose top global publicists are Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton — spontaneously sparked the Benghazi massacre.
Our emissaries in Libya understood that they were profoundly threatened. They communicated fears for their lives to Washington, pleading for additional protection. That is established fact. Yet Biden maintained that it was untrue: “We weren’t told they wanted more security again. We did not know they wanted more security again.”
Shameful: so much so that even Jay Carney, no small-time Libya propagandist himself, would feel compelled to walk Biden’s denial back the next morning. But the vice president was far from done. His assertion that “the intelligence community told us” that protests over the video had sparked the murders of our officials was breathtaking, even by Biden standards.
For a moment, let’s pretend that there is no historical context — meaning, no Obama-policy context — in which to place what happened in Benghazi on September 11. Let’s just stick with the freshest intelligence.
In recent months, Benghazi has been the site of several jihadist attacks. The International Red Cross offices there were bombed in May by an al-Qaeda affiliate called the “Imprisoned Omar Abdul Rahman Brigades” — named in honor of the “Blind Sheikh,” whose detention in the U.S., on a life sentence for terrorism convictions, al-Qaeda has repeatedly vowed to avenge.
On June 4, four missiles fired from an unmanned U.S. drone killed 15 people at a jihadist compound in Pakistan. The most prominent was al-Qaeda’s revered Libyan leader, Hassan Mohammed Qaed, better known by his nom de guerre, Abu Yahya al-Libi. It was a severe blow to the terror network, and the intelligence community instantly knew al-Qaeda was determined to avenge it.
The following day, the Abdul Rahman Brigades detonated an explosive outside the American consulate in Benghazi. According to CNN, the attack was specifically “timed to coincide with preparations for the arrival of a senior U.S. State Department official.” The Brigades recorded the attack on video, interspersing scenes of the mayhem with footage of al-Qaeda leaders and 9/11 carnage. In claiming responsibility, the jihadists brayed that they were targeting U.S. diplomats in retaliation for the killing of al-Libi. A week later, the Brigades shot rockets at the British ambassador’s convoy as it moved through Benghazi.
By midsummer, al-Qaeda’s emir, Ayman al-Zawahiri, recorded an acknowledgment of al-Libi’s death that exhorted jihadists, particularly in Libya, to retaliate: “His blood urges you and incites you to fight and kill the crusaders.” Naturally, Zawahiri was targeting September 11 as the moment for vengeance. His recording was released on that morning, intimating that a revenge strike would be the most fitting way for Libyans to mark the day when, eleven years earlier, al-Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 Americans. Obligingly, al-Qaeda affiliates carried out the Benghazi massacre later that day.
Not only did the intelligence community have reason aplenty to anticipate trouble in Benghazi on September 11 — reason having nothing to do with the Mohammed video. We now know, thanks to reportingby the Daily Beast’s Eli Lake, that the diplomatic compound’s surveillance cameras recorded “an organized group of armed men attacking the compound.” Mr. Lake adds that the intelligence community had a surveillance drone taking video “for the final hour of the night battle at the consulate compound and nearby annex.” Moreover, U.S. intelligence officials figured out, within a day of the attack, that the operation was pre-planned and several participants were tied to al-Qaeda affiliates.
Yet, the administration continued, day after day, blaming the massacre on the video. The claim was absurd on its face. Plus, it contradicted an intelligence tapestry signaling a well-planned jihadist operation, to say nothing of the manner of the attack — the timing, preparation, and cruelty of which veritably screamed, “al-Qaeda!” Still, even now, Biden and the Obama administration claim that the intelligence community actually believed our people were killed over a video — that Obama officials were simply repeating what they were told, not spouting what they audaciously hoped to deceive Americans into believing.
Why the deception? Because if you conclude the Benghazi massacre had nothing to do with a cockamamie video no one has seen, you soon realize Obama’s favorite campaign theme — namely, that killing bin Laden decimated the terror network — is nonsense. And you realize that what happened in Benghazi on September 11 is directly traceable to Obama’s Middle East policy.
As noted above, the recent intelligence we’ve just reviewed arose in a historic context. Beginning in 2009, the Obama administration, echoing the Republican establishment, told Americans that Qaddafi had become a key ally of the United States against terrorism. Obama even substantially increased the American aid the Bush administration had begun providing to Qaddafi’s regime. The rationale for embracing the dictator was straightforward: Not only had Qaddafi abandoned his nuclear program; he was providing vital intelligence about jihadist cauldrons throughout his country. By percentage of population, more Libyans traveled to Iraq to wage terrorist war against American troops than did citizens of any other country. And in Libya, Benghazi was the epicenter of the jihad.
In 2011, however, President Obama initiated an unprovoked war against the Qaddafi regime. Though Qaddafi had taken no intervening hostile action against the United States, and though no vital American national interest would be served by Qaddafi’s removal, Obama chose to side with the Islamist rebellion against him. Why? As demonstrated in my new book, Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy, the president was determined to sell the “Arab Spring” fantasy of a Middle East seized by the desire for freedom rather than strangled by the ambitions of freedom-killing Islamic supremacists.
In Libya, Islamists were the backbone of the rebellion: the Muslim Brotherhood partnering, as it is wont to do, with violent jihadists — in this instance, al-Qaeda and its affiliates. Toppling Qaddafi would necessarily result in their empowerment. They’d insinuate themselves into any new government. They’d set up sharia enclaves where they were strong enough to do so. And they’d strengthen themselves by seizing chunks of Qaddafi’s arsenal of high-powered weaponry. Being incorrigibly anti-American, they’d use their new influence and power against the United States.
That is why some of us implored Obama not to intervene. As I argued at the time (responsively quoting a Fox News anchor):
I am not “suggesting that we would be better off with the Qaddafi dictatorship still in effect.” I am saying it outright. If the choice is between an emerging Islamist regime and a Qaddafi dictatorship that cooperates with the United States against Islamists, then I’ll take Qaddafi. If the choice is between tolerating the Qaddafi dictatorship and disgracing ourselves by . . . turning a blind eye to the atrocities of our new Islamist friends . . . then give me the Qaddafi dictatorship every time.
The “atrocities” of note at the time were twofold: the massacres Libya’s Islamists carried out against black Africans suspected of allying with Qaddafi’s regime, and the barbaric murder of Qaddafi himself — when he was abused and displayed as a trophy, just like Ambassador Christopher Stevens would later be. These opened a ready window on the type of savages Obama’s policy was guaranteed to abet.
The straight line from Obama’s Libya policy of empowering Islamists to the Benghazi massacre is rarely discussed. Maybe it would be clearer if the Republican establishment had not ardently supported Obama’s war against Libya. Maybe it would be clearer if Romney and Ryan stopped sounding nearly as delusional about the “Arab Spring” as Obama and Biden do. Maybe it would be clearer if Romney and Ryan stopped talking about reprising the Libya debacle in Syria, joined at the hip to what they call “our ally Turkey” — Hamas’s new sugar daddy and staunchest defender. It would surely be welcome if the GOP ticket started diagnosing “spring fever” instead of manifesting its symptoms.
In Benghazi, we see the wages of the disease. The pathogen was not a video. Want to know why our people were left unprotected and why mounds of intelligence foreshadowing peril were ignored? Don’t look to Obama’s vice president, look to Obama’s policy.
We are living in very disingenuous times. Nothing is what it is portrayed to be. The media has you focusing on the inane, the left has you believing its all about ‘likability’. The pollsters are pushing results on you that are not statistically accurate nor are they a true reflection – rather they are driving a message. Its all a miscarriage of information that is quite frankly the basest form of propaganda.
The incumbent administration is working hand-in-hand with the media and many pollsters – why? Because they need to keep you looking away from the failures, the lies, the untruths, the dismal situation in which they have planted us. If they do not, they have no chance of winning the votes of any more than the “47%” they berate Romney for speaking about. But what was missing from that surreptitious tape?
What was missing were the parts that matter most – the real picture, the real leadership that is possible, the fraud perpetrated on you – not the ‘dog and pony show’, not the appeal to ‘coolness’ by cavorting with Hollywood types, not the play on our sentiments and emotions. Why we ask again – because they do not want to face the hard decisions that you are not going to like if you knew the whole story. What is not missing are the stark lies of the administration, like Susan Rice on the talk shows, and the sudden reversal of the official story from the White House on the 9.11 (Eleven) terror strike in Libya.
Andrew McCarthy once again addresses what is really happening below in yet another concise and deeply meaningful analysis of the day. But before you read that article, watch this video about what the media is not trumpeting to cause Romney harm, to cause you to shift your focus:
If they lie, you can’t trust them. That’s a fairly straightforward rule. It is certainly the one that trial lawyers bank on.
It is not a hard and fast rule. A person may shade the truth for various reasons: vanity, personal allegiances, financial incentives, etc. Usually, once you figure out the relevant motivation, you can sort out on what matters he is probably credible and what he is prone to lie about. Sometimes, though, the story is so unbelievable, so insulting to the intelligence, that a rational juror knows it is best to discount all of the testimony — or, worse, to conclude that the truth is likely the opposite of the witness’s desperate version.
Of course, all the world’s a stage, not a courtroom. I am reminded of this when, as now, I happen to have a book out (Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy) that speaks to events currently roiling the world. I am reminded, that is, that I am no longer a trial lawyer making arguments to a jury. Now I am a writer who makes his arguments to the public and, at book-publication times like these, through the prism of the mainstream media. So it was that, in a few interviews this week, I have been asked about two currently raging symptoms of “Spring Fever,” the Libya attacks and the Blind Sheikh.
Today’s journalists do not resemble jurors. The interviews proceed in a now-familiar pattern. We go through the events of last week’s atrocity in Libya, where U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were murdered in Benghazi. Again and again, Obama-administration officials insisted that the killings were the result of spontaneous rioting over an obscure movie casting Islam’s prophet in an unflattering light — a movie from months ago, a movie virtually no one knew about, much less saw, a production so cockamamie that calling it a “movie” fails the straight-face test.
As the administration well knew, this was a coordinated jihadist attack led by al-Qaeda-affiliated forces, clearly well-trained and equipped with sophisticated weapons. One of the participants was a former Gitmo prisoner, detained there for years because it was patent that, given the chance, he’d go back to the jihad. There appears to have been forewarning about likely trouble on the 9/11 anniversary.
Did anyone really need in-depth intelligence to recognize these dangers? Part of the reason the United States struck up an alliance with Qaddafi’s despicable regime was his intelligence cooperation: Per capita, Libya sent more jihadists to Iraq to fight against American troops than any other country. The only difference between then and now is that, with Obama having toppled Qaddafi in a war the U.S. launched without provocation and on the side of al-Qaeda, the rabidly anti-American Islamists of Benghazi now have access to high-powered weaponry previously unavailable to them. A movie? Before the president ever got to his unseemly Vegas fundraiser, with the nation still mourning its dead, it was pluperfectly obvious that we’d been subjected to a terrorist strike that had nothing to do with a moronic movie.
Yet our U.N. ambassador, Susan Rice, repeated the farcical Obama-admnistration line with a straight face. It was insulting, and even reporters for whom Obama can do no wrong could not take it seriously. In some of my interviews there has been nervous laughter — not over the situation, which is so deadly serious, but over the administration’s line, which has been ludicrous.
But then we get to the Blind Sheikh. I prosecuted Omar Abdel Rahman back in my former trial-lawyer life. He is less than 20 years into his life sentence for terrorism convictions. During his time in prison, he nevertheless managed to issue the fatwa Osama bin Laden credited as the required sharia green-light for the 9/11 attacks. So I have been asked often this week about reports that he may be transferred to his native Egypt. There, as Spring Fever demonstrates, the populace is overwhelmingly adherent to the supremacist Islam that dominates the Middle East. There, his war against America makes him a hero, and he would be welcomed, triumphantly, as such.
Could that possibly happen? “You bet it could,” I’ve told my interlocutors, “it could and it will.” Watch for the frightening weeks between Election Day and Inauguration Day, when, no matter who wins the election, Barack Obama will retain all the awesome power of the presidency without any of the accountability of an impending election.
“But wait,” I’m admonished. “They’ve denied it. The Justice Department has denied it. So has the State Department, and at least one member of the National Security Council. How much clearer can they be?”
I don’t know. How much clearer could they have been about Libya?
The Obama administration is the witness whose testimony a jury would discount out of hand. We trust jurors to decide important questions because they bring to the task the common sense of the community. After Libya, the sensible person says, “Never again.” The sensible person does not even see the point of asking Obama officials for information.
Not the media, though. Whether it is Libya, the “practically complete fence” along the Mexican border, the Obamacare tax that is not a tax, the indignant denial of gun-running, cutting the deficit in half by the end of the first term, the composite girlfriend, the “most transparent administration in history,” and so on — the media compartmentalizes from lie to lie, assessing the next as if the last had never happened.
Does the president rate the benefit of the doubt at this point? Seriously?
No way this administration would spring a notorious terrorist? Are you kidding?
The president has already released the terrorists responsible for murdering our five soldiers in Karbala. In his last go-round at Justice, Eric Holder orchestrated pardons for convicted FALN terrorists — pardons signed off on by President Clinton, who went on to release two convicted Weather Underground terrorists on his way out the Oval Office door.
There is nothing new here. Reports that the State Department was discussing a transfer of the Blind Sheikh back to Egypt surfaced months ago, in the context of a potential swap for democracy activists the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces was then detaining. The administration then issued a visa to Hani Nour Eldin, a member of the Islamic Group — the Blind Sheikh’s terrorist organization, to which it is a felony to provide material assistance. The purpose was to invite Eldin to, yes, the White House, for consultations with top American national-security officials on prospective relations between the United States and the new, Islamist Egypt. As the administration had to know he would do, he pressed his top agenda item: The United States must return the Blind Sheikh as a “gift to the revolution.”
Eldin obviously felt very comfortable making the demand. We do not know exactly what he was told or what message he took back to Egypt. We do know that shortly afterward, as soon as the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi was announced as winner of the July presidential election, Morsi publicly vowed to pressure the United States to transfer the Blind Sheikh back home.
Did the Obama administration express outrage? Did the president tell Morsi, “Not in a million years”? No, he dispatched Secretary of State Clinton to Cairo for a friendly face-to-face meeting with Morsi — right after she paid a visit to the ruling generals, squeezing them to surrender power to the popularly elected Brotherhood regime. Then the Obama administration got about the business of planning both more billions in aid for Egypt and a red-carpet welcome for Morsi at the White House — the kind of meeting our actual ally, Israel, asked for but can’t seem to get as our busy commander-in-chief bounces from David Letterman to Jay-Z.
But don’t worry: Obama would never send the Blind Sheikh back to Egypt after the election, when the wrath of voters is no longer a concern for him. After all, administration officials have sworn otherwise, and we know we can take that to the bank, right?
Editor’s Note – Be careful of what you ask for. When you kick over a can of worms, it may be more than worms that emerge. Now that the dictator is gone, what is emerging from the can of worms may be more volatile, especially if Shariah Law becomes the backbone of the ‘new’ Libya.
Islamic Sharia law will be the ‘basic source’ of legislation in free Libya, says new leader
I regret Gaddafi death says prime minister: Tyrant ‘should have answered for his crimes in court’
‘Embrace honesty, patience and mercy,’ NTC head tells Libyans
Libya’s new prime minister has laid out a vision for his country’s new legal system – and it may come as a bit of shock to some of the millions of citizens still celebrating their new-found freedom.
Mahmoud Jibril said the country’s legislature would have an Islamist tint and existing laws that contradict the teachings of Islam would be nullified.
He outlined several changes in a major speech, including putting caps on interest for bank loans and lifting restrictions on the number of wives Libyan men can take. The Muslim holy book, the Koran, allows men up to four wives.
Mr Jibril also thanked those who fought and fell in the war, saying they ‘are somewhere better than here, with God.’
Displaying his own piety, he then stepped aside from the podium and knelt to offer a prayer of thanks.
But, after Libya announced its official liberation from Colonel Gaddafi’s 42-year rule yesterday, the nation’s new leader said he wished the hated despot was still alive.
Prime minister Jibril said he would have preferred to see Gaddafi put on trial for his crimes.
‘I want to know why he did this to the Libyan people,’ Mr Jibril explained. ‘I wish I were his prosecutor in his trial, because this is the question in everybody’s mind: Why?
‘Did the Libyan people deserve what he did throughout 42 years of oppression, of killing, of everything?’
Britain yesterday urged the new Libyan government to investigate the killing of Gaddafi last week.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said the reputation of the ruling National Transitional Council had been ‘a little bit stained’ by the way the dictator died at the hands of his captors.
Graphic footage broadcast around the world from the scene showed a wounded and bleeding Gaddafi being manhandled by fighters loyal to the NTC before apparently being shot.
But few in Libya were mourning Gaddafi’s passing yesterday as the Libyan people finally declared themselves liberated.
Tens of thousands joined in scenes of wild jubilation nationwide as the country’s interim government brought a formal close to eight months of bloodshed to unseat the dictator and his family. They started the countdown to democracy by announcing there would be elections within months.
The long-awaited declaration of liberation came more than two months after revolutionary forces swept into Tripoli and seized control of most of the oil-rich nation. The end was delayed by fierce resistance from Gaddafi loyalists in his hometown of Sirte, as well as in Bani Walid and pockets in the south.
At a ceremony in the eastern city of Benghazi, where the revolution began, Mr Jibril declared the defeat of Gaddafi a ‘great moment’, but he warned the Libyan people to remember the agony of the past and choose a different path for the future.
With Gaddafi gone, he said, the NTC must move swiftly to transform the country into a democracy.
Among its first challenges is to disarm the freedom fighters, most of whom were students, office workers and factory hands who underwent rudimentary military training when the uprising began. Mr Jibril said it was a priority to ensure huge caches of weapons were turned in over the ‘next few days’.
The vast majority of Libyans appear glad Gaddafi is dead. Many think it will allow the nation to move forward without fear that his supporters will try to sabotage the transition to democracy.
But the UN and Amnesty International have demanded an investigation into evidence suggesting the former leader was summarily executed after being captured alive.
A bullet hole in Gaddafi’s left temple has been hidden from view by his head being tilted to one side in the freezer room where his body is on show to the public. A blanket also hides the bruises on his torso and scratch marks on his chest that had earlier been visible.
Mobile phone footage of Gaddafi’s last moments shows the bloodied dictator being taunted with a pistol, before a single shot rings out, followed by silence.
Omran al-Oweib, the commander of the rebels who captured Gaddafi, admitted things had ‘got out of hand’ among young soldiers when they tried to bring him in alive.
Before the doomed dash for freedom that ended in his death, rebels discovered that Gaddafi had hidden for two weeks in a boarded-up house in Sirte, living on ready meals and tinned tomatoes.
But as the neighbourhood crumbled around him under the revolutionaries’ shelling, his sense of self-importance remained intact – a wall in his bolthole was decorated with a signed photograph of himself in his naval commander’s uniform.
Also found in the house were a brocaded cranberry silk waistcoat – size 54 – with a handmade gold-striped tie and some Italian shirts.
n Between 60 and 70 per cent of Tunisian voters turned out for their country’s first free elections yesterday. They were voting to elect an assembly to appoint a new government after an Arab Spring uprising.
The long-banned Ennahda party is expected to win when the results are announced today.
Editor’s Note – Al-Shabab is a Somali faction of Al Qaeda that in recent days, has emerged as a killing machine, and Kenyan soldiers have even entered Somalia to confront them. Included below is the latest article on that theater. Border wars and the struggle for control of Somalia have become a major conflict that the UN and NATO forces have essentially ignored. We are witnessing yet another re-do of Mogadishu as US troops land in Uganda, and it is spreading to other regions. Yet, the wars in the Middle East and North Africa also include the massive fighting and death toll on the Kurd group P.K.K.in and around Turkey and Iraq. The PKK has been deemed a terror organization by the United States.
Our diplomatic strategy seems most predominantly focused on Afghanistan and Pakistan despite the myriad issues elsewhere. Currently, Hillary Clinton has a very large delegation with her for her meeting with Karzai. “U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Afghan President Hamid Karzai participated in a joint press conference in Kabul on the eve of Clinton’s visit to Pakistan”. In the Wednesday address, Clinton warned Pakistan against harboring terrorists, using what The New York Times labeled “some of the Obama administration’s most pointed language to date.”
Clinton and Karzai discussed the implications of Pakistan providing safe haven to militants including the Taliban and the Haqqani, and Clinton pledged to “push the Pakistanis very hard” on the issue of terrorism. Clinton is scheduled to arrive in Islamabad on Thursday accompanied by an “unusually powerful” delegation including U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey and CIA Director David Petraeus, and will reportedly deliver a message of both “support and pressure” to Pakistan. Despite the “muscular show of diplomatic force,” The New York Times reports that talks may be plagued by “fundamentally different views” held by the two countries on how to combat terrorism. That is an understatement of course, and its not the only set of differing views in that theater.
Pakistan Security Brief – In recent months, Pakistan has “turned the tables” on the U.S. by charging that terrorist safe havens have developed in eastern Afghanistan, which Pakistan suggests is the “new regional hub for Islamist militants.” According to the Washington Post, some analysts have expressed that Pakistan may be “pushing this case as an excuse for not pursuing the Haqqani Network” in Pakistani territory. Meanwhile, the U.S. is pushing Pakistan to accept a proposal allowing for international monitoring bodies to be stationed along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to ensure regional security and non-interference prior to the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan in 2014.”
Somali Shebab rebels claim dozens of dead AU peacekeepers
Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab rebels displayed “over 70” dead bodies outside Mogadishu on Thursday, which they claimed were African Union peacekeepers killed in battle.
If verified, it would be the worst massacre and largest single defeat that the AU force in Mogadishu has suffered in some four years of bloody battles defending the weak Western-backed government against the hardline Shebab.
“We have killed more than 70 of the enemy soldiers today… We have inflicted heavy losses on them and you can see their dead bodies,” Shebab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage said, displaying the bodies in the dust to reporters.
Angry crowds dragged some of the bodies across the ground, witnesses said.
Photographs show long lines of at least 20 bodies dressed in military uniform laid out in the sand, surrounded by a large crowd with their faces covered.
Witnesses confirmed that the dead bodies were displayed in the extremist Shebab-controlled Alamada area, some 18 kilometres (11 miles) outside the war-torn capital late Thursday, and that the bodies were not Somalis.
“I have seen the largest number of soldiers killed in a battle, I have counted 63 Burundian soldiers, all of them dead, the Shebab brought them on trucks to Alamada,” Hasan Yunus, a witness said.
“Some of the dead bodies were dragged along by angry residents — I could not count them exactly, but there were more than 60,” said Ahmed Jama, another witness.
African Union Mission for Somalia (AMISOM) troops and government forces have been pushing into remaining rebel areas in Mogadishu, after the bulk of the Shebab abandoned fixed positions in August.
Burundian troops with the 9,000 strong AMISOM force control the sector closest to the fighting and are believed to have led the assault.
Ugandan soldiers make up the bulk of the AU force and control other sections of the anarchic capital.
Despite their pullout from much from the capital, the Shebab have not wavered from their aim to topple the AU-protected government. They still control large swathes of southern and central Somalia, and remain a serious security threat.
Shebab fighters in southern Somalia are also facing assaults from Kenyan troops and tanks backed by air strikes since Nairobi declared war on the insurgents and confirmed it had moved its forces into Somalia on Sunday.
Kenya’s military said Thursday it had seized the coastal area of Ras Kamboni without a fight, a former Shebab stronghold just across the Somali border, said military spokesman Major Emmanuel Chirchir.
Inland, Chirchir said Kenyan troops were bogged down by “heavy rains” some 100 kilometres (60 miles) inside Somalia, as they prepared to push forward to seize the town of Afmadow, where Somali government forces were fighting.
Nairobi’s unprecedented military incursion into Somalia, which it said had already killed dozens of Shebab fighters, has triggered warnings of bloody retaliation by the Shebab.
The Shebab deny involvement in a spate of attacks and abductions from Kenya — including that of a disabled French woman who died in captivity — that Nairobi says prompted its offensive.
In Somalia, there has been a series of suicide bombings in the capital since the Shebab rebels said they were abandoning face-to-face battles and switching to guerrilla tactics in the city instead.
Earlier this month, a suicide bomber exploded a truck laden with explosives, killing at least 82 people and wounding many more.
But the deaths in Mogadishu Thursday provide a grim warning suggesting that the Shebab remain a powerful military threat.
Shamso Abdulkadir was amongst the giant crowd who came to see the dead bodies, and said that some wore body armour and helmets.
“I have counted 70, most of them were shot in the head and shoulders,” Abdulakdir told AFP.
“Residents gathered to watch the dead bodies after they were publicly displayed, and then afterwards, they were dragged about by people,” she said.
Somali government and AMISOM officials could not be immediately reached for comment.
Heavy fighting was reported in the northwest Deynile district throughout Thursday, but Somali government officials had earlier said they were moving alongside AU troops “towards the final strongholds of the terrorist militants”.
Battles began before dawn in Mogadishu as AU-backed Somali forces advanced on holdout Islamist Shebab positions, officials and witnesses said.
The fighting was centered in Deynile suburb, a remaining pocket still held by the Al-Qaeda linked militants, which borders the rebel-held Afgoye, the world’s largest camp for displaced people.
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