CT in the Horn

The American and British presence on the Horn is sneaking into the news more often. The secrecy over military operations in the region is slowly being lifted. From the rescue of cheetah cubs to this AP story, a new front is being readied in an area International Crisis Group lists as a "Conflict Risk Alert":

"We know that al-Qaida al-Itihaad is in Somalia," Ghormley told reporters in an interview at his base in the impoverished nation of Djibouti. "They'd like to export that ... if we weren't there they would be.

"While the al-Qaida linked group al-Itihaad was largely destroyed or disbanded by Ethiopian troops fighting inside Somalia by 1997, some of its members have regrouped under new guises and have begun to grow in strength, according to an International Crisis Group report released in July.

Somalia, divided into warring fiefdoms and with no central government, remains fertile ground for terrorists.

The Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, set up in this former French colony in June 2002, is responsible for fighting terrorism in nine countries around the Horn of Africa: Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Somalia in Africa and Yemen on the southwestern corner of the Arabian Peninsula.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace, visited the Horn to emphasize the importance of the region.

Pentagon officials have been focusing more and more on the terrorist threat in that part of the world. They say it's not purely one posed by al-Qaida, either.

Officials say they're worried about an upswing in acts of piracy and violence that's moving further out from shore.

Most important, however, is the following (emphasis added):

One Navy admiral says he has to pour more resources into fighting the problem. He says he can't wait to establish a link between terrorist groups and pirates. As he puts it, "I have no choice but to act preemptively."