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NAIROBI, Kenya - A new and ruthless cell with links to al-Qaida has grabbed a foothold in Somalia’s capital, according to a report released Monday that dovetails with other analyses showing the lawless country could become a haven for international terrorists.
In its report, the International Crisis Group said the Mogadishu cell was led by a young Somali militant trained in Afghanistan, where al-Qaida was once based. The report said the group “announced its existence by murdering four foreign aid workers in the relatively secure territory of Somaliland between October 2003 and April 2004.”
The Brussels-based group that tracks world conflicts said the threat of terrorism inspired by an extremist interpretation of Islam “in and from Somalia is real.” It added that al-Qaida contributed to attacks on U.S. and U.N. peacekeepers in Somalia in the early 1990s and used the country as a transit zone for attacks in neighboring Kenya and as a hiding place for some of its leading members today.