At a time of drought, skyrocketing food prices, crippling inflation and intensifying street fighting, many of the aid workers upon whom millions of Somalis depend for survival are fleeing their posts - or in some cases the country.Sounds like al Qaeda to me...but if I'm wrong, it's another collection of dirtballs.
They are being driven out by what appears to be an organized terror campaign. Ominous leaflets recently surfaced on the bullet-pocked streets of Mogadishu, Somalia's ruin of a capital, calling aid workers "infidels" and warning them that they will be methodically hunted down. Since January, at least 20 aid workers have been killed, more than in any year in recent memory. Still others have been abducted.
The deliberate assault on aid workers is a chilling new dimension to the crisis in Somalia that has unfolded over the past 17 years but has grown increasingly violent as outside forces, including the U.S. military, have turned a civil war into a more international conflict.[Note by Eagle1: WTF? It was an international aid mission that ran afoul of other agendas - especially al Qaeda's]
It is not clear who is behind the terror campaign or whether it is connected to previous assassinations of journalists and intellectuals. The leaflets and accompanying e-mail messages sent to several aid organizations seem to signify a new degree of organization.
Some of the warnings were signed by a little-known group called the Martyrs of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, which takes its name from the notorious Jordanian terrorist killed by U.S. forces in Iraq in 2006. [Note by Eagle1: I wonder why the report left off that Zarqi was the head of al Qaeda in Iraq?] The group said the aid workers were conspiring with "infidels," and Western diplomats said the killings might be intended to make Somalia seem so chaotic that Western countries would abandon it.
But several factions of Somalia's Islamist movement, which is fighting an intense guerrilla war against the government, have condemned the attacks.
Sheik Muktar Robow Abu Monsur, a leader of the Shebab insurgent group, said Islamic militants were actually guarding food convoys. UN officials have mixed feelings about the Shebab, saying that some factions are violently anti-Western while others recently helped free two kidnapped aid workers.
Some Western security analysts theorize that in the violent murkiness that has overtaken the country, unsavory elements within the Somali government may be killing aid workers to discredit Islamist opposition groups and draw in UN peacekeepers, who may be the government's last hope for survival.
The government admits that it desperately needs peacekeepers. But it denies that it is killing aid workers to get them.
"It's obvious who's doing this," said Abdi Awaleh Jama, a Somali ambassador at large. "It's hard-liner Islamists who hate the West. They are forces of darkness, not forces of light."
UPDATE: Dirtballs with a profit motive?