Al-Shabab, which is on Washington's list of terror groups, took over Baidoa late Monday, a day after Ethiopian troops who had been propping up the government ended their unpopular, two-year presence. Al-Shabab, which means "The Youth," has been gaining ground as Somalia's Western-backed government crumbles.Looks the wheel may still spin some more, but as in law, possession is 9/10 of something.
"We will establish an Islamic administration for the town, and appeal to residents to remain calm," al-Shabab spokesman Sheik Muktar Robow said.
Somalia is a Muslim country, but al-Shabab's strict interpretation of Islam has drawn fear and trepidation. In one case, the group stoned to death a 13-year-old girl for adultery even though her parents said she was a rape victim.
The takeover came as Somalia's parliament meets this week in neighboring Djibouti to elect a new president. It appears unlikely the lawmakers will be able to return to Baidoa, 155 miles (250 kilometers) southwest of the capital.
There was a brief firefight between the Islamists and government-allied militias, who soon fled, witnesses said.
Landing the Big One
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Will sharia law return to Somalia? Maybe. Al-Shabab is alleged to have taken power, as reported in Insurgents seize seat of Somalia's parliament: