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Britain to Ban Somali Islamic Militant Group


The British government says it is banning the Somali militant group, al-Shabab and designating it a terrorist organization.

The British Home Office said the move to ban al-Shabab is necessary.

Al-Shabab is a militant Islamic group fighting for control of Somalia against the country's transitional government. The group has pledged its allegiance to al-Qaida and has vowed to set up a strict Islamic state in Somalia.

Recently trained Shebab fighters during military exercise in northern Mogadishu's Suqaholaha neighborhood (Jan 2010 file photo)

Recently trained Shebab fighters during military exercise in northern Mogadishu's Suqaholaha neighborhood (Jan 2010 file photo)

Roger Middleton is a Horn of Africa analyst with London's Chatham House research center. He tells VOA even though few reliable details are known about al-Shabab, its top leadership clearly talks about global jihad.

"They talk very much along those radical Islamist lines. It is not clear though whether the rank and file of al-Shabab fighters are actually not more concerned with nationalist issues within Somalia - taking control of Somalia from foreigners," he said.

There is growing concern the group is recruiting young men from Somali communities abroad to fight. That is a worry for Britain, which has one of the largest Somali communities in Europe.

It is something that has Somali communities in Britain, the United States and elsewhere concerned, says Middleton.

"There is a real worry that young are men are being recruited to fight in a war which they necessarily do not fully understand. Many of these people have been in the U.K. or the U.S. for really all their lives and going back and being used as a suicide bomber in Somalia - there is real concern within the Somali communities about that," said Middleton.

The British Home Office order to ban al-Shabab must now be approved by parliament. A ban would make membership in the group a criminal offense and would mean it could not lawfully raise money or conduct other activities on British soil.

The United States has already designated al-Shabab a terrorist organization.

In a related development, the president of Somalia's transitional government, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, is due in London and is expected to speak next week at Chatham House.

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