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Panel: Terrorists Use Somalia As Hub

Somalia has served as a transit point for international terrorists but its local militant groups appear to be less of a terrorist threat than feared, a U.N. panel said in a new report. The panel pointed to recent findings that material and explosives used in the November 2002 terrorist bombing in the Kenyan port of Mombasa were shipped through Somalia – and that terrorists were “easily able to transit through Somali territory on the way to their intended target.” Foreign terrorists apparently also used Somalia to get themselves and their weapons across the border into Kenya and then to Tanzania to bomb the U.S. embassies in both countries in 1998, they said. “The continuing lawlessness in Somalia, particularly where it prevails in the coastal areas, is a threat not only to Somalis but also to the international community,” the panel said in a 62-page report released this week. However, fears after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that Somalia could become a haven for international terrorists because of its lack of an effective central government “at present … appear unfounded,” the panel said. The report focused on violations of a 1992 U.N. arms embargo in the lawless Horn of Africa nation, but also addressed possible links to terrorism. Somalia’s U.N. ambassador scheduled a press conference Friday to respond to the findings. Full Story

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