Merchant of Death
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Somalia's Jihadists Clarify Their Stance on the United States
For many months there was a debate inside the State Department and elsewhere in the policy community on how seriously to take the _jihadist_ threat from al-Shabaad al-Mujahideen Movement in Somalia, and whether the group was really linked to al Qaeda.

Ultimately, the group was designated by the Treasury Department as a terrorist entity in February.

This was the right decision, in my opinion. What I find interesting is how unable we often are to believe people when they say they want to kill us, even though they have a proven track record of doing so.

As my colleague Evan Kohlmann noted recently, the al Shabaad statement was in direct response to the Treasury designation.

As the document recently translated by the NEFA Foundation shows, the group is more than willing to answer the question for those who thought they may be the sort of group one could talk to.

Our lack of clarity towards groups who clearly state what they want-to eliminate us and all those like us-is not unusual. There is almost always a part of the policy community that wants to find a way to talk to those who may be misunderstood or who could potentially be our allies. Often, the goal is to make the United States a country that these people like instead of hate.

That is rational in many cases, but does not hold when dealing with radical Islamist groups. There is nothing to negotiate with them, as there was with the enemy in the Cold War or other wars fought over ideology. When the enemy embraces death, as the _jihadists_ do, and demand submission or surrender as the only alternatives, there is nothing to discuss.

So, when a group like this tells the _mujahideen_ not to listen to those "who wish to compromise between _jihad_ and pleasing America" and promises a campaign they call "Our Terrorism is Praiseworthy," there is no reason to think they do not mean it.

The group reiterates: ""We swear to Allah that... we will only repeat what our late Shaykh Abu Musab al-Zarqawi once said: ‘we will not compromise on our religion, we will not change the way of jihad, and will not be satisfied with compromises. Between us and the infidels, there is only the sword of Islam.'"

Can they carry out such a campaign? Not necessarily. But is it their dream that clearly puts them on the side of Salafist/jihadi struggle? Without a doubt. Is there any room to doubt or negotiate with them. Clearly not.

Designations are useful but limited tool dealing with foreign terrorist entities, primarily because few have any assets in the United States that can be taken under the asset freezing mechanism.

But it is clear that the move got the attention of the al-Shabaad leadership.

Whether the have the capacity to act as promised remains to be seen. What can no longer be in doubt is that the leadership views itself as part of the global _jihadist_ movement intent on restoring the caliphate and establishing Islamic rule, first in Somalia, then the rest of the world. There is no ambiguity there.

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