Aweys resurfaces to dispel claims of being wounded
Posted Monday, June 8 2009 at 17:57
- Reports on Sunday said Islamist leader had suffered serious injuries in clash
Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, the leader of Hizbu Islam has dismissed reports that he was seriously injured or even killed during a confrontation between followers of Ahlu Sunna wal-Jamea, a pro-government Islamic sect and opposition fighters.
At a press conference in an undisclosed location in Mogadishu on Monday, the Sheikh reiterated that he was fine in good health, calling the speculations ‘an enemy propaganda.’
Reports of Sheikh Aweys’ injuries and possibility of death has been a public interest since Saturday following deadly clashes between followers of Ahlu Sunna wal-Jamea against Al-Shabaab and Hizbu Islam fighters at Wabho village in Galgadud region, Central Somalia.
“News of my death is unfounded,” said Sheikh Aweys. “Every person is destined to die, but it will come the day sanctioned by Allah,” he added.
Sheikh Aweys repeated his call for the withdrawal of peacekeepers serving the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom). He called Amisom peacekeepers ‘the enemy of the Somali people.”
The radical groups
The Sheikh accused the international community under the auspices of the United Nations of siding with the government lead by President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and causing unnecessary interventions.
“Unless the Somali people are allowed to frame their own fate, we will never have sustainable peace in the country,” he said.
Al-Shabaab and Hizbu Islam fighters rejected the reconciliation proposed by the Transitional Federal Government.
Contrary to moderate Islamists, especially from the defunct Union of the Islamic Courts, who joined the TFG in January 2009, the radical groups rejected the option of reconciling with the government.
The two radical groups control most of Southern and Central Somalia. However, government forces, the Islamist militias that joined the TFG, Ahlu Sunna wal-Jamea loyalists and even the former warlords with the potential of controlling clan militias appear rallying behind President Sheikh Sharif’s government.
Sheikh Aweys once served as the spiritual and military leader of al-Ittihaad al-Islami, an Islamist organisation on US terrorist group watch lists.
Its aim is establishing an Islamic nation of all Somalis—including those in Kenya— ruled exclusively by Sharia law.
Ittihaad is believed to have supported the Al-Qaeda’s 1998 US embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and a suicide-bomb attack on the Paradise Hotel in Mombasa in 2002.
In February, 2006 on a Jihadist website, Sheikh Aweys is said to have authorised the use of suicide terrorism to attack targets in Ethiopia and Kenya.
However, the radical preacher has consistently denied any links to terrorism.
Sheikh Aweys is among top leaders of the group who are said to have established strong ties with other militant Islamist groups across the world.
The military wing