Somalia has been at war for nearly two decades, in a complex internal struggle. Now Islamist insurgents are battling the government which is backed by the Ethiopian military. The Somali government says the enemies are from Al Qaeda.
Those names quickly get the attention of this US, and this analyst says the Somali governments knows this and exaggerates the threat. It's believed Somalia has been operating on and off in Somalia for a decade. This military expert says the Al Qaeda in Somalia is probably similar to the group known as Al Qaeda in Iraq, that is, a home grown movement with ideological ties to the leadership in Afghanistan.
Most of the fighting today is between Islamists and the government and the Islamists are popular because they've brought a degree of stability amidst the chaos. The Islamists say they pose no threat to international security, but they do have radical elements and members.
This military expert says they don't pose a direct threat to the US and the West, but among all the East African countries, they have the highest potential to provide assistance to international terrorism. The year long insurgency in Somalia has killed around 7,000 people and starvation and desperation increases as the conflict goes on.