UN report: Somalis fought Israel in Lebanon

Wednesday, November 15, 2006 |  by Staff Writer
A United Nations report has revealed that Hizballah received help from an unexpected source during the war this summer: A substantial number of experienced Somali fighters were brought to Lebanon in order to assist Hizballah in their fight against Israel.

The report, initially obtained by Reuters news agency, reveals that the 720 Somali rebel fighters arrived in Lebanon to participate in the fighting against Israel were selected by Afghanistan-trained hard-line Islamist commander Adan Hashi Farah "Ayro" and were paid $2,000 each to participate in the fighting. In case a fighter was killed, the report says, a lump sum of $30,000 was given to their families.

The report indicates that out of the 720 fighters, about 100 have returned to Somalia and the rest have remained in Lebanon for advanced training. There is no indication of how many Somali fighters were killed by Israeli forces during the war, although it was reported that a few wounded fighters returned to Somalia for treatment.

In exchange for the fighting force, the Somali Islamist alliance, a rebel group fighting for control in Somalia, received material support for its own struggle from both Syria and Iran, the report says. This support came in the form of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, grenade launchers, machine guns, ammunition, medicine, uniforms and other supplies. Additionally, Syria hosted about 200 Islamist fighters for training in guerrilla warfare.

The report also indicates that Iran may have sent weapons and other support to the Somali rebels in exchange for uranium, an essential raw material for their nuclear program and found in abundance in Africa.

The 86-page report was issued by four experts who examined violations of a UN arms embargo on Somalia in place since 1992, which was imposed as civil war broke out in the country. The report will be discussed Friday at the UN Security Council.

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