British Muslims travelling to Somalia for "jihadi tourism": Wikileaks

Last Updated: Fri, Feb 04, 2011 06:10 hrs

Thousands of secret US diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks have revealed that British Muslims are travelling to Somalia for "jihadi tourism" to train for terrorist attacks in the UK.

According to the leaked cables, the information about rebels linked to the al-Qaeda worried the United Nations special envoy to Somalia to such an extent that he urged Washington to launch targeted strikes against extremists in the region, The Telegraph reports.

The paper quoted a cable dated January 2010 as saying that Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN Special Representative for Somalia, told US diplomats that the country was becoming "a terrorist incubator".

"We are facing a very serious threat by people with money and organisation," he said, adding that a "high number" of foreign fighters had joined the armed opposition, including American and British citizens.

"Stating that the threat is critical, Ould-Abdallah urged targeted operations on terrorists in Somalia," the documents said.

MI5 also believes that jihadists from the al-Shabaab movement in Somalia represent a significant threat to Britain. Jonathan Evans, the Director General of MI5, had publicly warned of the threat last year, the paper said.

The files said that Britain acknowledged "a growing likelihood" of attacks from radicalised British Somalis who had travelled to Somalia or Pakistan for "indoctrination and training," and returned back to carry out attacks in the country.

"There is also believed to be a certain amount of so-called 'jihadi tourism' to southern Somalia by UK citizens of Somali ethnicity," the cables added.

During 2008, US officials were reportedly disappointed with the failure of their British counterparts to grasp the scale of the problem. On December 4, US ambassador in London Robert Tuttle had told the State Department that the Foreign Office had opposed sending peacekeeping troops to Somalia on the grounds that "there is not enough peace to keep" in the country, the paper quoted the cables as revealing. (ANI)