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Entries in al-Shabab (2)


US War on Terror Feature: Obama Continues Bush's "Extraordinary Renditions" (Whitlock)

The three European men with Somali roots were arrested on a murky pretext in August as they passed through the small African country of Djibouti. But the reason soon became clear when they were visited in their jail cells by a succession of American interrogators.

U.S. agents accused the men — two of them Swedes, the other a longtime resident of Britain — of supporting al-Shabab, an Islamist militia in Somalia that Washington considers a terrorist group. Two months after their arrest, the prisoners were secretly indicted by a federal grand jury in New York, then clandestinely taken into custody by the FBI and flown to the United States to face trial.

The secret arrests and detentions came to light Dec. 21 when the suspects made a brief appearance in a Brooklyn courtroom.

The men are the latest example of how the Obama administration has embraced rendition — the practice of holding and interrogating terrorism suspects in other countries without due process — despite widespread condemnation of the tactic in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

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President Obama's Wars: The US Steps Up Its Proxy Fight in Somalia

Civilians Flee Fighting in Northern Somalia (Photo: Abdi Warsameh, AP)The Obama administration is intensifying its campaign against an al-Qaeda affiliate in Somalia by boosting the number of proxy forces in the war-torn country, expanding drone operations and strengthening military partnerships throughout the region.

In many ways, the American role in the long-running conflict in Somalia is shaping up as the opposite of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: relatively inexpensive, with limited or hidden U.S. footprints.

While the White House has embraced the strategy as a model for dealing with failed states or places inherently hostile to an American presence, the indirect approach carries risks. Chief among them is a lack of control over the proxy forces from Uganda, Burundi and Somalia, as well as other regional partners that Washington has courted and financed in recent years.

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