Wednesday, May 03, 2006

In the Media

In the Media: "In an earlier commentary in this series, I lamented the fact that, despite clear and substantial evidence of terrorist activities, Sub-Saharan Africa remains largely ignored by both policymakers and scholars when it comes to threat assessment and resource allocation in the global war on terror.

This omission becomes even more egregious when one takes stock of another element in the strategic calculus: that there are direct linkages between radical groups and individuals in the terror wars' main theatre, the Greater Middle East, and the conflicts that have wracked the African continent in recent decades.

To the extent it is known in the West, the Sierra Leonean civil war (1991-2002) is remembered for its brutal limb-amputating rebels from the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and its financing through the traffic in so-called 'conflict diamonds.'

Less well-known is that much of this illicit trade-before, during, and after the open conflict-was controlled by members the West African country's Lebanese Shi'a Muslim community. Following the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, the Sierra Leonean Lebanese Shi'a community actively supported the Amal militia, one of the armed groups used by the late Syrian President Hafez al-Assad to drive the U.S.-led multinational peacekeeping force from Beirut as well as to undermine the Lebanese government. In fact, Amal's leader, Nabih Berri, currently speaker of the Lebanese National Assembly, was born in Sierra Leone."

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