Somalia Considered One of the World's Most Dangerous Countries

July 7, 2008 - 8:14 PM

Nairobi, Kenya (CNSNews.com) - A report released by a UK-based business risk consultancy group Monday named Somalia as one of the most dangerous countries in the world.

The "Riskmap" report, by the Control Risks Group, placed Somalia, Burundi and Liberia in the "extreme" risk league; and Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Colombia in the "high" risk category.

The U.S., Canada and most of Western Europe were classified "low" risk, although London rated a "medium," along with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Thailand and others.

Meanwhile, U.S. concerns about terrorist activity in East Africa have been given weight by a United Nations report, which found that terrorists maintain training bases in Somalia.

The report, written by a panel of experts appointed by the U.N., said there had been "very recent attempts" by extremist groups to obtain explosives on the Mogadishu arms market and training in the use of explosives, for possible terror attacks in the region.

It also backed previous assertions by Western security authorities that last year's attacks against an Israeli-owned hotel in the coastal city of Mombasa, and the unsuccessful attempt to shoot down an Israeli passenger jet the same day, were planned in Somalia.

Suspects in the attacks had returned to Somalia and were hiding out there, training and planning for further strikes, the report said.

The document released last week is an assessment of the progress of the 1991 arms embargo on Somalia, a Horn of Africa nation that has had no stable administration for more than a decade.

Due to violations of that embargo, it said, "transnational terrorists have been able to obtain not only small arms, but also man-portable air defense systems, light anti-tank weapons and explosives."

The report is just the latest indication that terrorists have found East Africa a suitable area in which to operate.

A Kenya Police report leaked late last month said terrorists planned to bomb the new U.S. embassy in Kenya last June, using a light aircraft and a truck loaded with explosives.

The report was reportedly based on the interrogation of a terrorism suspect.

Washington, since May, has warned U.S. citizens to avoid travel to Kenya, and the embassy was briefly closed in June. The former U.S. Embassy was destroyed in a huge al Qaeda bomb attack in 1998.

Also last month, staff at an airport in neighboring Uganda received phone calls from people who said they planned to shoot down a Kenya Airways passenger jet before it could land there.

The episode was kept quiet at the time, but a senior official of the Uganda Airports Authority confirmed it last week.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said the call had been made just four minutes before the Kenyan aircraft departed from Nairobi.

Ugandan authorities had mobilized "a significant number of security forces" to comb the area around the airport and patrol the waters of adjacent Lake Victoria, before the aircraft was permitted to approach and land.

Although the Kenyan administration has taken a number of counter-terrorism measures, including setting up an anti-terrorism police unit and reforming the national intelligence agency, the U.S. and the U.N. have faulted Nairobi for not taking a more proactive approach to the problem.

The U.N. Security Committee said this week that despite having suffered two significant terrorist attacks in the last five years, Kenya was one of 58 nations that missed an Oct. 31 deadline for submitting reports on measures they are taking to stop supporting, financing and providing sanctuary to terrorists.

Last August, Kenya failed to meet another deadline, set by another U.N. committee, to report on its progress in tracking down terror activities.

Media commentators here have called the failures "shocking."

Security officials in Nairobi maintained that Kenya was "serious" about eliminating terrorism, and cited the expected introduction of anti-terrorism legislation.

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