A Somali Islamist commander, thought to be Al Qaedaâ€™s man in Mogadishu, has ordered his fighters to attack African Union (AU) peacekeepers in rare taped comments intended to bolster an anti-government insurgency.Somali websites that posted the 20-minute recording named the speaker as Aden Hashi Ayro, who has been in hiding since his Sharia Courts group was ousted from its southern strongholds by joint Somali-Ethiopian forces in January.
One of a group targeted by a US air strike that month, the fighter urged Somalis to wage war on foreign troops and accused Uganda of invading by sending 1,700 peacekeepers to Somalia- the vanguard of a planned 8,000-strong AU force.
â€œLike Ethiopia, Uganda also invaded our country. We will fight and assassinate their officers. All other African troops sent to Somalia will face the same fate,â€ he said on the tape, the authenticity of which could not be independently verified.
â€œWe promise as long as we are alive we will continue the jihad.â€ Uganda said it was not deterred by Ayroâ€™s threats, which surfaced as Burundi prepared to deploy hundreds of troops to the Horn of Africa nation where has ruled for 16 years.
â€œIt does not change anything,â€ said Ugandaâ€™s army spokesman, Major Felix Kulayigye. â€œIf anything, we expected to receive threats against us.â€
â€˜Beheaded our childrenâ€™
Ayro, who security and intelligence sources say trained in assassination and insurgency tactics in Afghanistan in the late 1990s, vowed to take the fighting to the Ethiopian capital.
â€œThey beheaded our children, women and elderly people in Mogadishu and we must behead theirs in Addis Ababa,â€ he said.
Security experts and diplomats say Ayro, in his 30s, has provided shelter and weapons to Al Qaeda members in Mogadishu.
He prefaced his message with a greeting to all Mujahadeen groups and Al Qaeda leader Osama Ben Laden.
Somaliaâ€™s interim government accuses Ayroâ€™s Al Shabab armed group of leading the insurgency in Mogadishu, where battles this year have killed thousands and uprooted hundreds of thousands more, triggering what a UN envoy called Africaâ€™s worst humanitarian crisis.
Staging roadside ings and political s, the rebels are increasingly borrowing tactics from jihadists in Iraq.
â€œMy only word to Al Shabab… is they should lay down their arms. Thatâ€™s what the majority of Somalis want,â€ Kulayigye said.
Despite securing the airport, seaport and presidential palace, along with a few roads and clinics, the Ugandans have otherwise been unable to do much to quell the .
Analysts say Kampalaâ€™s mandate to defend the countryâ€™s Ethiopian-backed Transitional Federal Government means it is seen as partisan by many Somalis.
â€œWe canâ€™t be partisan. We have not been involved in the fighting,â€ Kulayigye said. â€œWeâ€™ve done whatâ€™s within our mandate and thereâ€™s nothing more we can do.â€