al Qaeda Video Targets UN in Somalia; Somali UNHCR Chief Missing

Early yesterday morning the press caught glimpse of a new video in which a known al Qaeda associate calls for attacks on the United Nations in Somalia. In a separate incident, the local Somali head of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, Hassan Mohamed Ali, was abducted from his home Saturday evening by masked gunmen.

It would be pure speculation to say the two incidents are related. That said, it would not be unreasonable conjecture. Al Qaeda has targeted the United Nations before. In December 2007, suicide bombers detonated twin bombs outside two UN offices in Algiers, killing 17 UN workers. And of course there was the bombing of the United Nations compound in Iraq in August 2003, which killed the diplomat Sergio Vieira de Mello and 21 others.

Regardless of whether or not these incidents are linked they are very disturbing developments, and timed to undermine a recently brokered ceasefire between Somalia’s warring factions. We will stay on this story.