Thoughts on Distant Lands and Friends

Blog Post
It’s difficult for me to care about Somalia. I’m sure that God cares. Though some say that it’s the land that God forgot.
Suicide truck bomb kills at least 276 people
The worst suicide bombing attack in the history of the fight against Al Shaba’ab occurred in Mogadishu on 14 October. News services reported at least 300 people were injured. 
Back to the truck bombing in a moment, but there is a back story as to how and why I feel about Somalia as I do.
John S. is a good, close, personal friend of mine. We worked together in Greece and Italy. His story appeared in the Washington Post. He was shot three times with an AK-47 during the whole Blackhawk Down debacle. The CIA refused his claim for medical retirement, largely because they didn’t want to acknowledge that they had case officers in Mogadishu…typical. They’d rather that he rot without a pension than confess that they had a CIA Station (such as it was – read the article) in Somalia.
“…There to meet him was his deputy, Spinelli, 46, a former New York City police detective. He was a solid man with dark hair and a long, thin nose, a native Roman who had immigrated to Brooklyn with his family when he was 12. Only a week before, Spinelli had been torn from a plum assignment in the CIA’s Rome station and sent to Somalia. He knew nothing about Africa, but he spoke Italian, and the Italians in the U.N. peacekeeping force weren’t getting along with their American counterparts. 
“When Spinelli took Jones to the CIA station, the new chief’s jaw dropped: It consisted of two windblown rooms in the vandalized former residence of the U.S. ambassador. Only one room had a door. Spinelli told him they had no business being in the middle of this war zone, trying to meet secretly with agents in a city where they couldn’t drive down the street without getting shot at.”

Back to the truck bomb…

The truck driver passed through at least five check points without getting stopped and searched at the sixth check point near a hotel down the street from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the truck was stopped, but sped away and detonated before it could be searched. The truck exploded near a fuel tanker that also exploded.
This bombing occurred in the most densely populated area of Mogadishu. This blast attests to major security failings and to the existence of significant support for al-Shaba’ab. 
The last suicide car/truck bomb in Mogadishu killed 10 people in July. After a lull, terrorist groups regularly stage a sensational attack to demonstrate their continued vitality. 
Some 20,000 soldiers from the African Union serve as peacekeepers in Somalia. Security has improved, but this attack shows that Al Shaba’ab retains significant support in the countryside among some Somali clans.
And in North Korea
South Korean and US intelligence agencies have published warnings that North Korea is preparing more long-range ballistic missile launches. 
According to an official source on Friday, 13 October, a US satellite detected North Korean ballistic missiles mounted on transporter-launchers as they moved to areas near Pyongyang and in North Pyongan Province. 
North Korea can track US imaging satellites and is aware of their window of access to North Korea. North Koreans also are experts at concealment.
If imaging satellites detect missiles during movement, it is because the North Korean leadership wants them to be seen to send a message to its enemies. The message is that North Korean opposition to Allied exercises (which will soon begin) is serious and that North Korea can launch missiles with little warning.

14 thoughts on “Thoughts on Distant Lands and Friends

  1. Last I heard, Jones was tending his roses in Oregon. John's story (expanded from the report in the Post) is not one that I'll comment on in a blog or an e-mail. Suffice to say that he suffered and continues to suffer from his injuries but lives a normal life.

  2. Can’t we afford to have a surveillance satellite parked in geostationary (geosynchronous?) position over the Norks? Seems like it might be worth it these days. Or would that be considered an ‘act of aggression’?

  3. As long as no Americans were killed, I don't see anything wrong with the truck bomb. 500 less we have to worry about.

  4. Sad what the government does to hide stuff from Americans.

    Too bad we don't have an operable SR-71. They could get intel whenever they wanted.

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