An Al Qaeda affiliate has seized control of uranium mines in Africa with the intent of supplying the material to Iran, according to a diplomatic letter from a top Somali official appealing to the U.S. for “immediate military assistance.”
The letter, reviewed by Fox News, was addressed to U.S. Ambassador to Somalia Stephen Schwartz. Somalia’s Ambassador to the U.S. Ahmed Awad confirmed to Fox News on Thursday that the letter “has indeed been issued” by Minister of Foreign Affairs Yusuf Garaad Omar, whose signature is on the document.
The Aug. 11-dated letter delivered an urgent warning to the U.S. that the al-Shabaab terror network has linked up with the regional ISIS faction and is “capturing territory” in the central part of the country.
‘Every day that passes without intervention provides America’s enemies with additional material for nuclear weapons.’– Letter from Somalia’s foreign minister to U.S. ambassador
“This issue can be summed up in a single word: uranium,” the letter said. “Al-Shabaab forces have captured critical surface exposed uranium deposits in the Galmudug region and are strip mining triuranium octoxide for transport to Iran.”
For the Trump administration, the warning represents yet another potential security threat, as the U.S. government simultaneously grapples with a nuclear standoff with North Korea, the prospect of a stalemate in Afghanistan and ISIS activity across the Middle East and North Africa.
But the letter said “now is not the time to look away,” urging the U.S. ambassador to consider the request for intelligence and military assistance.
“Only the United States has the capacity to identify and smash Al-Shabaab elements operating within our country. The time for surgical strikes and limited engagement has passed, as Somalia’s problems have metastasized into the World’s problems,” the letter said. “Every day that passes without intervention provides America’s enemies with additional material for nuclear weapons. There can be no doubt that global stability is at stake.”
The State Department would not comment on the diplomatic letter, but did not dispute its authenticity and referred Fox News to the government of Somalia. Iran was supposed to pull back on its nuclear program under the terms of the agreement struck with the Obama administration.
Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.
Jake Gibson is a producer working at the Fox News Washington bureau who covers politics, law enforcement and intelligence issues.