JOHANNESBURG – Somalia’s government has made an urgent request for “immediate military assistance” from the United States to prevent Islamist militants Al Shabaab from supplying uranium to Iran.
In a letter, Foreign Minister Yusuf Garaad says the militants have captured a region with uranium deposits and have been strip mining the components, the BBC reported on Monday.
According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Horn of Africa country has the potential for uranium, although the sector has yet to be developed.
Mogadishu’s claim, which has yet to be independently verified, has not been backed by any proof that Al Shabaab is working on mining uranium or has plans to send deposits to Iran.
Garaad’s letter also mistakenly describes Al Shabaab as being linked to the Islamic State (IS) when the group is actually affiliated with Al Qaeda.
It also says that the current problem is too big, even for the African Union forces based in Somalia.
The US media has confirmed that the State Department has received the letter but has yet to respond to the request.
Analysts suggest this letter is intended to attract a larger US military presence to Somalia where Al Shabaab is waging a violent campaign.