Somali Islamists extend olive branch to Washington

MOGADISHU: The supreme leader of SomaliaÍs Islamic courts union, which has seized control of Mogadishu from a US-backed warlord alliance, said on Wednesday he was ready to work with arch-foe the United States but demanded it respect the sovereignty of the African nation.

Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, a cleric designated a terrorist by the United States, for suspected links to Osama bin LadenÍs al-Qaeda network, also criticised Washington for supporting warlords in their battle with Islamic militia. ñWe are ready for partnership with the Americans.

We would like to work with them if they respect us and stop interfering with Somali internal affairs,î Aweys told AFP by telephone from central SomaliaÍs Galdudud region.

ñAmerica should know that all people are equal and that no one has a right to dictate policies to others, including how to administer a nation.

It is our right to impose the laws that we want to govern our country. If we follow Sharia law, it is not AmericaÍs problem,î added Aweys who is the head of the Somali Council of Islamic Courts (CIC).

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