MOGADISHU, Somalia -- There are few success stories here in this tortured country on the eastern coast of Africa. For nearly two decades, this drought-ravaged land and the long-suffering Somali people have been "off the radar" for most Americans. It might still be so if it were not for radical Islamist Somali terrorists -- al-Shabab -- and their financiers, the seagoing pirates who seize merchant vessels plying the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden. All of that is about to change.
Last week, as our two-man Fox News unit was en route, Ayman al-Zawahri, the Egyptian cleric who inherited Osama bin Laden's mantle as leader of al-Qaida, released a videotape declaring that al-Shabab is now formally part of the "global jihad" against the Western world. Zawahri's desperate bid for attention didn't do his Somali allies any favors. The announcement may well presage the demise of al-Shabab.
The brutal Somali terror group is now on the run. Remnants of the organization that once threatened to make Mogadishu its capital have fled west -- driven from the city by well-trained, disciplined Ugandan troops dispatched and supplied by the African Union. We accompanied them over terrain once trodden by U.S. Marines in the early 1990s and stained with the blood of American special operators who set out to capture the notorious warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid in 1993. The heroism and perseverance of those who made that effort were captured in the book and film "Black Hawk Down."
Unlike U.S. troops who fought here almost two decades ago, the African soldiers who freed this city and now provide security for its 2 million residents -- nearly half of whom are refugees displaced by drought, famine and violence -- receive few accolades in the Western media. They deserve better. Many of them are graduates of U.S. military schools and are applying "low-profile" counterinsurgency tactics the way they are meant to be practiced. One of their officers put it bluntly: "In the U.S., we were taught to learn from your mistakes."
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.
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