Somalia seeks U.S. help against al-Qaeda rebels aiding Iran

Here’s an ominous little piece of news that got drowned in all the flood coverage of Hurricane Harvey. It was uncovered by Fox News’ prodigious intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge.

It’s a letter from the foreign minister of Somalia, Yusuf Garaad Omar, to the U.S. Ambassador there, Stephen Schwartz. It warns that an al Qaeda affiliate, al-Shabab, has captured central areas of Somalia, a semi-arid country on the Horn of Africa that’s about 90% the size of Texas with about 57% of its 28 million population.

Somalia and its capital Mogadishu is probably most familiar to Americans as the actual site of the book and movie, “Black Hawk Down” by Mark Bowden.

In central Somalia, the letter states, the chronic rebels of al-Shabab are cooperating with ISIS supporters to strip-mine surface deposits of triuranium octoxide, a compound of uranium which in its  most common form is yellowcake. The rebels are shipping the compound — wait for it — to Iran.

Triuranium octoxide is used in the process of producing enriched uranium, a critical component for both civil nuclear power generation and — are you still waiting? — military nuclear weapons.

The foreign minister’s letter urged immediate U.S. military action to help quell the rebels and halt shipments of that uranium compound to Iran. “Every day that passes without intervention,” the Somali letter states, “provides America’s enemies with additional material for nuclear weapons.”

Under its nuclear agreement with the Obama administration, Iran is not supposed to be preparing nuclear weapons for now. And with its vast natural gas reserves, that country has built only two minor nuclear power plants.

While the U.S. does have Special Forces in the area, any large-scale military involvement seems most unlikely, given President Trump’s professed reluctance for more foreign military ventures. The State Department would not offer comment on Herridge’s story, but did not dispute it.

However, if verified, an Iranian hunt for such a uranium compound could become part of the administration’s evidence to justify pulling out of the nuclear pact. Every 90 days a U.S. administration must certify if Iran is abiding by the agreement’s rules.

Trump has called the Obama agreement one of the worst in history and is said to want to abandon the pact. So far, the State Department has issued the required certification with another due this fall.