Mogadishu, Somalia The radical cleric named to lead the Muslim militia controlling most of Somalia's south said Monday that he envisions an Islamic state, a stand likely to reinforce U.S. fears the nation could become a haven for extremists.
Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, who already was on the U.S. terrorist watch list as a suspected collaborator with al-Qaida, made the comment while discussing efforts to form a functioning central government in Somalia for the first time in 15 years.
The militia defeated an alliance of U.S.-backed secular warlords this month to take control of the Somali capital, Mogadishu, and now holds sway over much of southern Somalia. Aweys' stance could put Somalia on a collision course with the United States and the United Nations. The previous militia leader, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, had been reaching out to the West and Somalia's largely powerless U.N.-backed interim government.