Tuesday, April 14, 2009

US Congressman Fired Upon In Somalia? Hmm...

Many of you likely saw this tidbit hit the papaers yesterday in the aftermath of the heroic Navy Seals rescue of Captain Phillips:

Representative Donald M. Payne of New Jersey, the chairman of the House subcommittee on Africa, narrowly escaped a mortar attack on Monday as he was ending a visit to Mogadishu, Somalia’s bullet-ridden capital, that he undertook against the advice of the Obama administration.

The Shabab, an Islamist insurgent group vying for control of the country, later took responsibility for the attack, Reuters reported.

“We fired on the airport to target the so-called Democratic congressman sent by Obama,” said Sheik Hussein Ali, a spokesman for the Shabab. “Let him go back with the message of our strength and enmity towards the U.S. and its allies. No single group can claim control of Mogadishu, and Al Shabab will continue its attacks.”

When there's trouble a brewin', always look for that Jersey connection...

But what the hell was Payne doing in Somalia anyway? That's what Bob Ingle wants to know:

Payne, who is chairman of the House subcommittee on health and Africa, was there to discuss piracy and security and cooperation. Since Somalia hasn't had an effective government in 18 years, it's unclear what could be achieved by talks there. There doesn't appear to be anyone in control of the country.

I guess his subcommitte seat gives him cover for this trip, but who exactly was he talking to? The Times story simply refers to "Somali officials", but since there really is no such thing - it's a badland unlike many others in modern history - what did he expect to accomplish?

There's something strange about this little trip into hell Mr. Payne took - and maybe it's the Jersey in him, maybe it's the Jersey in me, but...I would not be suprised if there was a personal aspect to this trip, one that has not yet come to light...unless, of course, it is just the natural affinity one pirate has for another. Actually, the pirates of Somalia can learn a lot from the Congressional pirates of New Jersey.

Well, truth be told, the Congressman did accomplish something - getting innocent civilians maimed and likely killed by the mere fact of his presence:

Fortunately, Payne left unhurt. Others weren’t so lucky. Medina Hospital Administrator Ali Adde said 19 civilians, mostly women and children, were injured when the mortar shells landed in residential areas.

Next time, don't be a Payne, Congressman. Stay in Jersey, and just shake down the locals...

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