Al Qaeda’s branch in Somalia has issued specific new threats against Americans in East Africa and even the United States, U.S. commandos, counterterrorism officials and intelligence analysts say. Several ominous signs indicate that the Qaeda affiliate, al Shabaab, is seeking to expand its lethal mayhem well beyond its home base, and attack Americans wherever it can — threats that have prompted a recent flurry of American drone strikes in Somalia to snuff out the plotters. In recent months, two al Shabaab operatives have been arrested while taking flying lessons — one last summer in the Philippines and another more recently in an African country, intelligence officials say. Those arrests carried eerie echoes of the original Sept. 11 plotters, who trained to fly jetliners. Shabaab fighters are seeking to acquire Chinese-made, shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles, which could pose a deadly new risk to U.S. helicopters and other aircraft in Somalia.
SOURCE: THE NEW YORK TIMES