Islamicists seize Somali capitol
MOGADISHU, Somalia - An Islamic militia with alleged links to al-Qaida seized Somalia's capital Monday after weeks of fighting with U.S.-backed secular warlords, raising fears that the nation could fall under the sway of Osama bin Laden's terrorist organization.
Also, from the WaPo version.
The militia, whose membership transcends the clan lines that traditionally dominate Somali politics, appears to control a 65-mile radius around the capital.The group has gained ground as a U.N.-backed interim government struggles to assert control outside its base in Baidoa, 155 miles from Mogadishu.
The entire "Horn of Africa" region is spiralling downward right now with the problems in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, and Somalia. The US is operating a small force of military and intelligence officers out of Djibouti, but the trending right now is towards a failed region with Islamic militias carving out territories.
I don't think these groups could affect the level of control to shield Bin Laden, but if the states do go "lawless," there could well be a protected space for other members of Al Qaeda.