While we might debate the appropriate penalty for stealing cell phones, I don’t think too many people would agree that it should cost you an arm and a leg:

London, England – Civil rights watchdog Amnesty International has called on the Somali Al-Shabab armed group not to carry out amputations on four men accused of stealing cellphones in Mogadishu.
The four men were sentenced on Monday to cross-amputation (amputation of the right hand and the left foot) by an ad-hoc court set up by Al-Shabab in their military camp in northern Mogadishu. They were accused of stealing mobile phones and pistols from Mogadishu residents.
An Al-Shabab spokesman told AP the sentence would be carried out but was delayed because of fears the men could bleed to death in the hot weather.
“We are appealing to Al-Shabab not to carry out these cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments,” said Tawanda Hondora, Amnesty International’s Africa Deputy Director. “These sentences were ordered by a sham Al-Shabab court with no due process or guarantees of fairness.”
The four men have allegedly admitted to the robbery, but were not represented by lawyers and are not allowed to appeal against their sentence, says Amnesty.
Al-Shabab factions and the Hisbul Islam armed group, headed by Sheikh Hassan Aweys, launched a military offensive against forces of the Transitional Federal Government, on 7 May 2009.
The armed opposition is in control of several districts of Mogadishu. An Al-Shabab-controlled coalition in the port city of Kismayo, southern Somalia, has carried out at least two amputations since the beginning of the year.
Islamist group al-Shabab, which literally means ‘the lads’ in Somali, is already on the United States’ list of foreign terrorist organisations. “Al-Shabab is a violent and brutal extremist group with a number of officials affiliated to al-Qaeda,” says the US State Department.

OK, let me start by saying that I am not a war blogger and I did not especially want to write this post, and I had only vaguely heard of this group before.
But I guess I should have paid more attention, because they appear to be operating right here in the United States. In nearby Minnesota, to be exact — although it’s barely reported:

September 16, 2009 — Earlier this week, U.S. Special Forces killed a man U.S. intelligence said was the link between an Islamic militia in Somalia and al-Qaida in Pakistan. But he also had a connection to the U.S. that has not been reported: He was a senior instructor for new al-Shabab recruits, including a handful of young Somali-Americans from Minneapolis.
When FBI agents capture a terrorism suspect, one of the first things they do is pull out mug shots so they can try to identify other possible members of al-Qaida. And that’s exactly what happened earlier this year — when some of the young Somali-Americans who trained in Somalia returned to Minneapolis.
Intelligence officials tell NPR that when agents flipped to a picture of one al-Qaida operative, several of the young men said they recognized him.
His name was Salah Ali Nabhan. He’s the man American commandos killed in a daylight raid in southern Somalia on Monday.
The Minneapolis boys said they recognized him because he had been one of their trainers in the camps in Somalia — on loan from al-Qaida to boost the training operations of a Somali militia called al-Shabab.
“Usually people like Nabhan are jacks of all trade,” said Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert at Georgetown University. “They are particularly skilled, as Nabhan was, in the fabrication of vehicular bombs, particularly ones used for suicide attacks.”

Hey wait, wait, wait! Before we get to suicide attacks, can someone please answer me a question?
What on earth are these people doing here in the United States? Does anyone remember this video showing Somali teenagers harassing a gay man for fun?

If their more radical brethren in Somalia want to impose Shariah law and amputate arms and legs, how long will they be content merely to harass Americans because of what they think they might be doing in bed?
This is still the United States, right? Do we really have to go out of our way to bring these people here? Does anyone screen them? The other day I went to a Wal-Mart and I saw two young girls (no more then ten) both of whom were wearing complete floor-length hiqabs, leaving only slits for their eyes. While it is constitutionally permissible to wear whatever you want in this country, I worry about the wisdom of bringing people to live here who think it’s appropriate for their children to demonstrate utter contempt for everyone. My fear is that we might not be limiting immigration to only those people who will make the best citizens.
Shouldn’t we be? It seems stupid not to.
Or is it “bigotry” not to want people who would destroy our freedom moving here?
Sorry to sound so bigoted, but I just don’t like to read that a terrorist group that cuts off people’s limbs is operating right here in the United States. It doesn’t help much to consider that the news about al-Shabab’s Minnesota connection comes at the same time I read that we need to send more forces to Afghanistan, or face ‘Mission Failure’:

“[A] perception that our resolve is uncertain makes Afghans reluctant to align with us against the insurgents.”

I’ve been seeing brand new “WAR IS NOT THE ANSWER” signs springing up lately here in Ann Arbor. This reminded me that even thought President Obama ran on a platform of fighting the war in Afghanistan, many of his followers disagree with that, and see it as analogous to Vietnam, in the same tired way that everything reminds them of what they did in the 1960s.
I remember the Vietnam War quite well, and I think these people are losing sight of the fact that there is a major difference between that war, and the current war. Neither the North Vietnamese Army nor the Vietcong had any interest in fighting Americans here in their own land. Vietnam was literally “over there.” So, even though our resolve was uncertain, Vietnamese combatants never came over here and waged war on Americans.
Unless you’re an absolute fool, September 11, 2001 showed that Afghanistan was not Vietnam.
I think events that are happening now are a warning that if we treat it like Vietnam it will be at our peril.