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posted: 8/2/2011 11:12 AM

US relaxes terror rules to speed aid to Somalia

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Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- U.S. officials say aid groups can deliver food to famine-stricken parts of Somalia without fear of prosecution, even if some assistance is diverted to extremists.

Officials say the U.S. has issued new guidelines to reassure humanitarian organizations trying to airlift food into Somalia. Charities must pledge their best efforts to combat attempts by the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab group to hoard the aid or collect taxes.

The officials briefed reporters on condition of anonymity because details of the changes haven't been finalized.

Drought has left some 12 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia needing help.

Official famine zones are controlled by al-Shabab. That has challenged aid groups because of al-Shabab's hostility to them and the threat of American prosecution in cases of inadvertent support for a U.S.-designated terrorist body.