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Al-Shabab Still a Threat to AMISOM Countries

  • Marthe van der Wolf

Ugandan peacekeeping troops stand during a ceremony at Mogadishu airport in Somalia May 18, 2014. U.N.-backed peacekeepers pushed the Islamist fighters out of Mogadishu in 2011, but the al Qaida-linked group has continued to launch guerrilla-style attacks.

Ugandan peacekeeping troops stand during a ceremony at Mogadishu airport in Somalia May 18, 2014. U.N.-backed peacekeepers pushed the Islamist fighters out of Mogadishu in 2011, but the al Qaida-linked group has continued to launch guerrilla-style attacks.

AFRICOM, the United States Military command for Africa, believes that al-Shabab will continue to attack nations that contribute troops to the Somalia effort.

The commanding general of AFRICOM, David Rodriguez, said despite the fact that al-Shabab’s area of control has decreased in recent months, the militant group continues to be a threat.

“We think that they are going to continue to go after the troop contributing countries to try to disrupt and frustrate the populations of those countries," Rodriguez said, "so that the support to the AMISOM effort is limited from those nations. So what they want to do is get those nations out of Somalia and they are going to threaten them, they are going to go after their homelands to show and to demonstrate to the populations of those countries that it’s not worth the continued efforts to support AMISOM."

Kenya was attacked again by the militant group Friday when two car bombs were set off in its capital, Nairobi, and 10 people were killed. The attack came right after countries such as Britain and the United States had issued travel advisories for certain regions in Kenya because of security threats.

General Rodriguez said al-Shabab remains a threat to U.S. interests in the region and in Europe and has stated a wish to attack the U.S. mainland as well.

“The challenge is that al-Shabab is now really focusing on asymmetric attacks and they adjusted some of their strategy about a year ago by conducting the sensational terrorist type attacks,” Rodriguez explained.

Al-Shabab attacked a popular mall in Nairobi last September, killing 67 people and making world headlines for days.

General Rodriguez said the U.S. is training AMISOM troops before they go into Somalia to improve their capabilities. “And then we are working with each of the troop contributing nations to help them develop the capacities to mainly share information among all their agencies to get the best intelligence picture that they can get on the threats to their nations and their homelands,” he said.

AFRICOM also has a small team at the AMISOM headquarters to support the mission against al-Shabab.

Nations contributing troops to AMISOM are Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Burundi and Djibouti.
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