News / Africa

Nairobi Attack Reveals Al-Qaida’s Influence in Horn of Africa

Nairobi Attack Reveals Al-Qaida’s Influence in Horn of Africai
X
September 24, 2013 9:47 PM
The attack by al-Shabab militants on Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall has raised fears that the group is broadening its aim beyond winning control of its homeland, Somalia. Security analysts say al-Shabab has morphed from a regional militant group to a terrorist organization closely aligned with al-Qaida. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Henry Ridgwell
The attack by al-Shabab militants on Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall has raised fears that the group is broadening its aim beyond winning control of its homeland, Somalia.  Security analysts say al-Shabab has morphed from a regional militant group to a terrorist organization closely aligned with al-Qaida.

Al-Shabab released a photo Tuesday, which they say shows militants from the group inside Nairobi’s Westgate mall. It’s not clear when it was taken.
 
The choice of a ‘soft target’ is a hallmark of the group, says Sajjan Gohel, security director at analyst group the Asia Pacific Foundation in London.
 
“The chances of inflicting maximum damage are more likely.  It also precipitates the fear factor because terrorism becomes visualized.  The chances are it’s being recorded; with new media people can even film events.  That is the oxygen of publicity for the terrorist groups and for al-Shabab in particular, this fit into their agenda,” said Gohel.
 
Al-Shabab says it carried out the attack as revenge for the presence of 4,000 Kenyan troops in Somalia, who are fighting the militants under the African Union banner.
 
The group carried out a suicide bombing in the Ugandan capital Kampala in 2010, killing 76 people.  Uganda also has thousands of troops in Somalia.
 
Al-Shabab’s primary aim is still regaining control of Somalia - but they also have their sights set on attacking the West, says Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens of the International Center for the Study of Radicalization at Kings College London.
 
“Their main way of doing this is fighting the insurgency and also striking the countries that are involved in the mission to remove them from Somalia. This includes Kenya and Uganda.  So Kenya and Uganda are really at the top of their list as targets but also below that, especially for the global jihadist element of al-Shabab, there is also the desire to hit out at what they see as the real puppet masters of this whole thing, which is America and Israel, who they believe Kenya and Uganda are acting as proxies for,” said Meleagrou-Hitchens.
 
The targeting of non-Muslims in the latest attack suggests al-Shabab is increasingly rooted in the ideology of al-Qaida, says Gohel.
 
“What we’ve seen in the last couple of years is an internal conflict emerge within al-Shabab where a core leadership has now aligned themselves ideologically with al-Qaida central, now led by Ayman al-Zawahiri.  And it’s that element that has carried out this particular attack, or that is what is believed to be the case,” said Gohel.
 
Kenyan authorities - and foreign intelligence services - will aim to uncover more about the ideology and international links once the attackers are identified.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid