News / Africa

US Weighs Response to Kenya Mall Attack

US Weighs Response to Kenya Mall Attacki
X
October 04, 2013 10:08 PM
The U.S. reaction to the attack by al-Shabab militants on a Kenyan mall has been cautious. The U.S. military, which has a small presence in Kenya, is reviewing its tactics and the work its teams are doing to train and equip Kenyan forces to go after the group. VOA Pentagon correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Luis Ramirez
The U.S. reaction to the attack by al-Shabab militants on a Kenyan mall has been cautious.  The U.S. military, which has a small presence in Kenya, is reviewing its tactics and the work its teams are doing to train and equip Kenyan forces to go after the group.

The attack on Nairobi's Westgate mall is seen as retaliation for strikes by Kenyan forces on al-Shabab targets in Somalia.

Now, the U.S. is weighing how to respond and possibly boost assistance to the Kenyan army.

Defense analyst Seth Jones, testifying before a U.S. congressional panel, told lawmakers the approach should not end up helping al-Shabab to recruit more fighters.

“I think one thing we've got to be careful about is we don't encourage the Kenyans to overreact, conduct overt attacks within Somalia," said Jones.

Observers say images of Kenyans attacking Somalis with U.S. help would help al-Shabab gain sympathy - especially among young Somalis.

The U.S. has announced no plans to boost its presence in Kenya beyond the 150 U.S. troops who are now there, helping Kenyan forces build their capacity.

Al-Shabab has lost much of its territory in Somalia, but analyst Katherine Zimmerman says the Nairobi attack shows the U.S. and its partners have much more work to do.  

“The strategy is working in parts but it's not going to work long-term.  It's been able to hold off the rise of al-Shabab enough to keep it from growing in East Africa, but what we've seen is a resurgence there," said Zimmerman.

The Kenyans' response to the mall attack showed deficiencies in professionalism and command-and-control capabilities.

Reports say some first responders to the mall attack were seen looting rather than rescuing victims.  And there are complaints of disorganized rescue efforts and heavy-handed tactics that resulted in victims' deaths.

Analyst Vanda Felbab-Brown says those types of tactical and technical issues should be easy for U.S. trainers to fix.

“In some ways, figuring how you knock down a door is far easier than figuring how you get broad intelligence.  And the fact that the Kenyans struggled even with this tactical bit so much shows the real paucity of capacity despite our training so far," said Felbab-Brown.

For now, U.S. officials consider al-Shabab a regional threat with no real capacity to hit U.S. territory.  However, memories of the 1998 U.S. embassy attacks in East Africa by al-Qaida - then also considered only a regional threat - are bolstering calls for closer attention and a strong - albeit low-key - U.S. response.

You May Like

Conflicts Engulf Christians in the Middle East

Research finds an increase in faith-based hostilities, and Christians are facing persecution in a growing number of countries in the region More

Chinese Americans: Don’t Call Us 'Model Minority'

Label points to collective achievement, but some say it triggers resentment, unrealistic expectations More

Iran Bolsters Surveillance of Phones, Internet

Does increased monitoring suggest the government is nervous? More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assaulti
X
Daniel Schearf
August 29, 2014 9:30 PM
After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.

AppleAndroid