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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Open Source Seeds Hit the Market, Raise Awareness

First open source seeds include 29 new varieties of broccoli, celery, kale, quinoa and other vegetables and grains More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid