News / Africa

US Weighs Response to Kenya Mall Attack

US Weighs Response to Kenya Mall Attacki
X
October 04, 2013
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

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid