ABOVE PHOTO: In this video image released by the Kenyan Defence Forces and made available by Citizen TV Friday Oct. 4 2013, men carrying automatic weapons
and carrying bags are seen in the storeroom of the Nakumatt shop during the four-day-long siege at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi Kenya which killed more
than 60 people last month. A Kenyan military spokesman has confirmed the names of four attackers as Abu Baara al-Sudani, Omar Nabhan (right), Khattab
al-Kene and Umayr.
(AP Photo/ Kenyan Defence forces via Citizen TV)
By Ramy Srour
In the aftermath of the worst terror attack in East Africa in three years, foreign policy scholars here are urging the U.S. government to rethink its
counterterrorism policy in the region.
Many are suggesting that the Somali Al Shabab militant organisation, reportedly linked to Al-Qaeda, may be stronger and better organised than previously
James Jennings, president of the humanitarian aid group Conscience International, commented: “The terrorist attack at Nairobi’s Westgate shopping centre
was evidently a retaliation by Al Shabab for the Kenyan military presence in Somalia since October 2011, and a deliberate signal that they are still a
force to be reckoned with.”
“It represents a continuation of the violence that has swirled throughout East Africa in the wake of the disintegration of Somalia, a war now increasingly
being exported across the region’s borders.”
Vanda Felbab-Brown, an expert on non-traditional security threats at the Brookings Institution, observed: “Current U.S. counter-terror strategy in the
region has focused primarily on targeted attacks against Al Shabab, while it should have addressed the structural causes of their radicalization,”
High unemployment, a weak Somali economy and widespread corruption as the main reasons behind the radicalisation of youths that have joined Al Shabab, she
said. U.S. counter-terror efforts have devoted little or no attention to these issues.
The U.S. government delivered a total of 445 million dollars in security aid to Somalia between 2008 and 2011, almost 50 percent of total U.S. aid to the
country during that period. What seems to be missing from the U.S. strategy, Felbab-Brown says, is “a real effort to improve the Somali economy and urge
the government to foster a broader political inclusion of these youth”.