The BBC World Service asked me to comment October 4 on the massive suicide truck bombing in Mogadishu carried out by al-Shabaab.
I suggested that any organization determined to carry out asymmetrical attacks such as suicide bombings has an advantage. Al-Shabaab can continue such attacks until the Transitional Federal Government and the African Union forces become more capable in countering them. Suicide bombings are, however, a sign of al-Shabaab’s desperation not its strength. In this case, many of the victims were Somali students applying at the Ministry of Education for scholarships offered by the government of Turkey.
This bombing was similar to al-Shabaab’s suicide attack in 2009 during a graduation ceremony in Mogadishu that killed a number of students. These suicide attacks that kill many innocent people outrage most Somalis and will result in decreasing support for al-Shabaab.
When the BBC correspondent countered that these tactics have not diminished al-Shabaab’s ability to recruit more young people to its cause, I disagreed, arguing there is evidence that al-Shabaab is now experiencing difficulty recruiting new followers. In response to a question, I did not believe the most recent suicide bombing would change U.S. policy in Somalia.