Monday, September 23, 2013

Nairobi Mall Bombing

Westgate Mall/Wikipedia
The bombing of the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, by al-Shabaab has resulted in many requests for comment by radio and TV stations. USA Today also sought my reaction in a piece it published on 22 September 2013 titled "Expert: Weakened Terror Group Trying to Grab Headlines."

National Public Radio's Here and Now program interviewed me on 23 September 2013. It ran the story under the title "Former Ambassador: Kenya Attack Shows Al-Shabab's Weakness."

VOA ran an interview on 23 September 2013 titled "Nairobi Attack Tied to Kenyan Involvement in Somalia, Says a Former US Diplomat."  VOA ran another article on 24 September 2013 titled "Mall Attack Shows al-Shabab Still Potent Force."

George Washington Today ran a Q and A on al-Shabaab dated 25 September 2013 titled "GW Expert Answers Questions on Al-Shabaab."

A South Korean English-language radio program called "This Morning" carried a 13 minute interview with me on the Westgate Mall bombing.

My reaction to the significance of the bombing is surprise that it did not happen sooner. This is the first major al-Shabaab attack outside Somalia since the July 2010 terror attack against restaurants in Kampala, Uganda, that resulted in about 70 deaths of innocent civilians.

The attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi demonstrates that al-Shabaab has the organizational ability, training and commitment to attack a soft target and kill innocent people. But it also demonstrates that al-Shabaab has pursued this strategy because it has been pushed back in Somalia and is not capable of confronting professional African Union and Somali government military forces except for the occasional guerrilla attack and suicide bombing.