Increased Presence of Al-Shabaab Terrorists Along Somalia-Kenya Border: Consequences of Terrorists Strategic Logic


Throughout the month of September and October 2016 the Al-Qaeda branch in Somalia Harakat Al-Shabaab Mujahideen movement (HSM) increased its presence along the Somalia-Kenya border through heavy deployment of fighters. Terrorists strategic logic of suicide and killing civillians to achieve major poltical objectives is what Al-Shabaab is employing. Al-Shabaab hopes, by employing more attacks against army men, police, and the civillian, the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) will abandon their role in AMISOM and withdrawal from Somalia. In every sense, Al-Shabaab,  just like many other groups, has been consistent in its suicide terror campaign whose goal is to maintain self-determination of their community's homeland by compelling the enemy to withdrawal (circa increased suicide attacks against AMISOM troops in Somalia). Unfortunately, the Al-Qaeda affiliate forgets its already a sworn enemy of its community and neighboring Kenya. It's suicide mission along the border will be it's waterloo in Gedo and Juba regions.

Intelligence reports show increased presence of militants on strategic villages, particularly in areas with strategic and tactical advantage. The militants have also encouraged cooperation between locals in villages that may have been victim of AMISOM troop’s operations collateral damage and friendly fire. The objective is to outbid AMISOM troops.

Terrorism as a manifestation of conflict could be a historically persistent phenomena with roots in the past. This position sheds light on the strategic logic of the Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Shabaab. Alleged historical injustices, political and economic maligning of these regions, besides the military operations against the elements using these regions which is often misconstrued for profiling are the logics the terrorists are using to encourage cooperation with members of these vulnerable societies. However, there is no evidence of terrorism as a political system that worked. In fact, terror groups hardly last long and dont achieve political goals.

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Bands of Al-Shabaab militants armed with PKM machine guns, Rocket propelled grenade launchers, and AK-47 riffles are gradually settling in the local villages along the border; for example, a company size group of militants was under surveillance on 11th of October 2016 as it moved towards Damasa which is within the vicinity of Lafey sub-county in Kenya. The group later split into two, with one heading towards Lafey-Alungu area and the other one heading towards Damasa-Lafey area.

Analysis shows the terrorists are not only digging in to avoid the drought during the coming dryspell, but also escaping from KDF-AMISOM troops in Gedo and Juba regions. However, they are not simply taking cover, instead they are digging in for near-future attacks against the army, police, and civillians.

While the militants seem oblivious of the fact that the Kenyan intelligence service is aware of their movement and position, the logistical challenge of rapidly destroying their capability has forced rapid deployment of army troops to secure the border areas and preempt the threat posed by the group.

According to the security agencies in Kenya, the Al-Qaeda branch in Somalia Harakat Al-Shabaab Mujahideen movement (HSM) is leaving Gedo and Juba regions after losing to Kenya Army AMISOM contingent. This will allow army troops to conduct preemptive strikes along the border and decimate these small units of the militants. The agencies however warn, there is an increased risk of terrorism along the borderline regions. In Mandera, Garissa, and Wajir, Christians who are non-locals have been repeatedly attacked by the terror group with help of local cells.

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