Al Shabaab is a terrorist group with it base in Somalia. Al Shabaab is Arabic for “The Youth” and is also known as Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen (HSM).
The Somali based Islamist group has been conducting terror campaigns in East Africa countries and primarily in Kenya and Somalia.
East Africa leaders in 2011 declared Al Shabaab as a regional threat. Kenya troops (Kenya Defence Forces) were the first to enter Somalia to pursue the militia group followed by Ethiopian army. This move of Kenya troops entering Somalia aggrieved the Al Shabaab triggering them to conduct retaliatory attacks.
Al Shabaab attacks in Kenya have increased. The militants’ claim the attacks are to avenge atrocities the Islamist group alleges has been committed by the Kenyan Government when Kenya Military were deployed in Somalia. The Islamist group claims they are fighting to liberate all the Muslim lands that include largely; North Eastern and the Coastal region.
Al Shabaab spokesman on 29 December 2011 vowed that the terror group will launch several retaliatory attacks on Kenyan soil unless the authority withdraw troops from Somalia, a threat that has come to pass with increasingly terror attacks along the porous Kenya-Somalia border.
Recent Al Shabaab Terror Attacks in Kenya
The Islamist group has claimed credit for several attacks on Kenyan soil since 2011. According to U.S. Embassy, 2011 – 2012, at least the group had 17 attacks that involved use of grenades and other improvised explosive devices. Nine of these attacks were conducted in North Eastern County in locations such as Wajir, Garissa and Dadaab. Four attacks were witnessed in Nairobi and four in Mombasa.
Al Shabaab targeted police stations and their vehicles, churches, religious gatherings, bars, downtown premises with small shops and also bus station.
In 2013, Al Shabaab was behind the Westgate shopping mall terror attack. The Westgate shopping mall shooting occurred on 21 September 2013 when a group of armed gunmen raided the shopping mall and started shooting at the customers indiscriminately. Over 80 people were reportedly killed from the attack leaving hundreds seriously injured. The attack was planned by British Jihadi Samantha Lewthwaite (White widow).
In 2014, Al Shabaab are believed to have carried attacks in Mandera County that claimed at least 64 lives. On 22nd November 2014, a group of gunmen raided a bus which was travelling from Mandera to Nairobi. The raid claimed 28 lives who were mostly Government workers, teachers heading for the December holidays. The Al Shabaab also claimed responsibility of 36 quarry workers who were attacked and killed near Mandera town, many were non-Muslims.
In 2015, Al Shabaab conducted another attack at Garissa University College. The April 2015, raid at Garissa University College was planned by Mohamed Kuno Aka Gamadheere who serves as Al-Shabaab’s Lower Juba Commander. The terrorist attack claimed almost 150 students and leaving hundreds with serious injuries. Al Shabaab claimed the responsibility terming the heinous act as retaliatory over non-Muslims occupying the Muslim lands.
In 2015 the Islamist group has tried several unsuccessful attacks especially on North Eastern Kenya. Recently the group’s spokesman – Sheikh Ali Dhere issued a warning to Christians to leave Muslim land in North Eastern and any other Muslim dominated areas.
The attack on Yumbis village in North Eastern was unsuccessful with Kenya launching counter-terrorism measures against the militant group. The Joint operations conducted in North Eastern Kenya have left dozens of Al Shabaab killed.
Al Shabaab outfit is slowly weakening due to several factors. Recently the group has been faced with several defections, the group is in serious food crisis and it is short of funds to finance its terrorism activities.