Al-Shabaab breaks new ground with complex Nairobi attack
An image grab taken from AFP TV shows a member of the Kenyan security forces taking position inside a shopping mall following an attack by masked gunmen in Nairobi
September 23rd, 2013
07:12 AM ET

Al-Shabaab breaks new ground with complex Nairobi attack

By Paul Cruickshank and Tim Lister

The Al-Shabaab assault on a mall in Nairobi, Kenya, is alarming for its audacity, its scale and the sophisticated planning that went into it. Both the choice of target and method of attack exactly fit the new al Qaeda playbook.

Few counterterrorism experts are surprised that the Somali group launched another attack in the Kenyan capital. It has threatened to take revenge ever since Kenyan forces entered Al-Shabaab's heartland in southern Somalia. Small-scale attacks, frequently with hand grenades, have already brought bloodshed to Nairobi's streets. Back in September of last year, Kenyan authorities said they had disrupted a major plot to attack public spaces in Nairobi in its final stages of planning. Authorities also broke up a plot by the group against Western tourists in the city in late 2007.

But the scope of the assault on the Westgate Mall - and especially its eerie similarities to the attack in Mumbai, India, in 2008 - show that Al-Shabaab has taken its ability to strike outside Somalia to a new level.

Only once before has the group caused such carnage in East Africa, when bombers attacked bars and restaurants in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, on the night of the World Cup Final in 2010. More than 60 people were killed. Al-Shabaab said the attacks were in retaliation for Uganda's leading role in the African Union force supporting Somalia's weak government in Mogadishu.

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Filed under: Al-Shabaab • Kenya • Somalia
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Keegan Nunley

    The middle east is nothing but a basket case of burning oil, desert, dead babies, and angry people. exception maybe the Emirates. These radicals have bad gas, BO, and heartburn and want to take the world down with them. The world shouldn't put up with this behavior one bit. Sometimes a swift kick in the hind end is whats required. The punishment for being a terrorist of any kind out to be as grotesque as their behavior.

    September 24, 2013 at 8:28 pm | Reply
  2. USAPeasant

    I think Kenyan President Kenyatta put it best. Shabaab is a group of cowards plain and simple. The Cowards intentionally attack malls and civillians because they can only fight unarmed women and children. The Cowards are too incompetant to govern Somalia, and so they must go and attack innocent civillians in other countries. Shabaab is so cowardly that instead of putting their guns away and rebuilding Somalia, they go out and kill people and destroy their own homes like a pack of rabid wolves.

    If Shabaab were not cowardly they would be able to fight on their home turf. If Shabaab were not cowardly and incompetant they would be able to make civilization in Somalia peacefully instead of destroy their own homes violently. Shabaab is the poster child for why East Africa cannot progress, Shabaab is an icon and the embodiment of all of Africa's failures. I believe Africans want better and deserve better, but Shabaab tarnishes this image and does their utmost to keep Africa at the bottom through endless war, poverty, and terror.

    September 24, 2013 at 6:14 pm | Reply
  3. Jfjt Dutuyt

    So when is the next inflation of Vigins in the after life going to index...will it double...when will it long will the lie be when its a million virgins for every sucker who so much as polutes against the will of the $$$Profit$$$ mo-ham-did...

    September 23, 2013 at 8:44 pm | Reply
  4. Jfjt Dutuyt

    By that logic there are no virgins in the after life...

    September 23, 2013 at 8:39 pm | Reply
  5. Jfjt Dutuyt

    Why don't Muslims mind their own buisness...thats not a question...and it does not require another act of terror...words only please...thank You...

    September 23, 2013 at 7:10 pm | Reply
  6. George patton

    animals must be crushed, kenya, somalia, pakistan, afghanistan – or Syria, Iran.

    September 23, 2013 at 12:49 pm | Reply
    • George patton

      If the Kenyans minded their own business and stayed out of Somalia Phunnie boy, this attack would not have happened. Besides, who are you to call these people animals? The only true "animals" in this case reside in Washington, London and Paris!!!

      September 23, 2013 at 1:57 pm | Reply
      • njmass

        Animals would be the least offensive word I would use. I'm surprised they let the Muslims leave first. Killing other Muslims has never stopped these "animals" before.

        September 23, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
      • George patton

        Nooooo njmass, you don't understand selfish mindset of these animals; the reason they let them go because they did not want to stand in a line behind these people to claim 72 virgins; obviously, if they had killed them, they would have been ahead of them with claims !! They left them alive all for the selfish reasons.

        September 23, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
  7. Jfjt Dutuyt

    FIRST YOU SAY IT THEN THEY DO IT (MORE OR LESS) WHEN THEY GET AROUND TO IT OF COURSE IN THEIR OWN "TIME". Remember: we are now on the backside of the 911 season 2013. which has been very active...question is does this coraspond with any other event that is about to happen like in the U.N. today or is it just part of dent- heads order for AQ too 'just do something.' which was said around the begining of the Muslium month of (rom-a-dom) 2013.

    September 23, 2013 at 11:19 am | Reply
  8. Jfjt Dutuyt

    We all but knew this when things like this were written i.e. once Assad is gone a great new shinny mall the shape of the Osama bin laden family constructed sudo mecca stone fascade will rise from the rubble of the Muslium majority Shia held areas...UNDERSTAND? SEE HOW THAT WORKS...or doesn't work depending on what side of the fence your on...

    September 23, 2013 at 11:07 am | Reply
  9. andersonconsultings

    Reblogged this on eamailboxblog and commented:
    Al-Shabaab are the same like any radical Muslim group, they just don't like any non-Muslim, and they consider it to Jihad to kill any non-Muslim, strange enough we find the Obama administration supports those radical Muslim brotherhood in Egypt, and the rebels in Syria, both short, and long term, it will back fire on us.

    September 23, 2013 at 9:54 am | Reply
    • Nate Covington

      Funny, when the Egyptian Military threw out the MB from power the Obama Admin. didn't pull support or call it a coup. Seems to me your statement is inaccurate!

      September 23, 2013 at 6:12 pm | Reply

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