Of all the many Islamist extremist movements in Africa, al-Shabab has consistently proven to be one of the most notoriously violent and difficult to eradicate. Facing a coalition of African Union soldiers (mostly of Kenyan origin) and Somali government soldiers that have been consistently gaining ground, the terrorist movement has perfected the art of fading away into the countryside where it holds power and launching swift and deadly attacks on a series of military and civilian targets both in Kenya and in Somalia. Now al-Shabab has refocused its efforts on Kenya in response to the country’s efforts to fight it and because of Kenyan air strikes that have been hammering al-Shabab locations over the past few weeks.
The most recent attack on Kenyan land resulted in the deaths of 36 non-Muslim workers who were murdered in their sleep at the quarry where they worked. In response to this most recent attack, along with all of the others, the Kenyan president, Uhuru Kenyatta, has fired Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku and accepted the resignation of police chief David Kimaiyo. While this might seem like a step in the wrong direction, most of the country actually hold those two partially responsible for the country’s inability to adequately fight and destroy al-Shabab. In another strong move in the right direction, Kenyatta has appointed former army general, Joseph Nkaissery, to the position of Interior Minister. With Nkaissery being both a member of the opposition as well as the Maasai community, Kenyatta is showing the country that he is truly inclusive and willing to look past ethnic and political differences in an attempt to unify the country and put an end to the terrorism.
The Kenyan war against al-Shabab truly picked up after the terrorists invaded Nairobi’s Westgate Mall in an internationally publicized incident which ended in the deaths of all 4 terrorist gunmen and 67 others. While Kenya had been active before, this truly galvanized the country and led to al-Shabab losing control of most Somali cities after Kenyan and Somali forces started to work together.
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