In Nairobi, Kenya the fighting with Somali al Shabaab gunmen in a mall is over, and it’s still unclear how many civilians and terrorists were killed. The mall was largely destroyed and many shop owners complain of their goods and furnishings being looted. Soldiers and police are believed responsible for that. Police from the United States, Israel, Canada, Britain, and Germany have arrived to help in the investigation but are having a hard time getting much information from the Kenyans. Some of the security video from the mall has been recovered, but so far that only shows four armed men entering the mall and then calmly moving through the place shooting people. The violence continued for the next three days and over 60 civilians were killed, along with 3 soldiers and 3 policemen. The security forces claim to have killed 5 hostile gunmen but apparently do not have the bodies. Some of the security forces casualties may have been caused by friendly fire, as the situation inside the mall was pretty chaotic in the hours after the police and army showed up.
The military used explosives to deal with what were believed to be diehard terrorists in areas of the mall who could not be reached by gunfire. This collapsed part of the mall and some bodies are believed to be in the rubble. Not all the bodies found so far have been identified and some may turn out to be the attackers. Islamic terrorists often make suicide attacks like this, usually inside military bases where the response is violent and the attackers usually fight to the death. Al Shabaab says over a hundred civilians were killed. Kenya has arrested dozens of people believed to have been involved with aiding the attackers and there is growing public anger at Somalis inside Kenya.
Many foreign nations are also offering more help to Somalia, including intelligence, commandoes, and training for Somali troops. There are still several thousand armed al Shabaab men in Somalia and most are staying away from peacekeepers and Somali troops. Al Shabaab is more interested in raising cash as the group is broke following its expulsion from Mogadishu and Kismayo over the last two years. There are fewer opportunities to kidnap foreigners and the pirates, who used to share ransoms with al Shabaab, have not taken a ransomable ship in over a year. In short, al Shabaab needs money.
Al Shabaab is believed to be seeking cash from wealthy Arabs in Arabia who like to donate to Islamic charities that support Islamic radicalism. Oil rich Arab countries and their Western allies have been trying to stop this source of terrorist funding but have only been able to reduce it. The money still gets through to Islamic terror groups that have a lot of media coverage. For that reason, it is believed al Shabaab will try to carry out more attacks outside Somalia. This is easier now because a recent power struggle within the organization has left the “Foreign” faction in charge. For years al Shabaab had been divided as the “Somalia” faction opposed the foreign volunteers who pushed for more efforts to carry out terrorism outside Somalia. The Somalia faction wanted to hold off on this until they had all of Somalia under their control. But the Foreign faction believed that would take too long, especially once the foreign terrorists came to understand how fragmented Somalia was by clan and warlord politics. The foreigners concluded that Somalia would never be united, because it had never been united (for long) in the past. This is something most Somalis do not want to dwell on. Meanwhile, in the past year many prominent al Shabaab Somalia faction leaders were killed or driven away from al Shabaab, which now sees itself as an international terrorist organization. Thus the eagerness of American, Israeli, British, and other European countries to help destroy al Shabaab in Somalia once and for all. As long as al Shabaab survives in Somalia the organization can reach out to Somali communities in other countries, especially the West, for donations and new recruits.
Al Shabaab has been particularly active on the Internet since the mall attack, making all manner of claims and threats. At the same time al Shabaab has been quiet in Somalia for the last two weeks. All their activity seems to be concentrated in Kenya, where al Shabaab gunmen attacked a mall in Nairobi on the 21st and were not chased out until three days later. There were also two small al Shabaab attacks on Kenyan border towns. All three of these attacks may have involved fewer than ten men. Al Shabaab makes much of its justification in making these external attacks, insisting it is only doing so because Kenyan troops invaded southern Somali two years ago. What al Shabaab does not dwell on is the fact that Kenya went into Somalia only after years of growing al Shabaab violence on the border, with an increasing number of al Shabaab men crossing the border and robbing or killing Kenyans, as well as Somalis in refugee camps near the border. There was always a lot of Kenyan public opposition to getting involved inside Somalia, but that changed as the number of Kenyan victims to Somali, especially al Shabaab violence, increased. Al Shabaab also ignores the fact that Somalis have been raiding into what is now Kenya for centuries. Al Shabaab is not the victim here, but the Somalis know that there are benefits to successfully pretending to be one. Meanwhile, the Kenyans are getting tired of constantly being attacked and are less reluctant to fight back. For Islamic terrorists that sort of thing is just another form of infidel (non-Moslem) oppression and proof that the West is making war on the Islamic world.
The loss of Kismayo last year was a major blow to al Shabaab finances because that port could be used to smuggle illegal goods (especially ivory) out of the country. Al Shabaab also collected fees on anything leaving or entering via Kismayo. Now al Shabaab has limited, and irregular, access to smaller ports on the coast. The loss of income led to many desertions and the inability to make attacks.
October 1, 2013: Kenya repeated assurances that it would keep its troops in Somalia and urged Somalia to do more to crush al Shabaab within Somalia.
September 28, 2013: Somaliland police again arrested a Moslem cleric (Sheikh Mohamud Abdullahi Gelle) for supporting Islamic terrorists. Gelle has been arrested before, in part because of his support for al Shabaab.
September 26, 2013: Al Shabaab gunmen attacked the Kenyan border town of Mandera, killing two policemen, wounding three others, and destroying eleven vehicles with gunfire and grenades.
September 25, 2013: An al Shabaab gunman attacked the Kenyan border town of Wajir, killing one person and wounding four others.
September 24, 2013: Kenya declared the siege of the mall in Nairobi was over and that security forces were in control of the entire structure. The mall is now being scoured for evidence.