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Nairobi mall attack - YES, it could happen here, Somali president warns

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
September 26th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The President of Somalia visited Washington D.C. and warned that the terrorist organization behind the mall attacks in Kenya could also strike at the United States.

WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - In an interview with the Daily Beast, Somali president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud warned that the terrorist organization al Shabab, was fast-moving and dangerous and that they could strike anywhere, even the United States.

The organization, he explained is filled with fighters from across Africa and Arabia and enjoys wide support from around the world.

"Al-Shabab is not a Somali agenda, it's an international agenda. Al-Shabab is working with an international capacity in terms of trading and financial resources," he told the Daily Beast. "Al-Shabab is more of an international problem than a Somali problem. It can happen here in the United States as it is now happening in Nairobi."

"In Shabab there are Kenyans, there are Ugandans, there are Ethiopians, there are Arabs. It is only true that they are headquartered in Somalia, but Shabab is not Somali," he continued.

The Daily Beast said that U.S. officials are playing down the threat from the organization, but at the same time security at places such as the Mall of America was increased.

According to all accounts, al Shabab is in retreat, being beaten back by Somali forces as well as a United Nations coalition of peacekeepers. That UN coalition includes Kenyans, ergo the motivation for their attack on a mall in Nairobi.

Mohamud explained, "The Shabab is losing ground and they are not in a position right now militarily to take new territories. They are on the run. But their threat is not yet finished. They have still training camps. They have bomb factories in very remote areas. Even if we defeat Shabab militarily completely, that's not the end of the war with Shabab. They will continue suicide bombs, roadside bombs; this will go on for some time."

Al Shabab is a militant Islamic movement dedicated to converting people to Islam by the sword. They have conducted operations in the Horn of Africa for some time. Those operations range from piracy to providing policing in more lawless areas of the region. Last year, they repeated a contest for children where they were asked to memorize Koranic verses. Students who did well were rewarded with an AK-47.

In addition to these activities, al Shabab also engages in various acts of terrorism. They also appear to be engaged in an internal conflict against other jihadists in the region and have moved to eliminate internal threats. Those moves have included the high profile assassinations of fellow terrorists including one American whose relationship with the organization recently soured.

Part of the problem is that the Somali government controls Mogadishu and other large urban centers, but has virtually no control in the rural parts of the country. This leaves them open to warlords and al Shabab.

Mohamud explained why al Shabab is so resilient. Shabab is an ideology, it's not a citizenship, it's not an ethnic group. And anyone who belongs to that ideology is an enemy of Somalia."

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