Nairobi, Kenya residents suffered a terrorist attack that began Sept. 22 when military-style gunmen picked off civilians in a shopping mall, and only ended four days later when the last hostages were rescued. At least 62 people were killed and more than 170 others wounded.
The attack was conducted by al-Shabab, a Somali militant organization with ties to al-Qaeda.
A Kenyan friend writes:
“About the terror attacks, we are all still processing what happened and feeling very vulnerable. They have promised more attacks against Kenyans. Many people feel that there should be more scrutiny of people of Somalia origin, but I don’t see how that will help. As the news media have been reporting, there were people from the U.K., Canada, and the U.S. involved in the attack. They come in all nationalities. Their common denominator is their version of Islam. I am afraid that this may fuel a religious backlash against Muslims.”
Al-Shabab announced that the action was in retaliation for Kenya’s contribution of troops to the U.N. mission in Somali, and it threatened more attacks if the troops do not withdraw. The U.N. occupied Somalia after Shabaab lost an insurgency campaign against an Ethiopian invasion that dislodged them from power. In 2010, in retaliation for Uganda’s contribution to U.N. troops in Somalia, al-Shabab blew up soccer fans in a Kampala stadium, killing 76 people.
Apparently, several of the Nairobi attackers were from the U.S. and elsewhere besides Somalia. Al-Shabab is an international network. This attack will surely cause many countries to harass their residents of Somali origin.
In 1998, the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed by an unknown group. The Nairobi explosion killed 247 Kenyans—that is 20 Kenyans for every American killed. People in Nairobi are still mourning those victims. Now there are more civilians to mourn.