Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 26th 2013 Contents B6
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, September 26, 2013
Despite threats by Somali Islamists
to carry out further attacks in the
country, Kenya will not withdraw its
troops from Somalia.
Islamists from the al-Shabab organ-
isation, said to be affiliated to al-Qaeda,
have claimed responsibility for the siege
in Nairobi which left 72 dead---including
five militants---and nearly 200 injured.
The crisis is the biggest security chal-
lenge yet to face President Uhuru Keny-
atta, who inherited concerns linked to
the spread of militant Islam when he
took power in April this year.
It is bound to have wide-ranging
social and financial ramifications for
Kenya, East Africa s biggest economy.
The Westgate attack marks an esca-
lation in attacks blamed on---and at
times claimed by---al-Shabab.
More than 30 people have been killed
in a string of bomb and grenade attacks
that began after Kenya sent troops into
Somalia to hunt them down in October
Kenyan authorities had accused the
Islamists of a series of kidnappings
inside Kenya, which threatened to neg-
atively affect one of its major foreign
In the wake of what is seen as ret-
ribution by al-Shabab and their sym-
pathisers across Kenya, security was
increased in tower blocks in Nairobi,
churches in the countryside and even
on public transport.
But that did not last long, and as
attacks decreased, so did vigilance.
By the time of the Westgate siege,
security checks had become perfunc-
Some observers say that any serious
attacker could easily bypass the random
checks at the entrances of the shopping
This is only now likely to change as
Kenyan authorities scramble to deal
with the consequences of the attack.
In the aftermath, a number of sce-
narios are starting to emerge.
The attack is likely to embolden
Islamist and al-Shabab sympathisers
to widen attacks, possibly even beyond
"No doubt the al-Qaeda and al-
Shabab types will try similar attacks,
especially in the East Africa region,"
said Prof Korwa Adar, who teaches
international relations at the United
States International University (USIU)
"Every country in the region should
now take precautions."
It is believed that one of the reasons
for the attacks is to stir anti-Somali
and anti-Islam sentiment in the mainly
Christian nation of Kenya, and possibly
cause a backlash similar to one which
led to violence in 2011.
Then there were concerted efforts
by local leaders and religious groups to
foster religious and social harmony.
In the wake of the Westgate siege,
some Muslims and Somalis have come
forward to denounce the attack.
They have been seen donating blood
in tents set up for the drive.
President Kenyatta and opposition
leader Raila Odinga jointly addressed
the nation on Sunday in a show of
"I call on Kenyans to stand coura-
geous and united. Let us not sacrifice
our values and dignity to appease cow-
ards," Mr Kenyatta said.
"Let us continue to wage a relentless
moral war," he said.
Mr Odinga asked Western govern-
ments not to issue travel advisories dis-
couraging foreign visitors.
Tourism is one of Kenya s major for-
eign exchange earners. The country s
safaris and sandy Indian Ocean beaches
attract more than 1.8 million tourists
The head of the Kenyan Tourism
Board, Muriithi Ndegwa, said the fact
that a major international conference
on tourism got under way this week
as planned showed the "resilience of
It also showed confidence in Kenya
"as a safe destination" and that West-
gate was an "isolated incident", he said.
Further attacks could affect foreign
investment, says East Africa analyst
Meanwhile, an editorial in Kenya s
Standard newspaper has warned that
withdrawing Kenya s troops from
Somalia would "embolden [al-Shabab]
to stage more attacks".
Still, difficult questions about
whether the country should rethink its
security are now being asked.
A huge part of Kenya s security is
handled by private contractors, which
employ low-paid workers who have
limited contact with the state security
Some members of the National
Assembly have called for the overhaul
of intelligence and immigration depart-
ments, blaming their laxity for allowing
militants to enter the country.
Kenya and neighbouring Ethiopia are
regarded as key allies of the West in
the region, and are considered the major
bulwarks in stopping the spread of ter-
Israel, the UK and the US have a long
history of sharing intelligence and
counter-terrorism information with
That co-operation increased after
the 1998 US embassy bombing in
Nairobi, in which more than 200 people
Following the Westgate attack, these
countries will have to review and
improve this co-operation with Kenya s
security service to deter terror attacks.
But a key question is how Kenya will
now define what constitutes effective
Kenya's balancing act after Westgate attack
1998: US embassy in Nairobi
bombed, killing 224 people---one of
al-Qaeda's first international attacks
2002: Attack on Israeli-owned hotel
near Mombasa kills ten Kenyans.
Simultaneous rocket attack on an
Israeli airliner fails
2011: Suspected al-Shabab militants
raid Kenyan coastal resorts and a
refugee camp, targeting and
2011: Kenya sends troops into
Somalia to tackle al-Shabab
2011-13: Numerous grenade attacks
near Somali border and in Nairobi
Security officers help a wounded woman outside the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, after gunmen opened
fire and threw grenades on September 21. AP PHOTO
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