Pressure piles on Obama to strike Al-Shabaab
Some lawmakers and analysts in the United States are urging President Obama to launch strikes against al-Shabaab with the aim of preventing more terror attacks in Kenya and possibly the United States.
”We’re talking about very significant terrorist groups here which are showing a capacity to attack outside of their borders and actually recruit people from here in the United States,” Republican Congressman Peter King, a member of the House of Representatives’ Intelligence Committee, said on US television on Sunday.
“They’re not on the decline,” added Senator Tom Coburn, the top Republican on the Homeland Security Committee. ”They’re on the rise, as you can see from Nairobi.”
US counter-terrorism officials warn that Shabaab’s sophistication and reach are increasing due to connections the Somalia group has made with al-Qa’ida forces in Yemen and with Boko Haram militants in Nigeria.
Some US officials have “warned that the Shabaab could be signaling a wider offensive, particularly within Kenya,” the New York Times reported on Monday.
Shabaab is using its enhanced abilities to “punish Kenya on its own soil, mostly for its role within Somalia, but also, to some degree, because of growing American support for the Kenyan security forces,” the Times added.
The newspaper noted the close cooperation between the US and Kenya on counter-terrorism efforts, adding, ” The CIA station in Nairobi is among the largest in Africa. And the United States ambassador to Kenya, Robert Godec, was formerly the State Department’s deputy coordinator for counter-terrorism.”
The Times further reported that the Westgate Mall is one of “at least three major shopping malls in the Kenyan capital about which American embassy officials had expressed concerns over faulty security to Kenyan authorities.”
Until now, direct US military operations against Shabaab have consisted of little more than a few drone strikes.
But the CIA does maintain a large base at the Mogadishu airport, and US trainers and advisors have worked extensively with African Union troops battling Shabaab in Somalia.-nation.co.ke