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Monday, September 23, 2013

Jihadist Massacre in Kenya -- Review & Outlook, The Wall Street Journal

Al Qaeda's al Shabaab affiliate makes a bloody comeback.

The bloody jihadist assault on a Kenyan shopping mall shows that while al Qaeda forces may be dispersed, they are still highly dangerous. The gunmen fired their way into the crowd Saturday afternoon and hurled grenades as they made their way to the upper levels. At least 68 people had been killed and 205 injured as we went to press. Dozens more are being held hostage. Escapees report the terrorists are targeting Westerners and non-Muslims.

The attack comes at the hands of Somalia's al Shabaab, a jihadist group many observers had hoped was a spent force. Until a couple of years ago, al Shabaab had the run of much of Somalia, imposing brutal Shariah law from the capital of Mogadishu and exacerbating widespread famine as it blocked foreign food aid.

But by the summer of 2011, a surge of African Union soldiers in Somalia and U.S. strikes against al Shabaab leaders appeared to be routing the terrorists. Al Shabaab announced in August 2011 that it was withdrawing from Mogadishu—supposedly as part of a tactical shift, though it looked every bit like a retreat. The African Union force currently includes some 4,000 Kenyan soldiers, who in September 2012 helped the Somali government retake Kismayo, the strategic port city that had been al Shabaab's last major stronghold in Somalia.

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