On Sunday, two bombs exploded in Kampala, Uganda, killing 74 people while they were watching the World Cup finale. The Somali Islamic group Al Shabab claimed responsibility, calling the attack retaliation for Uganda deploying peacekeepers to Somalia and “massacring” civilians.
The attack underscored the deepening failure of the Somali state and heightened fears that the country might become a major base for Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists. For years, the U.S. has quietly struck at suspected Al-Qaeda cells in Somalia with commandos, drones and cruise missiles. In 2006 Washington provided logistics and air cover as Ethiopia swept through Somalia in a failed bid to disarm Al Shabab. The rise of Somali extremists has forced the State Department to suspend a program to resettle Somali refugees in the U.S.; last year, several dozen Somali-American youths sneaked back into Somalia to serve in Al Shabab. Several died. Others are in detention in the U.S. after fleeing the extremist group.
With pressure mounting in Afghanistan and Pakistan, are East Africa and Yemen becoming the new center of gravity for Islamic terrorists? While we mull that prospect, here’s a survey of War Is Boring‘s recent stories on Al Shabab:
* Who exactly are Al Shabab? The short answer is, we don’t really know for sure.
* Is there any connection between Al Shabab and Somali pirates? In a word, no.
* Minnesota has become the focus of investigations into Somali-American youths sneaking back to Somalia to join Al Shabab.
* Al Shabab has targeted Somali journalists for assassination. War Is Boring readers saved one of their victims through donations.
* In December Al Shabab wiped out a slew of Somali government ministers, reporters and doctors in a dramatic suicide bombing. A War Is Boring contributor barely survived the blast.
* Al Shabab is monkeying with U.N. food aid in Somalia, endangering millions.