Former Ambassador: Kenya Attack Shows Al-Shabab's Weakness06:39
Download

Play
This article is more than 6 years old.
Members of Somalia's al-Shabab jihadist movement are pictured during exercises at their military training camp outside Mogadishu, November 2008. (AP)
Members of Somalia's al-Shabab jihadist movement are pictured during exercises at their military training camp outside Mogadishu, November 2008. (AP)

Al-Shabab, the group that has claimed responsibility for the Kenya mall attack, is backed by al-Qaida and originates in Somalia, but includes members from around the world.

David Shinn, former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia and a professor of international affairs at George Washington University, tells Here & Now that a major goal of the group is "to establish an Islamist state in Somalia."

Al-Shabab has an antagonistic relationship with Kenya, Shinn says, because Kenyan military forces had a large role in weakening al-Shabab's influence in Somalia, including dislodging them from the strategically important city of Kismayo, Somalia.

Shinn says the Kenyan mall attack shows al-Shabab's weakness.

"You have a situation where al-Shabab has illustrated its organizational skill, in order to pull off an attack like this," Shinn said, "But I think the more important point is that by attacking a soft civilian undefended target in a neighboring country, you illustrate that there are significant limits to what you can do militarily. Because al-Shabab has not been successful in attacking the African Union forces inside Somalia ... so in that sense, it does demonstrate weakness. And I think that's the more important point to take out of this."

Guests

  • David Shinn, former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia and a professor of international affairs at George Washington University. He tweets @AmbShinn.

This segment airs on Invalid date.

Support the news

+Join the discussion
TwitterfacebookEmail

Support the news