In July, terrorists hit two clubs in Kampala where fans were watching the World Cup. At least 74 people were killed and hundreds injured. It was Uganda’s worst such attack.
The radical Somali Islamist group, Al Shabaab, claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying it was punishment for Uganda for sending troops to Somalia as part of the African Union peace-keeping force (AMISOM).Al Shabaab also said it would strike Burundi, which is the only other country to have sent troops to serve with AMISOM.The Monday night attack came barely six hours after Uganda security sent a warning that it had information that Al Shabaab was planning a Christmas attacks.So far, Burundi has been not been attacked, but a few weeks ago, bombers were intercepted at the Rwanda-Burundi border.
Kampala Coach also travels to Bujumbura via Kigali, and it is possible the destination of the grenades could have been any of these cities.Beyond the attack, it is more important to look at why Al Shabaab is carrying out these attacks.One little discussed fact is that while Al Shabaab has seen a spectacular rise in its fortunes inside Somali, there are signs that it is in decline.
In many small towns, districts and regions, Somalis fed up with the violence and the deprivations brought about by the conflict, are organising and creating their own local “governments”, and pressing back against Al Shabaab.
n Madina, one of Mogadishu’s district, a group of people frustrated by the lawlessness, organised the defence of their own area by bringing together local clans, business leaders and the local people.
Secondly, it’s a well-known fact that the vast Somali Diaspora, many of whom are quite wealthy, and Somali business people in East Africa, have backed the warring factions in the long conflict there.
Somali militants, therefore, were careful not to destabilise the rest of the region with terrorist attacks, because they feared governments could retaliate by dismantling their supply networks in East Africa.However, the rise of the Shabaab changed all that. It is not reliant on the regional Somali Diaspora cashbox, so it doesn’t care what happens to Somali-owned business in East Africa.Even if they are shut down, it won’t be crippled for its money from the Middle East will continue flowing in.
Then, knowledgeable sources say that some of Shabaab’s Qiyadah (Somali commanders) favour talks, while the foreign ones don’t.Therefore, the more attacks the Shabaab can carry out in the region, the more it will advance its goals, especially of the more hardline foreign elements withinIt is probably hoping that forcing governments to carry out a xenophobic crackdowns on Somalis would drive angry Somalis to its side.
Also, such new recruits would be more willing to embrace the virulent anti-East African line of the foreign fighters.Finally, President Yoweri Museveni unwittingly stirred up the pot when he made a surprise visit to Mogadishu in November. He was the first Head of State to visit war-torn Mogadishu (if not Somalia) in 20 years.
It was a diplomatic victory for the Transitional Federal government’s President Sheikh Ahmed, and a signal to the world that the situation is beginning to look up. The Shabaab warned then they would punish Museveni for “trespassing”.
The Shabaab need to regain the initiative, and ensure that no other foreign leader entertains ideas about visiting Mogadishu.
Fresh terrorist attacks would give them that. In that sense, then, we should expect more, not fewer, things to go boom in the dark.Nation