MOGADISHU (Halbeeg News) – Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabab group remains capable of launching large-scale attacks in Kenya despite claims that the insurgency is weakening, a conflict-prevention think tank said.
Al-Shabab has been waging attack in the East African nation since 2011 when Kenya sent its troops to Somalia.
A 22,000-strong African Union force including thousands of Kenyan troops is in Somalia to help the government of Horn of the African nation to defeat Al-Shabab fighters.
The International Crisis Group, in a report released which coincides with the fifth anniversary of Westgate Mall attack, said the group remains a potent threat to security in the region although Al-Shabab’s capacity to launch regular attacks in urban areas has been degraded.
The ICG report titled Al-Shabab Five Years after Westgate: Still a Menace in East Africa, noted that the attacks by the group on major cities including Nairobi and Mombasa had drastically been lowered.
The report shade light on the group’s new tactic following its reduced ability to carry out bombings and gun and grenade assaults in urban areas.
According to ICG report, Al-Shabab diverted its efforts from the hit and run attacks to securing from new fighters for its insurgency.
For the last three years, Al-Shabab has increasingly tried to recruit youths outside its traditional hotspots at the Coast and in former Northern Frontier Districts (NFD).
The group dispatched missionaries and recruiters to Christian dominated regions to secure new fighters.
Al-Shabab recruiters hunt down the recently converted Muslims who are more easily manipulated due to their limited understanding of the religion.
Operating in Tanzania and Mozambique
Due to Kenya’s war on terror operations in areas prone to Al-Shabab attacks in northern and coastal regions, the group moved its movement from the Kenyan coast to the Pwani region of Tanzania.
The report said Al-Shabab in cooperation with Tanzanian local militants staged numerous attacks, many of which have passed without notice internationally.
Since 2014, particularly in the town of Kibiti within Pwani, Al-Shabab and affiliated militants have beheaded dozens of ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi officials, killed policemen and staged assaults on moderate Muslim clerics.
Crackdowns by Tanzanian authorities have in turn forced some of the militants to migrate further south to Mozambique, which has seen a spate of attacks in recent months.
“Al-Shabab is an adaptable and resilient organisation and, although its capacity has been blunted since 2013, it will remain an enduring threat to security in the region,” Mr. Murithi Mutiga, deputy project director for the International Crisis Group, said.