Africa’s terror challenge

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Africa’s terror challenge

Somalia must rise and become militarily strong to fight rising threats from Al Shabaab

The recent spate of terrorist attacks that has engulfed parts of Somalia is not an isolated event. The east African country has been at war since decades. But given the frequency of such terror strikes, it seems there can be no limit to the extent of brutality for Al Shabaab, the Somali jihadi group, which wants to take control of the country and impose its form of extremism on the Somalis. With about 4,200 killings to its ‘credit’, the Al Shabaab became the deadliest Islamic extremist group in Africa last year. The recent attacks — one at a popular Mogadishu restaurant and the other a suicide bomber hit, where militants blew off a car, which claimed the lives of more than 30 people — are one of the deadliest. While the motif of the attack is difficult to comprehend, what is evident is that they have come close on the heels of a new military offensive against the extremist group by the newly elected Government and also the recent decision of the Trump Administration to launch a war to root out the Al Qaeda affiliate at the roots. It was only early this week that the US military launched an air strike in the southern part of the country and killed eight Islamic extremists at a rebel command and logistics camp. What is questionable though is the group’s modus operandi — to selectively target non-Muslim people in high-profile places like hotels, malls, military checkpoints and also presidential palaces. The recent attacks that took place at a eating joint and the June 8 strike at a military base, are reminiscent of the Nairobi mall attack in 2013, which followed a similar pattern of events. Though the Government was able to bring the city back to normalcy and restore national unity then, the repercussions have come to jolt the city time and again. Long-term measures are needed to effectively contain the menace of terrorism.

Somalia has, in fact, seen a long history of bloodshed since it faced civil war. With the establishment of a federal Government, things worsened. The country saw a rise in extremist terror groups like the Islamic Courts Union, which have come to challenge Government supremacy and have also taken control of large swathes of territory. While the African Union Mission in Somalia registered some major successes in driving out the Al Shabaab, the multinational force has now planned to start withdrawing from 2018. This would mean that Somalia has to re-think its war strategies and re-double its efforts to assume full responsibility of the security on account of the extending reach of the terror outfit. It is a fact that terrorism has spread its wings in these parts of Africa. There exists many name-changing terror groups like the Al Qaeda, the Al Shabaab, the al-Nusra Front, and the Islamic State among others. But there's not much difference between their ideologies. They all but compete to earn the name of being the biggest jihadi group. To this end, the world must come together to fight the menace of global terrorism.

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