Since the New Year, US Africa Command has hit Shabaab 14 times. AFRICOM acknowledges that the air campaign is not sufficient to defeat Shabaab, but can only support the Somali government’s efforts.
Shabaab has now assassinated four high-ranking Somali military personnel in the same general vicinity.
The pace of strikes against Shabaab’s network in Somalia has intensified despite reports that the US military is seeking to disengage from the war-torn country.
According to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), al Qaeda’s senior leaders are strengthening the al Qaeda “network’s global command structure.” Meanwhile, the Islamic State “still commands thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria.” Both groups maintain worldwide networks or affiliates, branches, and supporters.
Bilal Khuraysat, an al Qaeda ideologue in Syria, has released a treatise justifying Shabaab’s war with the Islamic State in Somalia. The Islamic State continues to battle al Qaeda’s branches and like-minded jihadists in several theaters.
A US airstrike reportedly targeted Shabaab militants as they went on the offensive following the deadly terrorist attack in Nairobi.
Shabaab released a two-page statement saying the Jan. 15 attack at a hotel in Nairobi was conducted in accordance with Ayman al Zawahiri’s “guidelines.” The al Qaeda arm has other reasons for striking inside Kenya as well, including the government’s role in the guerrilla war in Somalia.
The jihadist group continues to launch large-scale attacks inside Kenyan territory.