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Kenyan intelligence agency had advanced warning al Qaeda-linked group was planning attack
Question of the Day
A report from Africa in the aftermath of the deadly al-Shabab terrorist attack on a Nairobi shopping mall indicates Kenya’s intelligence agency had advance warning that the al Qaeda-linked group was planning attacks.
The Kenya National Intelligence Service reported in August that an al-Shabab cell had been activated in the coastal city of Mombasa, according to an intelligence report obtained by the Nairobi newspaper, The Standard.
The terrorists were described as “newly trained jihadists with a mission to strike targets in Mombasa and Nairobi to mark the first anniversary of the Aug. 27, 2012, killing of radical Islamist Sheikh Aboud Rogo,” the newspaper said.
The Kenyan cleric was shot 17 times by unidentified gunmen, as he was driving his wife to a hospital.
“The two [al-Shabab] clerics were to coordinate attacks against shopping malls, police stations, churches and other installation, as Mombasa prepared to mark several functions, including a presidential visit,” the report said.
“Yes, we are aware of that intelligence report, and we know that there are plans by al-Shabab to attack functions that are highly populated,” he said.
The location of the four al-Shabab jihadists who were in Mombasa is not known. Officials told the newspaper that they may have been in Nairobi or that the activation in Mombasa was a diversion prior to the mall attack in Nairobi.
At least 67 people were killed and more than 150 were wounded Saturday in the shopping mall assault by terrorists armed with grenades and assault rifles who battled security forces for four days.
The al-Shabab operation raised concerns that the Somali terrorist group is expanding its operations outside the Horn of Africa, including possibly in the United States.
Timothy R. Furnish, a counterterrorism specialist, however, said he doubts the group will conduct U.S. strikes.
“Al-Shabab, for all its east African nastiness, is not a threat to the United States, and claims that it will become so via the Somali expatriate communities here are far-fetched at best.
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About the Author
Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon (www.freebeacon.com). He has been with The Times since 1985.
He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.
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