- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 29, 2013

The House Committee on Foreign Affairs this week plans to focus on the threat posed by al-Shabab terrorists, as the Islamist militants spread outside their native Somalia in their hunt for Western and U.S. targets after their assault on a shopping mall in Kenya.

“It is critical that the United States and our allies reassess the threat that al-Shabab poses outside of Somalia and outside the region,” said Rep Edward R. Royce, committee chairman.

The California Republican announced a hearing on the al Qaeda-linked group at 9:45 a.m. Thursday in Room 2172 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

In Kenya, the U.S. Embassy reissued a travel warning, cautioning Americans visiting the East African nation about a high risk of terrorist attacks and violent street crime. It also has prohibited U.S. diplomats from traveling to the northeastern area of the country because of an upsurge of terrorism there over the past 18 months.

The embassy noted that five Americans were injured in the Sept. 21 al-Shabab attack on Nairobi’s Westgate Mall, where 67 people were killed in the four-day siege.

“The U.S. government continues to receive information about potential terrorist threats aimed at U.S., Western and Kenyan interests,” it said.

Al-Shabab targeted Kenya after Kenyan troops last year joined other soldiers from the African Union to drive the terrorists out of the Somali capital of Mogadishu. They are pursuing al-Shabab in southeastern Somalia.

U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Robert F. Godec pledged that the U.S. will help Kenya track down al-Shabab terrorists.

“In their response to this brutal terrorist attack, Kenyas have demonstrated great solidarity, showing themselves to be a strong and resilient people, committed to one another and to the future of their country,” he said.

Kenyan security forces on Sunday arrested another suspect in connection to the assault. They have detained 12 suspects but have freed three, Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku told reporters in Nairobi.

KENNEDY COASTING

Caroline Kennedy is expected to advance another step in her quest to be confirmed as U.S. ambassador to Japan.

The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations meets Tuesday to consider her nomination and send it to the full Senate for a confirmation vote.

Ms. Kennedy, the only surviving child of former President John F. Kennedy, coasted through a committee hearing Sept. 19 with equal praise from Democratic and Republican members. Her only critics, so far, have been foreign policy analysts who say she has no qualifications to serve as an ambassador.

DIPLOMATIC TRAFFIC

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Monday

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, who meets with President Obama.

Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s foreign affairs chief, who addresses the Woodrow Wilson International Center.

Tuesday

Prime Minister Antonis C. Samaras of Greece, who delivers the annual Stavros Niarchos Foundation lecture at a dinner hosted by the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

Bishop Angaelos, general bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Britain, who testifies about the abuse of religious rights in Egypt at a hearing before the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Africa, global health, global human rights and international organizations at 2 p.m. in Room 2172 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

Luuk van Middelaar, speechwriter and adviser to European Commission President Herman Van Rompuy, who addresses the Wilson Center.

Embassy Row is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. James Morrison can be reached at jmorrison@washingtontimes.com or @EmbassyRow.