Why Al-Shabaab Targets Kenya More Than Other East African Countries

  • Al-Shabaab militants. Daily Nation
  • Statistics have revealed that Kenya has experienced an excessive number of attacks by the Somalia based Al-Shabaab, more than any other East African country.

    According to research conducted by Business Daily, Al-Shabaab attacks in the country cannot be explained by geography alone.

    Potential targets such as Addis Ababa, Djibouti, Kigali or Kampala are geographically distant and logistically difficult to reach than Kenya.

    However, Ethiopia, which has a much longer border with Somalia than Kenya does, the terror group executed a total of 272 attacks in Kenya and only five in Ethiopia between 2008 and 2015.

    Kenya Defence Forces in Somalia

    While some people have attributed Kenya's woes as retaliation by Al-Shabaab for the invasion of African Union Mission In Somalia (AMISOM) by the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF), others have cited both logical and opportunistic reasons by the terror group.

    Due to Kenya's status as one of Africa’s sub-Saharan important states, attacking targets particularly in Nairobi or at the coast guarantees Al-Shabaab a high level of international coverage.

    Media coverage that is given to the horrific attacks in Kenya also presents Al-Shabaab the “oxygen” it needs to survive and potentially, thrive. Most international media such as CNN, BBC, and Al-Jazeera base their Africa operations in Nairobi.

    Kenya's tourism hub has also been cited as an attractive, ample and opportune target for terror.

    Furthermore, it is reported that Kenya’s security services are riddled with inefficiency and corruption, with strong allegations suggesting that Kenya’s police and military have occasionally colluded with Al-Shabaab.

    The gruesome attacks thus give Al-Shabaab a level of publicity, notoriety and international relevance that seeks to raise attention to their existence and viability, which they in turn use to entice recruits and spread fear.

    Kenya Defense Forces army rescues civilians during the Riverside Dusit D2 attack in Nairobi

    In essence, the larger and more brutal the attack, the more the group is perceived as potentially more relevant and powerful than it possibly is.

    On Tuesday, the terror group claimed responsibility for the Dusit D2, Riverside attack in Nairobi, that claimed 21 lives.