Opinion Brief

Uganda bombings: A new battlefield for jihad

A Somali jihadist group is claiming responsibility for blasts that killed 74 people in Uganda. Is Somalia becoming a haven for terrorists who could strike the U.S.?

A Somali Islamist militia linked to al Qaeda has claimed responsibility for twin bombings in Uganda that killed 74 people gathered to watch the World Cup final on TV. Both blasts targeted areas popular with foreigners, and one of the dead, charity worker Nate Henn, was an American. If this was really the handiwork of al Shabab, this would be the group's first attack outside Somalia's borders. Is this a sign that Somalia has become a haven for terrorists the way Afghanistan was under the Taliban, and that more attacks are to come? (Watch an al Jazeera report about the twin bombings)

Al Qaeda has a new partner in jihad: One of al Shabab's motives was its determination to drive Uganda's African Union troops out of Somalia, say the editors of Investors Business Daily, but another was "its Talibanic hatred of soccer, music, drinking, and all 'unnecessary fun'" common in non-fundamentalist cultures. If al Shabab succeeds in driving foreign troops out of Somalia, it will get the "failed state" it needs to create a "safe haven" for its jihadists. The stakes in the terror war have just been raised.
"Al Qaeda terror: This time, Africa"

Actually, this might spell trouble for the terrorist group: "This could just be the worst mistake al Shabaab ever made," says Davidson College Somalia expert Ken Menkhaus, as quoted by Reuters. Al Shabab already antagonized the Somali people with an attack on a Mogadishu hotel that killed several innocents. This attack will "inevitably prompt heightened law enforcement attention on Somali communities around the world," making it more difficult for Somalis to send money home. That could cause serious "blowback" for al Shabab.
"Analysts' view: Uganda blasts stir regional anxiety"

Face it — al Shabab is a new terror threat for the U.S. to worry about: Al Shabab is definitely a threat outside Somalia, and even outside Africa, says Sara A. Carter in the Washington Examiner. The group has sent fighters to Iraq and Afghanistan, and it has had some success recruiting young Somali refugees in other countries, including the U.S. Al Shabab shares al Qaeda's Muslim extremism and its anti-American rage, and it's exploiting the chaos on its home turf to make Somalia the newest battlefield in the global war on terror.
"Somali group that claims Ugandan bombing a growing threat to U.S., experts say"

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