September 26, 2013 | Quote
Kenya Mall Attack Unlikely to Alter U.S. Approach to Shabab
The deadly mall attack in Kenya is unlikely to change the Obama administration’s restrained approach to Shabab, the Somali-based terrorist group that claimed responsibility for the violence and that has been the target of occasional U.S. military action, American officials and counter-terrorism analysts say.
Pushed out of territory in Somalia it once controlled and riven by internal dissent, Shabab is seen as a dangerous regional threat. But it has not demonstrated the inclination or capability to attack the U.S. homeland, as Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen has tried to do, officials say.
As many as 20 Somali Americans are believed to have joined Shabab in recent years, and at least two have taken part in suicide bombings in Somalia. But experts say the U.S. recruits have not sought to bring the group’s ideology or terrorist tactics back home.
The U.S. does not want to posture itself as being at war with Shabab, even though the group technically merged with Al Qaeda in 2012, a second official said, because most Shabab fighters do not aspire to commit international terrorism.
“I don’t see that [the mall attack] requires a significant change” in U.S. policy, said Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a counter-terrorism expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington-based think tank.