MOGADISHU, Somalia – Al-Shabaab remains one of the most “skilled and dangerous” terrorist groups in Africa, the US-African Command has said, arguing that the militants are threatening the interests of Somalia’s Western allies in their relentless attacks on security forces and civilians in East Africa.
For the past 14 years, the group that swore allegiance to Al-Qaeda in 2012 has released terror to security forces working in Somalia and Kenya in addition to targeting innocent civilians. Also trapped in the mix are senior officials and those believed to be spies.
And AFRICOM, America’s group of military officers operating in Africa, believes pressure should be maintained on the group following a drop in militant attacks throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, which appears to have captured the group unprepared as well.
But despite the marked reduction in the major attacks, the U.S. African Command told the Voice of America that the group has, however, increased the use of vehicle-born improvised devices. [VBIDs] when performing attacks. Previously, the group was primarily dependent on IEDs, which they usually implant along major supply routes.
In addition, the US-African Command said that the Al-Shabaab militants are not only targeting the Somali national army [SNA] but has in recent days shifted attention to the African Union Mission Forces and the U.S. military team operating in the war-torn nation that has struggled with instability for decades.
“We see them targeting not only our Somali partners, but also AMISOM partners, Americans and American interests,” AFRICOM said, noting the recent trend in which the group has targeted military bases throughout Somalia, further complicating the war on terror.
In recent months, there have been attempts at attacks on various military bases in Somalia, with AMISOM and SNA being the most vulnerable. For example, AMISOM forces repulsed an attack last week targeting one of the bases in central Somalia, a famous Al-Shabaab stronghold.
Last month, the militants also gained access to a U.S. military post in Janay Abdalla, approx. 50 km west of Kismayo, the temporary capital of Jubaland. During the meeting, two Danab soldiers died while a U.S. soldier was wounded, but he has since been stabilized.
And the command under the command of General Stephen Townsend now says that the Al-Shabaab militants remain the most dangerous terrorist group in all of Africa, threatening America, allies and partners in the war on terror. This is the second time the United States has labeled Al-Shabaab a dangerous group this year.
“We are currently assessing that al-Shabaab is the most capable terrorist group on the African continent in terms of its ability to potentially threaten Western interests regionally. Al-Shabaab is a very real and dangerous threat, ”the command said in a statement that could lead to a change in the strategy in the fight against terrorism.
Currently, the United States has close to 500 troops in Somalia, where AMISOM also has at least 22,000 troops selected from African countries. The troops have significantly broken down Al-Shabaab in addition to liberating several strategic cities despite also suffering some losses.
This year, the U.S.-African Command has carried out 46 airstrikes against Al-Shabaab in Somalia, the highest within the same period in so many years. While the Americans have expected their exit in 2027, the AMISOM forces have put a strategic exit under the Somali transition plan [STP] which will be implemented from 2021.