Mass murder in a Kenyan shopping mall has sent another chilling signal about the evil intentions — and the dogged resolve — of Islamist terrorism. And though Kenyan security forces finally gained control of the grim scene Monday after a three-day siege, America and its allies are still locked in a long-term struggle against a violent, fanatical foe.
According to Kenyan authorities, 62 people were killed after heavily armed terrorists from the Islamist al-Shabab militia stormed the Westgate Premier Mall around lunchtime on Saturday. More than 170 others were injured —and many remained missing as of late Monday night.
Also Monday night, al-Shabab — on Twitter — claimed that “our Mujahideen are in full control” of the mall, adding, “May Allah bless them.”
But Kenyan officials quickly dismissed that contention.
Kenyan Gen. Julius Karangi, head of his nation’s military, also said the jihadists were “clearly a multinational collection from all over the world.” As he put it: “We are fighting global terrorism here.”
Certainly global terrorism is no stranger to Nairobi, where an al-Qaida truck bomb killed more than 200 people at the U.S. embassy in 1998.
So though President Barack Obama and other officials of his administration prefer not to call this ongoing conflict the War on Terror, it’s indisputably terrorism’s war on the civilized world.
And the U.S. government’s seeming reluctance to identify Islamist fanaticism as the insidious driving force behind these atrocities won’t placate our twisted enemies.
From an Associated Press account of the mall assault:
“As the attack began shortly after noon Saturday, the al-Qaida-linked gunmen asked the victims they had cornered if they were Muslim: Those who answered yes were free to go, several witnesses said. The non-Muslims were not.”
Several other sources reported that Christians were “summarily executed.”
Meanwhile, a pair of suicide bombers killed at least 78 people at a Christian church in Peshawar, Pakistan, on Sunday.
A splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility — and vowed continued carnage against “non-Muslims.”
So much for President Obama’s repeated assurances during last year’s re-election campaign that al-Qaida was on its last legs.
And Bruce Hoffman, a counterterrorism analyst at Georgetown University, told The Washington Post that a comeback by al-Shabab in Kenya would severely test U.S. intelligence and counterterrorism efforts in Syria, Egypt, Mali and elsewhere.
Professor Hoffman explained: “Renewed al-Qaida-generated instability in East Africa is the last thing we need right now. We can keep hoping that the war on terrorism and the struggle against al-Qaida is over, but it isn’t. It’s the monster that keeps rising from the grave.”
And it’s a monster that feeds on the radical ideology of Islamic jihadists — and targets non-Muslims for a brutal holy war that continues across the world.