Africa Center Assistant Director Joshua Meservey writes for Foreign Affairs on the motivation behind al-Shabaab’s attack on Garissa University in Kenya:
Sadly, the al Shabab attack on Kenya’s Garissa University College that killed at least 147 people was nothing new. Since October 2011, when Kenya invaded Somalia to fight the terrorist group in its home territory, the group has launched more than 100 attacks inside Kenya that have claimed hundreds of lives and sent the country’s tourism industry into a tailspin. Many of the attacks have been as ruthless as this latest outrage: the group killed at least 67 in an attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi in September 2013, and in June 2014 took over a Kenyan town and systematically executed its non-Muslim residents.
Even so, al Shabab has been wounded by a sustained offensive from the multinational African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and its deeds are increasingly eclipsed by the lurid exploits of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and Boko Haram. As the group feels its stature weaken, it is more likely to lash out, carrying out high-profile and gratuitously brutal attacks like the one in Garissa. The United States and the rest of the international community must do all they can to support Kenya as it weathers al Shabab’s grisly turn.