Fox News quotes Africa Center Director J. Peter Pham on al-Shabaab’s attack on Garissa University in Kenya and President Obama’s upcoming visit to the country:
“Their objective right now is to get attention,” said Peter Pham, an Africa expert at the Atlantic Council, adding that the terror group is “changing its model” from a “major insurgent threat” to, increasingly, “a transnational terrorist group.”
A presidential visit would, for a brief period, put the international spotlight on Kenya. Pham said al-Shabaab, while good at hitting “soft targets,” so far has avoided government buildings and other fortifications and would likely not attempt to “storm any majorly defended target” like the meetings Obama would be attending.
However, that might not stop them from plotting an attack against Kenyans while the president is in the country, for the kind of attention they’re seeking.
“It doesn’t necessarily need to be associated directly to the presidential visit, other than the timing,” Pham said. “Anything they do … will get them what they want, which is more media and exposure to the big leagues so to speak. The more reporters in the country heightens the risk.”