Al-Shabab, an al-Qaida offshoot based in Somalia, is growing more emboldened in targeting U.S. troops, according to U.S. Africa Command’s director of intelligence Navy Rear Adm. Heidi Berg.
“We do assess that there is a definitive shift in focus on conducting attacks against the U.S.” Berg told reporters Friday. “We’ve watched that take place over the course of a couple of months.”
Violent extremist groups including ISIS-Somalia, Boko Haram and al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb exist in Africa. But Berg claimed that al-Shabab is particularly worrisome, and noted that the organization’s propaganda and public announcements are “reminiscent” of al-Qaida’s prior to the 9/11 attacks.
“We currently assess that al-Shabab is the most capable terrorist group on the African continent in terms of the ability to potentially threaten Western interests regionally,” Berg said.
The comments come days after a U.S. service member was injured in an al-Shabab attack on Sept. 7 where militants used a vehicle as an improvised explosive device and mortar fire.
AFRICOM reported last week the service member, who was among U.S. and Somali troops conducting an advise, assist and accompany mission at the time of the attack, was in stable condition and receiving treatment for non-life-threatening injuries.
But other al-Shabab attacks have been deadly for Americans. In January, U.S. and Kenyan forces were attacked at Manda Bay Airfield in Kenya and the ambush resulted in the deaths of Army Spc. Henry Mayfield Jr., 23, and two U.S. Department of Defense contractors, Dustin Harrison, 47, and Bruce Triplett, 64.
AFRICOM officials previously told reporters that they believed al-Shabab militants came from Somalia and received assistance from facilitators in Kenya to pull off the attack.
Source: Military Times