Suggesting blowback, investigators say bomber may have had very personal reason for attack: the killing of civilians by U.S. forces earlier this year
New details emerged Tuesday about the possible motivations behind a bomb attack that killed more than 300 people in the Somalia capital of Mogadishu over the weekend—the deadliest such violence in the nation’s history—with the information suggesting the bombing may been in direct retaliation for a raid by U.S. soldiers this summer that left 10 civilians, including children, dead.
The Guardian reports:
Investigators believe the attack on Saturday may in part have been motivated by a desire for revenge for the botched US-led operation in August.
Al-Shabaab has not claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attack but a member of the cell detained by security forces has told interrogators the group was responsible, one security official told the Guardian.
Following the raid, in which three children aged between six and 10 died, local tribal elders called for revenge against the Somali government and its allies.
Not only was the bomber from the specific community targeted by the raid, but the investigation is also uncovering a series of other links to the town where it took place.
While the Somali government at the time apologized for what they described as a “case of mistaken identity” and U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) said it was “conducting an assessment” of the joint raid, local villagers called it nothing but a “massacre” of innocent farmers and young boys:
“These local farmers were attacked by foreign troops while looking after their crops,” the deputy governor of the Lower Shabelle region, Ali Nur Mohamed, told reporters in the wake of the killings. “The troops could have arrested them, because they were unarmed, but instead shot them one by one mercilessly.”
Critics of the U.S. military presence in Africa, and in Somalia specifically, have long argued that the so-called “war on terror”—as it has elsewhere in the world—is actually making the problem of terrorism worse, not better.
According to a comprehensive United Nations study published last month, evidence shows that in “a majority of cases, state action appears to be the primary factor finally pushing individuals into violent extremism in Africa.”
Of more than 500 former members of militant organizations interviewed for the report, the Guardian noted, 71 percent pointed to “government action,” including “killing of a family member or friend” or “arrest of a family member or friend” as the incident that prompted them to join a group.
“State security-actor conduct is revealed as a prominent accelerator of recruitment, rather than the reverse,” the UN report stated.
Earlier this year, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimated that since 2004, at least 300 people have been killed in Somalia as a result of at least 42 confirmed U.S. drone strikes.
Top photo | Zakariye Abdirisaq, left, who lost both his father and aunt in the bombing, is comforted by his cousin as they stand next to his father’s grave, at a cemetery in Mogadishu, Somalia Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017. Anguished families gathered across Somalia’s capital on Tuesday as funerals continued for the more than 300 people killed in one of the world’s deadliest attacks in years, while others waited anxiously for any word of the scores of people still said to be missing. (AP/Mohamed Sheikh Nor)