The hostage crisis at a Nairobi, Kenya mall may have finally begun to wind down Monday. As the sun set in Nairobi, Kenyan defense forces tweeted that they had “dominated” all floors of the Westgate mall building and are now concentrating on clearing the facility. The crisis lasted over 48 hours and left at least 62 dead and over 150 injured, including five Americans.
Members of Somalia-based terror group al Shabaab, an al-Qaeda affiliated group, stormed the mall on Saturday afternoon, wearing black clothing and ski masks, setting off explosives and shooting civilians. The Kenyan military claims that over 200 civilians have been rescued since the standoff began. The attack, the deadliest act of terrorism in Kenya since the bombing of the U.S. embassy in 1998, is drawing renewed attention to the increasingly diffuse threat of radical, fundamentalist terrorism.
While al Qaeda’s core in Afghanistan and Pakistan has become increasingly weak, affiliated groups such as al-Shabaab have been able to thrive elsewhere in places like Somalia, Yemen, and Mali. As Yochi Dreazen wrote in The Atlantic last year:
Africa’s Islamists are able to take advantage of the fact that many of the continent’s countries have porous borders; weak and corrupt central governments; undertrained and underequipped militaries; flourishing drug trades that provide a steady source of income; and vast, lawless spaces that are so large—and so far away from major American military bases like those in the Middle East and Afghanistan—that it would be difficult for the U.S. to mount effective counterterror efforts even if the war-weary Obama administration chose to do so.
Dreazen and NBC News correspondent Ron Allen joined NOW With Alex Wagner Monday to discuss the ongoing attack in Nairobi.