Al-Shabab looking into softer targets: U.S


The U.S. government announced that the Somali rebel force al-Shabab is looking for soft targets because the forces of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) have had success in fighting against the group.
During an online press conference to discuss the U.S. Foreign Policy and Security Cooperation in sub-Saharan Africa, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, said that al-Shabab is looking for soft targets, as other targets are being made harder to attack because of AMISOM’s strong presence.   
She said that the U.S. is pursuing the right strategies towards the countering of al-Shabab, noting the recent terrorist attack at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi that claimed the lives of over 70 people.
“The attack [just] showed us we need to bolster that strategy,” she said. “We know we must continue those efforts to go after al-Shabab so that we don’t see those kinds of attacks happen again.”
David M. Rodriguez (Gen.), Commander of United States Africa Command (USAFRICOM), who believes that Africa is becoming less hospitable to extremists because of coordinated efforts by Africom, its international and interagency partners, and nongovernmental organizations and African nations themselves, stated that AFRICOM and its partners are making great strides in countering violent extremist organizations and terrorists within Africa. He said it will work on strengthening the African defense capabilities so that Africans can solve security problems by themselves.
“We think some of the successes the AMISOM has had over the last several years have actually led to this response by al-Shabab,” Rodriguez said, agreeing with Greenfield. “This really validates the strategy,” he said. “And we are going to continue to work with our partners to strengthen their capability to stop al-Shabab from having an incredibly negative impact on both the people of Somalia as well as the region.”
According to him, partners of Africom in East Africa, North Africa, and West Africa have managed to extend their support and are making progress in countering violent extremists such as al-Shabab and al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb with the U.S. helping the African Union’s regional task force make headway against Lord’s Resistance Army, according to him.  “We work very hard with all the troop-contributing nations to help best prepare them to support their operational efforts,” and to help make the African Union Mission in Somalia “as effective as it can be,” Rodriguez told reporters via an online news conference held on Wednesday, October 23rd.
According to him, African nations’ security is being threatened by a number of extremist and terrorist groups and organizations including al-Shabab in East Africa, al-Qaida and its affiliates in North Africa, the Lord’s Resistance Army of Joseph Kony in Central Africa, and the Boko Haram organization in Nigeria.
Extremist organizations have no formalized organizational structure, according to the army general. Nevertheless, they frequently work together to fulfill their common ideology and to help each other have the impact they want to have “to destabilize the countries”.
The general said that the ones who are hurt the most by terrorism are the African people themselves. “We are supporting Africa and all its countries to ensure this scourge does not have a negative impact on the world,” he said. “[It] all has a negative impact on what the African nations’ desire and what they deserve and what they are working to end,” he added.
He underscored that countering terrorism in the continent requires more than just military capability. “The solution to terrorism in the region is a long-term, broad, whole-of-government approach by all our partners. It is not solved just by military operations,” Rodriguez said. “It is about economic development, it is about the improvement in governance, it is about the rule of law and law enforcement”