Group Linked To al Qaeda Claims Responsibility For Uganda Bombing

There is an al Qaeda link to yesterday's terrorist attack in Uganda.

A Somalian group linked to al Qaeda has claimed responsibility for a bombing that killed at least seventy people in Uganda, including at least one American:

Among the at least 64 people killed in the two devastating blasts that tore through outdoor gatherings in Uganda where hundreds of soccer fans were in the midst of watching the World Cup final was 25-year-old American Nate Henn. Henn worked for a California-based children’s charity, Invisible Children, which helps former child soldiers in Uganda.

The selection of targets in the Ugandan capital — a restaurant and a sports field where people were watching the game on large-screen TV’s — ensured the bombs struck a broad mix of Ugandans and foreigners, including Americans. The wounded were rushed to local hospitals, which were soon overwhelmed. Fred Opolot, a Uganda Media Center spokesman, said, “The government of Uganda ladies and gentlemen does convey its condolences to the bereaved families and requests the public to remain calm under this situation, thank you very much.”

Police said initial signs indicated bombs had been place under tables, though investigators had not yet ruled out suicide bombers.

“Right now it is too early to say we have suspects because it could be a suicide bomber or a time bomb, so it is too early to speculate and conclude that they were suicide bombers. Let’s give time to our investigators. They will be able to give us a full report of their findings.” Capt. Judith Nabakooba, a police spokeswoman, said.

Al Shabaab, a fundemental Islamist group based in Somalia, today claimed responsibility for the attacks.

“We will carry out attacks against our enemy wherever they are,” Sheik Ali Mohamud Rage speaking from Mogadishu told the Associated Press.

“No one will deter us from performing our Islamic duty.”

Intelligence officials earlier told ABC News there’s evidence the attack was carried out by the Al Shabaab terror group.

As Jerry Remmers notes, this just seems to be the latest indication that al Qaeda has been at least somewhat successful in expanding beyond the Afghanistan/Pakistan region. There have already been indications of al Qaeda influence in Yemen and, of course, Somalia would seem to be the perfect breeding ground for terrorists. It makes one wonder if focusing on Afghanistan really makes sense if the terrorists have already begun to move elsewhere.

Incidentally, Dave Weigel has a write-up about Nate Henn, the American killed in the attacks who also happened to be a friend of Weigel’s from his days in Delaware.

FILED UNDER: Africa, National Security, Terrorism, US Politics, World Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. Dave Schuler says:

    Hostis humani generis. This strikes me as an attack that demonstrates not just the organizational weakness of violent radical Islamists but their strategic bankruptcy.

    IIRC, although Uganda has a solid majority of Christians of various denominations, it also has a sizeable minority of Muslims. As best as I can tell most of those killed or injured were Ugandans. So the attack killed a number of Ugandans and possibly some Muslims. Why? Because they could. A soft target.

    The attack won’t terrorize Americans or Europeans—not enough Americans or Europeans involved and, particularly for Americans, it took place far, far away. Will it stop Ugandans from watching the World Cup? Doubtful.

    The most it will accomplish is to make Ugandans look a little more suspiciously at their Muslim fellow citizens.

  2. Franklin says:

    Will it stop Ugandans from watching the World Cup?

    This was basically my first thought – “what, do Muslims have something against soccer?” This attack makes less than zero sense from the viewpoint of Al Qaeda – I would think we have just acquired a new ally in the War on Terror (or whatever it’s called now).

  3. jack says:

    The attack won’t terrorize Americans or Europeans—not enough Americans or Europeans involved and, particularly for Americans, it took place far, far away. Will it stop Ugandans from watching the World Cup? Doubtful.