PRAYER ALERT: On November 22 about 20 members of Somalia’s al Shabaab jihadist group hijacked a bus on the Kenya side of the border. They planned to take it to Somalia. However, the bus got stuck. The militants then forced all 60 passengers to get off. Two gunmen asked them questions about the Koran. Those who failed to recite an Islamic declaration were shot dead at close range. Al Shabaab, an al Qaeda affiliate, said this Kenya bus attack was payback for the government’s raids and shutdown of four mosques last week.
The government in turn retaliated against the Kenya bus attack with airstrikes. It claimed to destroy an Al Shabaab camp in Somalia and kill 100 militants. Militant gangs struck back in Mombasa, Kenya on November 24. They rampaged through the streets, beating and stabbing people. Local pastor Joshua Muteti, who was hit on the back of his head with a machete, was one of the four who died.
Both Muslim and Christian leaders called on Kenya’s government to let the mosques reopen. Muslim leaders criticized the government for insensitivity to their faith. Christian leaders are seeking to prevent further revenge attacks. Both Christian and Muslim clergy have been victims of unexplained killings by unknown gunmen.
The Kenya bus attack was only the latest in more than 135 militant attacks in Kenya since 2011. That was the year that the government sent troops to Somalia to fight al Shabaab. But this is the first time in Kenya’s history that the government has gone so far as to shut down mosques. Deputy President Joseph Ruto defended the action. He said the four mosques had been converted into armories and terrorist recruiting centers. In the past week police raids on the mosques have uncovered petrol bombs, grenades, a gun and ammunition. Black militant flags were seized and more than 300 youths were arrested.
The Kenya bus attack was the worst massacre in the country since the Nairobi mall attack killed 67 people in September 2013. Al Shabaab also claimed responsibility for that attack.
How far must governments go in preventing such terrorist attacks on innocents? When mosques recruit terrorists and harbor weapons, can we blame Kenya for shutting them down? When suicide attackers perpetrate massacres, can we blame Israel for tearing down their homes, as it is now doing? What are the consequences for not taking effective measures against terrorists?
Nigerian President Jonathan Goodluck is facing such consequences now. The Nigerian government is widely criticized for not cracking down enough on al Qaeda-linked Boko Haram, which has killed 5000+ in a 5-year insurgency. Now Goodluck faces a rough reelection fight…
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