The attack on Nairobi’s five-star DusitD2 hotel brought back memories of a similar hit in 2013 by Al Shabab on the city’s Westgate shopping mall that left 67 dead.
Between 2008 and 2015, Al Shabab has carried out more than 200 attacks in Kenya, albeit most on a small scale. What makes Kenya so vulnerable to attacks by Al Shabab?
It can be argued it is Kenya’s military interventions in Somalia and geographical proximity. But Ethiopia has a deeper history of military interventions, and longer shared border with Somalia. Yet, in the same period, Ethiopia experienced just five attacks by the group.
A lot has to do with Kenya itself. The country is a social, political, economic and media hub of East Africa.
Attacking targets in Kenya guarantees more international coverage than say in Uganda or Burundi, which have also had troops in Somalia.
Add to this the fact that Kenya’s security forces have a reputation for corruption and inefficiency. This fact was illustrated through shameful images that surfaced after the Westgate attack in which soldiers were seeing looting goods from luxury retail stores in the upscale mall even as the siege was underway and people were being killed.
Another reason is the Nairobi neighbourhood of Eastleigh, which is predominantly Somali, and has allegedly been used in the past as a logistics base for militants planning attacks.