By C.N. Staff Writer
Islamic gunmen from the al-Shabab militant group stormed Garissa University College in Kenya over the Easter holiday weekend in early April, targeting Christian students. The gunmen demanded the Kenyan President order the removal of his military forces from Somalia, which is near the border where the attack took place.
148 students killed by militants in the massacre on April 2nd.
The publicization of the massacre has been minimal compared to the fatal Charlie Hedbo attack in France in January; there was no Je Suis Charlie social media campaign, no immediate meeting of world leaders, no celebrity endorsements of campaigns to assist the survivors. Even the country’s own authorities’ responses to the attack were lethargic: Kenya’s special police unit only arrived 11 hours after the massacre began, the LA Times reports, and there were only two police officers on the premises at the time Islamic militants began their rampage despite reports that a university attack was likely. The hashtag and the related hashtags #AfricanLivesMatter and #TheyHaveNames help tell the stories of those who lost their lives in the massacre.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has vowed to respond to the attack “in the severest way possible.” One of the four gunmen who carried out the attack has been identified as the son of a government official, the Kenyan Interior Ministry has said. He was named as Abdirahim Abdullahi, whose father is a local chief in Mandera County in the north-east of the country.
“The father had reported to security agents that his son had disappeared from home… and was helping the police try to trace his son by the time the Garissa terror attack happened,” ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka said. Abdullahi studied law in Nairobi and was an ‘upcoming lawyer’, Mr Njoka added.
President Kenyatta said that al-Shabab posed an “existential threat” to Kenya. He vowed to “fight terrorism to the end” and said the militants would not succeed in their aim of creating an Islamic caliphate in Kenya. Al-Shabab, which is based in neighboring Somalia, has pledged a “long, gruesome war” against Kenya. The group said its attacks were in retaliation for acts by Kenya’s security forces, who are part of the African Union’s mission in Somalia against al-Shabab.
On April 4, the Kenyan government published a list of “entities suspected to be associated with Al Shabaab”, including 13 of the largest Somali-operated money transfer companies working in Kenya. On April 8, the government ordered those companies’ activities to cease and froze all of their accounts.
A number of them have offices in the US, where they’re subjected to some of the world’s most comprehensive anti-terror financing regulations. The Kenyan list also included the Dubai-based Dahabshiil, which is Africa’s largest money-transfer company. The closures hit prominent financial institutions that have been allowed to operate in far stricter legal environments than Kenya’s.
Kenya has around 2.5 million citizens who are of Somali ethnicity, and hosts 464,000 Somali refugees. Dadaab, the largest refugee camp on earth, is home to around 335,000 Somalis who have fled the country’s recent famine and armed conflict.