Kenya has once again become a frontline in the Lord Voldemort War: the war that must not be named, the conflict once known as the Global War on Terror. So far, as many as 59 people are reported dead as the result of an ongoing siege at Nairobi’s Westlake shopping center. The BBC is reporting that a representative al-Shabab, the Somali Islamist group that has known links to al Qaeda, has taken responsibility for the attack. Among the casualties were members of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s family.The official al-Shabab line is that this attack is in response to Kenya sending troops to Somalia, but religion appears to have played a role in the massacre:
“They came and said: ‘If you are Muslim, stand up. We’ve come to rescue you,” said Elijah Lamau.He said the Muslims left with their hands up, and then the gunmen shot two people.The correspondent in Nairobi for the Economist, Daniel Howden told the BBC he spoke to one man with a Christian first name but a Muslim-sounding surname who managed to escape the attackers by putting his thumb over his first name on his ID.However, the man told Mr Howden that an Indian man standing next to him who was asked for the name of the Prophet Muhammad’s mother was shot dead when he was unable to answer.
In addition, the mall was part Israeli-owned.This latest battle in the unnamed war comes at an important juncture for Kenya, as it is weeks from offering Sub-Saharan Africa’s largest ever debut sovereign bond issue, valued at $1.5 billion. With a thriving middle class profiting handsomely from tourism, a nicely developing energy sector and a recently-discovered aquifer that solves the country’s water problems well into the future, Kenya is a success story.An outrage like this probably won’t make a difference in Kenya’s big picture outlook (unless it were to become a regular feature of life in prosperous Nairobi and start to eat into tourism revenue), but it’s an important reminder to some in the West that civilization is delicate and vulnerable. Wishing with all your might that forces hell-bent on destroying it will just go away is not a sound strategy.[A woman who had been held hostage is carried in shock by rescue personnel on September 21, 2013, after she was freed following a security operation at an upmarket shopping mall in Nairobi. Photo courtesy Getty Images.]