Garissa University and Islamic Terror on a Global Scale
By Benjamin Thorpe
According to CNN News, on April 2, gunmen from the Islamic terror group al-Shabaab stormed Garissa University in Kenya, killing over 150 people, injuring over 70, and partaking in a 13 hour firefight with Kenyan special-forces. After targeting all non-Muslims as their victims, the gunmen barricaded themselves in the school’s dormitory before finally being apprehended by Kenyan military police. Of the 800 or so students attending the school, only 600 survived the attack, while Muslim students were allowed by the gunmen to leave free of harm. Al-Shabaab has been known in the past for such incidents as the Nairobi Westgate shopping center assault in 2013, in which almost 70 people died, and is often credited with suicide bombings and grenade attacks that occur frequently throughout Kenya.
The initial response quickly moved from shock and grief to blame, as the reaction of the military police was viewed as slow and clumsy. According to CNN, it was revealed that one of the official shuttles assigned to fly the special-forces to Garissa (in order to combat the terrorists) was allowed to continue its original flight plan to transport the police chief’s daughter and grandchildren; this contributed to the two hours that the commandos reportedly had to wait, and was seen as a sign of Kenya’s inability to deal with emergencies. Uhuru Kenyatta, the President of Kenya, was quoted after the Garissa incident to have admitted that Kenya is in need of more police officers.
The very nature of this attack was far more brutal in nature than most were initially led to believe. According to The Telegraph, hostages were rounded up and forced to call their loved ones, to deliver messages from al-Shabaab and their goal of ‘forcing Kenyan troops to leave Somalia’. An even more disturbing quote from the attackers was delivered to The Telegraph by a survivor of the hostage situation, who reported the terrorists, all equipped with suicide bomber vests, said, “Do not worry, we will kill you, but we will die too” and that they were reportedly “here to make your [the students] Easter holidays better”. There is, according to CNN, already a bounty out for a man wanted in connection with the attack, equaling to over $200,000USD.
This attack comes on the unfortunately fresh tracks of the Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris this past January, as well as the older but now more relevant hostage situation al-Shabaab created at the Nairobi Westgate shopping mall two years ago. And, as of April 23, according to the Daily Nation, al-Shabaab also executed a local tribal chief in Mandera County, Kenya, apparently doing so even as the tribal elders attempted to negotiate his ransom and release.
It is only at moments like these, when the cruel reality of radical Islamism makes itself fully known and realized, that it is possible to fully understand its global impact. Al-Shabaab managed to take almost 150 lives this past month in the name of terrorism; and there was no meeting of international leaders to march and properly mourn the tragedy and loss. According to The New York Times, America’s only ‘official’ reaction was a statement from the White House ‘condemning the attack and vowing to continue assisting Kenya in fighting the Shabab’.
The reality of terror exists everywhere, and it will continue to exist indefinitely. But when trends like radical Islam appear, people start to become numb to it. The increasing frequency in acts of religious terror can dull people’s senses to violence and their souls to loss. It seems prudent that those gifted lives foreign to terror remain as current and sincere with their emotion as possible. Furthermore, it follows that they should allow their hearts to ache with the families of those affected by Islamic terror around the world, no matter the context and no matter how tired they may be of truly mourning; and that they would do this consistently, as humans connected by tragedy.