The Terrorist Threat in Africa

Somali police officers patrol near Mogadishu's main airport, Somalia, 2007. (Ismael Taxta/Courtesy Reuters)


On August 7, 1998, two massive bombs exploded outside of the U.S. embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya, killing 224 people -- including 12 Americans -- and injuring 5,000. Responsibility was quickly traced to al Qaeda. Four years later, al Qaeda operatives struck again, killing 15 people in an Israeli-owned hotel near Mombasa, Kenya, and simultaneously firing missiles at an Israeli passenger jet taking off from Mombasa's airport. An alarmed United States responded to these attacks with conviction. In addition to proposing significant increases in development assistance and a major initiative on HIV/AIDS, the Bush administration has designated the greater Horn of Africa a front-line region in its global war against terrorism and has worked to dismantle al Qaeda infrastructure there.

At the same time, however, the United States has failed to recognize the existence of other, less visible, terrorist threats elsewhere on the African continent. Countering the

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