Kenyans fear Somali militant infiltration

July 22, 2009 at 7:56 AM
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NAIROBI, Kenya, July 22 (UPI) -- Security along Kenya's border with Somalia is almost non-existent, raising fears the jihadist group al-Shabaab could infiltrate the U.S. ally, analysts say.

The group, which is allied to al-Qaida, stormed the offices of an unidentified Western relief organization last weekend, kidnapping three aid workers stationed along the Kenya-Somalia border. The incident has sharpened fears Kenya, regarded as a bulwark against Islamic militancy and political chaos in the Horn of Africa, may be targeted for terrorism by al-Shabaab, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Counterterrorism officials in Kenya last month issued warnings to Westerners to stay away from Nairobi's shopping malls for fear of possible suicide attacks by al-Shabaab. The group this month threatened to destroy Nairobi's "tall, glass buildings."

The militants have infiltrated refugee camps inside Kenya, elders say, promising paradise and $300 each to potential recruits. The Times said al-Shabaab has perpetrated cross-border attacks before, kidnapping an outspoken cleric in May from a Kenyan refugee camp. Last week, a squad of uniformed fighters broke into a Kenyan school, rounded up the children and told them to quit their classes and join the jihad.

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