On Extremism

Islamic State in Africa Tries to Lure Members From al-Shabaab

NAIROBI, Kenya—Islamic State’s push to co-opt one of Africa’s deadliest jihadist movements has come with an attempt to present a softer face to potential recruits. Over the past year, the jihadist group also known as ISIS and Daesh has launched a broad recruitment campaign across Somalia to pry foot soldiers and senior operatives from al-Shabaab, a two-decade-old insurgency allied with al Qaeda that has made it very clear they have no desire to switch franchises. Stung by battlefield losses to

Boko Haram’s Abduction of Girls Still Grips Nigeria

YOLA, Nigeria—In the year since Boko Haram militants kidnapped hundreds of schoolgirls from their dormitories in northeastern Nigeria, the missing girls have come to symbolize an insurgency that doesn’t need a large footprint to terrorize a population. Protests continue nearly weekly in the capital Abuja to urge the government to do more to free the more-than-200 girls. Each time a town has been retaken from the Islamist militants,...

Al-Shabaab’s Kenya Killings Fit Broader Strategy

NAIROBI, Kenya—When al-Shabaab militants raided a Kenyan university last week, some opened fire indiscriminately and others singled out Christians to execute. The carnage appeared calibrated to achieve two goals: a high death toll and headlines proclaiming a holy war. Over the past two years, the Somali militant group has increasingly portrayed itself as a band of international Muslim crusaders out to kill Christians, even though their far more frequent attacks in Somalia have killed mostly Mus

Somali Militants Targeted Non-Muslims

MPEKETONI, Kenya—The gunmen who raided a town along Kenya's popular Indian Ocean coast, killing at least 48 people, shouted "God is great!" and in some cases asked men to recite Quranic verses before shooting those who couldn't, residents said on Monday. The attack as described by residents was planned and methodical: Dozens of gunmen wearing military uniforms split into three groups—one headed toward the cinema where many were watching a World Cup match, another toward the hotels, and a third

Shaken Kenya Aims to Rebuild Mall and Its Confidence

NAIROBI, Kenya—Before terrorists struck in September, the Westgate shopping mall stood as an aspirational symbol for Kenya's future. Today, its charred remains stand for something else: a shaken nation. Since a small band of Somali gunmen stormed the upscale mall, killing more than 60 people, Kenyans have begun to consider questions such as how a government protects its people and whether they are risking their lives for the...

Before Kenya Attack, a Warning on Terrorism

NAIROBI, Kenya— Raheem Biviji was inside Diamond Trust bank, waiting for a clerk to deposit his check, when the gunfire started. He darted inside the bank's vault, and huddled there with 30 other people. Through the cracked door they saw the legs of Islamic militants scurrying past. It was 12:20 p.m. on Sept. 21, and shots and explosions would go on for hours at the popular shopping complex. "It just looked like there was a war inside the mall," Mr. Biviji said. That al-Shabaab fighters moved

Siege at Nairobi Mall Ends After Four Days

Security forces in Nairobi prevailed on Tuesday against Islamic insurgents in a four-day gunbattle that devastated a popular shopping mall, shook a nation and pointed to a new front line in Africa's fight against terrorism. In an address to the nation on Tuesday night, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said five militants had been killed in an operation that culminated with massive explosions that brought down three floors of the upscale Westgate mall. Efforts to retrieve bodies and identify the