Al Qaeda may be suffering a major loss in Iraq, but the organization is looking to rebase in new grounds, some which sound may familiar. In Somalia, al Qaeda’s allies are threatening to cross the border and attack neighboring Kenya if that nation agreed to train Somalia’s fledgling security forces.
Last week, the Islamist group said that it would carry out attacks inside Kenya if the government proceeded with plans to train Somali government forces. The group told local media in Somalia that it was urging the Kenyan government to shelve the plans to avoid the attacks.
These developments may be particularly disturbing because of al Qaeda’s history in the Horn of Africa, particularly the 1993 attacks on UN forces and the 1998 Nairobi embassy bombing. Al Qaeda as a whole is feeling the pressure, but its surrogates in the Islamic Courts movement may be gaining strength, especially if they are able to stoke ethnic Somali nationalism against their traditional enemy, invoking the Ogaden War, for example.
In addition, al Qaeda is looking to rebase itself outside of the major battlegrounds of the War on Terror. In Mauritania, al Qaeda is attempting to create a nucleus for the next generation of the organization:
The head of the German intelligence apparatus BND, Ernst Uhrlau, has told the Hamburger Abendblatt newspaper that Al-Qaeda’s training bases have been transferred from Pakistan/Afghanistan to Mauritania.
This in particular could be dangerous if al Qaeda uses this base to attack moderate regimes such as Morocco and Algeria. Algeria alone has seen a large increase in bombings in the last several years and could see a recreation of its insurgency.