The Conversation

Horror in Nairobi

Tom Clancy's novel "The Teeth of the Tiger" presented a simple, chillingly effective terrorist scenario: a gang of terrorists armed with machine guns simply walk into a shopping mall and start blazing away.  In the book, they hit several malls in America, all at once, killing hundreds of innocent people and plunging the country into a panic.

This scenario has worried me for a long time, because it seemed like it would be relatively easy to pull off, and it fits with the lower-intensity jihad model we've seen from the likes of the Boston Bombers.  You don't need a huge operational structure or elaborate training to do horrific damage in a shopping mall.

And now it's actually happened, at a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya.  The Islamist death squad killed at least 39 people, wounding 150 more.  They were sending Twitter updates of the murder spree from inside the mall.  They lined up hostages and murdered anyone who could not accurately state the name of Mohammed's mother.  The perps came from al-Shabaab, a Somali affiliate of al-Qaeda.  Nine hours after the attack began, they're still holed up in the mall with hostages.  

Americans have reportedly been injured, and the wife of a foreign USAID employee was killed.  The UK Daily Mail, which has some terrifying photos of the attack, lists two French women and two Canadians among the dead. 


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